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7 Tips for a Great Relationship With Your Manager

woman manager talking to employees

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Now that you may be working remotely or in a hybrid role, positive work relationships are more important than ever. Your relationship with your manager is one of your most important work relationships: they have the information you need to be successful and can provide critical support at higher levels in the organization.  At the same time, your manager can’t accomplish their goals without your help – they need your help to be successful. Here are some tips for establishing a great relationship with a new manager, or improving the relationship you have with a current boss.

  1. Set Expectations. During your first few weeks at a job, it’s a good idea to ask your manager two questions:
    • What are your manager’s goals? Your objective is to gain an understanding of your managers’ top priorities for the coming year and what you can do to help them succeed. If you empower them, they will empower you.
    • What do I need to do to be successful? You may have many responsibilities in your job, but you will typically be judged according to how well you do just two or three things. Find out specifically what your success looks like from your boss’ perspective. Write it down, review it and bring it to your first review.
  2. Learn Your Manager’s Communication Style. Different managers have different communication styles, and some are better at communicating than others. Some managers like a daily informal chat while others prefer a detailed written report at the end of the week. Some do fine with spontaneous texts and emails, while others prefer a scheduled meeting. Find out what works best for your boss and then make sure they get the right information, in the right way, at the right time. Never assume that what works for you works for your boss, or you might become their most frustrating team member.
  3. Be Proactive. Do your best to communicate with your manager about your progress, as well as any problems, before they need that information. The goal is to prepare them for questions they could receive from their boss or a customer about the status of a project or task. Being proactive also pertains to your career goals, so don’t wait for your annual review to find out how your boss thinks you’re doing. After you finish a presentation or complete a project, ask for constructive feedback. Along these lines, a boss who seems to be micromanaging you could be a sign that you aren’t being proactive enough about providing the information they need.
  4. Don’t Surprise Your Boss. If your project is running behind, if you’re having a conflict with a coworker, if you need to take time off, if anything has happened that will impact productivity or cause a delay…always let your manager know ASAP. In addition, tell them when you’ve made an error or a mistake has been made. Cover-ups erode trust, but being a source of timely information will increase your manager’s trust in your abilities.
  5. Ask for Feedback. If you work in a fast-paced environment, we suggest asking for a 6-month informal review with your manager. The goal is to make sure that your technical skills, accomplishments and progress are in line with your manager’s expectations. Perhaps skillset requirements or corporate goals have changed. If your organization does not schedule a formal annual review, ask for one! Bring your notes from your initial goal-setting discussion to your first review, and take notes during subsequent reviews to discuss in the future. This last tip is especially important if you work at an organization that does not require formal reviews, since the responsibility for documenting your accomplishments and building a case for a future promotion or raise has fallen on you. Either way, your manager will appreciate your efforts to align your role with departmental and organizational goals, as well as your ability to self-manage.
  6. Keep it Professional. No relationship is perfect, and it’s inevitable that you will disagree with your manager or coworker at some point. Expressing disagreement is fine, but an emotional outbreak at work is not. If you are frustrated or dissatisfied, remember to keep it professional. Your manager has to consider the needs of the organization, customers and investors, as well as each person on your team. Trust that things will work out in your favor as long as you are doing a great job and keep it professional.
  7. Manage Up If Required. If you have a very difficult relationship with your manager, you may have to manage up. This can be a challenge, but it’s important not to be proactive so the situation doesn’t roadblock your career. Strive to communicate clearly and in a timely manner, work with your manager to set realistic goals and ask for regular meetings to discuss your progress and how you can improve. In most cases, your manager (and their manager) will recognize your professionalism and value to the team.

One final point is worth mentioning. The importance of building positive work relationships goes beyond the job you have today. The trust and rapport you establish with your manager can result in advancement, glowing references and great professional relationships for years to come.

Do you have a question or concern? The BravoTECH Care Team’s door is always open. Email