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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Jun 9, 2023

Hello and welcome to episode 188 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we explore ways to build the working relationship you have with your manager.

The working relationship you have with your manager is particularly important for your performance and career. Yet we can all struggle to make this relationship work. It’s easy to put this down to personality and style differences, or perhaps a lack of interest or skill on the part of the manager. However there are some important things to keep in mind. Managers are typically busy. What you might see as a lack of interest or attention may simply be due to them having so much on. Managers have a different perspective and priorities. The scope and time horizon associated with their role could be dramatically different to your role. There are likely to be things they are focused on that you may know nothing about. Your manager might work quite differently to you. Their work style and preferences could well be different to yours.

So, keeping all of these things in mind, here are seven tips for working more effectively with your manager:

  1. Establish clear goal posts. Having agreed expectations is fundamental to performance and your relationship. Without clear goals, you can’t have an effective working relationship with your manager.
  2. Build trust. Trust is a combination of having another person’s best interests at heart, and being reliable in following through on your commitments. To build trust you need to understand what is important to your manager. You also need to be rock solid in delivering what has been agreed.
  3. Ask “How can we best work together?” This is a great question to explore what your manager has found most helpful when leading others. It also opens up a two-way conversation where they’re likely to ask what you’ve found most helpful from other leaders, so be prepared to share some thoughts.
  4. Secure some one-on-one time. Given the time constraints on managers this can be challenging, but even 20 minutes a week can make a huge difference. Frame this in terms of how it will be helpful for your manager. For example, it provides an opportunity to bundle-up non urgent questions rather than disturbing them during the week. It will also help ensure clarity and alignment, and that your manager is across progress against objectives.
  5. Try to lighten their load. It’s easy to come to your manager with a problem and just make their life harder. Instead, come with options and potential solutions. Even better, come with your preferred approach and rationale.
  6. Seek specific feedback. Let your manager know what you’re working on and that you’d appreciate and value their feedback. Again, frame this up from the manager’s perspective and how this regular feedback will help you to be even more effective.
  7. Express gratitude. The research is clear - the more senior someone is, the less feedback they receive. Let your manager know what you’re appreciating about the way they have led you. This will encourage them to keep going.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. Give them a try and let me know how you go.

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