How to Handle Your Manager


People don't quit their jobs; they quit their managers. If you've ever had a bad manager, you'll have your own (vehement) views on the subject, but the most common complaints include: poor communication, unrealistic demands, bad listening skills and lack of support. In the worst cases, a manager possesses a combination of all of these factors. The good news, however, is that it's normally within your power to improve the situation.
 
These tips can help you get along better with your manager.
 

Establish Clear Communication

 
Most problems in the workplace stem from bad communication. Therefore, if you can improve the communication flow between you and your boss, you're on your way to a much happier time at work.
 
Many managers are under the impression that their expectations and goals ‘trickle down’ to their staff. This is seldom the case, and many employees are left without a clear idea of what they are working toward. If this is the case, try asking your manager for the information you should be receiving, but be diplomatic. It's often best to schedule a proper appointment. At the appointment, state why you're there and what you want to achieve. If your productivity improves as a result of this communication, your boss may have learned a useful lesson.
 

Set Goals Together

 
Whatever problem you're experiencing with your manager, scheduling an appointment is probably your first move. This is particularly true if your boss is making unrealistic demands of you. If this is the case, it's probably because s/he is unaware of what you're doing. Explain the projects you have with a time estimate for each, and ask your manager to help you prioritize what you have to do. Your manager may not be aware of what your role requires, and when you politely let them know, you can set goals together for future projects.
 

Make Sure You Are Heard

 
Bad listening skills are often cited as an annoying trait of managers. It's not that they don't communicate; rather, it’s that the communication is one way. In this case, it is particularly important that you plan what you are going to talk about before going ahead with a meeting. In addition, don't leave the meeting until you have established what you want to say. It may help to have notes visible to which you can refer, thereby affirming that you have considered the meeting and areas of discussion. You can even give your boss a copy in advance of the meeting so there are no surprises. It will be good sign if s/he has taken the trouble to read it!
 

If All Else Fails, Adjust

 
Sometimes, even despite your best efforts, your manager refuses to change. If you find yourself in this situation and would prefer to stay in your current job, you will have no choice but to adjust to your manager’s style.
 
Most managers are motivated by one of three things: achievement, affiliation, or power. Observe and mirror your manager's primary motivator and you will get on his/her wavelength. If your boss is motivated by achievement, people issues will be a low priority, but targets will be paramount. If the major driving force is affiliation, you need to think in people terms. In the case of power, be sure to tread lightly.
 
A little adjustment is natural in a work setting, but getting on your manager's wavelength is a big adaptation to make. Are you willing to learn different techniques and prioritize things that don't come naturally to you? Only you can make that evaluation. It can sometimes be easier to get another job than another working style. 
 
If you have come to the point where working with your manager is no longer possible, browse our current jobs or talk to a Michael Page recruitment consultant to find a job and manager that fit you.