Getting Along with the Boss

One of the most important actions you, as a middle manager, needs to do is develop a good working relationship with your immediate supervisor.  Our positions exist to support and assist those above us in the hierarchy.

In order to do that, we need to communicate with our supervisor.  Here is a short list of some key information we need:

  • What are her primary goals? (Focus on the 1-2 that you can have the biggest impact on)
  • What are her priorities right now? (Not just what is urgent, but what is important)
  • How does she prefer to work? (Early or late arrival at work?, stay late, work weekends? in office, out on floor, at home, coffee shop?)
  • How does she prefer to communicate? (Weekly or monthly reports?  Formal written, email, verbal, phone call, hallway report?)

Information such as this helps you to set priorities and provide your supervisor with what she needs to be successful.  With patience, it can even reduce or eliminate micromanagement by our supervisor.

One of the ways to communicate with your supervisor is to schedule a regular meeting.  In a that meeting, discuss three areas:

(a)  Report what has happened in the recent past.  Mostly this will be successes and progress you’ve achieved.  Sometimes it will be a heads up of negative issues that might be developing.

(b) Provide a brief description about areas or issues you intend to focus on in the near future.

(c)   Inquire about changes in your supervisors priorities.

The meeting should be short, maybe 15-30 minutes. Regularly scheduling this meeting will help you keep your supervisor informed and you on track supporting both your and your supervisors priorities.

Studies show that about 75% of all people who leave jobs, do so because of a poor relationship with their supervisor.  While a lot of the responsibility for relationships may be on the supervisor, each of us can improve the situation as we improve communication with our supervisors and managers.

What actions would you suggest to improve upward communication?

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