Management. Sometimes intimidating, and other times inspiring. We hold managers to a high standard. They lead our organizations, provide strategic insight and help the junior staff grow in their careers.
But no manager is the same, which has pros and cons. Knowing how to connect with your manager really depends on their management style. Do you have multiple managers that you can go to? Do you connect with one better than the other? The answer is probably yes, but it’s important to be able to communicate effectively with every manager in your organization, even if you don’t report directly to them.
In my experience (including my restaurant days), I’ve come across the same issues. You may have the “fun” manager who is less strict but still has high standards – watch out for these because it’s easy to slip into the “fun” aspect and forget about the whole work thing. You may have the “by the book” manager that allows no room for bending the rules. Or you may have someone who is in between and more open to change.
Not only do you have to consider how they work with you, but how they work with other leaders in the organization. All of those in leadership positions (with all their different work styles) have to come together and make decisions. If they don’t agree, confusion is likely to follow, which makes your job as part of the junior staff difficult.
But have no fear! You can work with some of these diverse management styles while simultaneously having your voice heard. Consider the following:
Understand how and when they like to communicate
Whether you are communicating with your direct manager or a different employee, it’s important to understand how they communicate. They are most likely extremely busy putting out fires, communicating with other employees, in meetings or are assisting team members.
To get the most out of your conversations with them, know when the best time to approach them so that you have their undivided attention. Once you find a time that’s best to communicate with them, relay the questions or information in a way they will best receive it. Match their tone depending on the way they communicate with you.
Example of what not to do: Run into their office frantically with ten questions on how to best approach something.
Example of what to do: Think through your questions or discussion points (maybe write them down beforehand) and put some time on their calendar to go through everything on your mind. If you have a problem you need help solving, it’s best to come up with a solution on your own and run it by them. Not only is it easier for them to say “yes” or “no” to your idea rather than come up with a solution, but it’s being respectful of their time.
Understand the way they stay organized
Everyone has different methods of organization. You have the “Type A/OCD/hyper-organized” people (I may fall into this category a little), the “organized, but still manages to misplace documents” and finally, the “chronically unorganized who just fly by the seat of their pants” (stressful). Remember, just because they have “manager” in their title doesn’t mean they have to manage their Google Drive.
Knowing how your manager stays organized will help you better connect and improve your relationship with them. Whether it’s the way they like to be sent documents to review or just discussing projects you work on together, if they are not organized this can make communication difficult.
Example of what not to do: Assume they have all of their files neatly organized and that they are following every email you send.
Example of what to do: Assume they haven’t even opened one email today and have saved every document from 2008-today straight to their desktop. This can be frustrating when you need help and they can’t remember what you are doing on a project. Deep breaths. Just find a way to keep them updated and make sure you are staying organized so that nothing slips through the cracks. Plus, being the organized one makes you look good!
Understand their personality traits
It’s obviously easier to get along with managers who have similar interests as you. You won’t always have a manager that you can “shoot the sh*t” with, unfortunately. Try to find common ground when working with a manager and understand what makes them happy. If you do this, you will be able to see them as the human they are and have more empathy toward their management style.
Example of what not to do: Assume they are rude or don’t care about feelings because they aren’t as outgoing as you are.
Example of what to do: Try to find similarities between both of you. Work-related or not. Are you both 1/64 Irish? Both have been to Wyoming? Whatever it is, find that thing and run with it.
Understand their role within the workplace
Yes, they are a manager, but are they in a role that is highly involved in internal processes or new business development? Understanding what their responsibilities are will help you better connect.
Example of what not to do: Assume they just sit in their office and watch YouTube videos all day. (Disclaimer: There are managers out there guilty of this, but let’s pretend everyone is actually doing work).
Example of what to do: Understand what they have on their plate, current and future projects.. This could impact the level of attention you receive from them and should be noted during discussions.
I like to remind myself that, just like everyone else, managers are constantly learning every day. Make sure to keep this in mind when you start to complain about work.
However, if you have an issue in the workplace and need to convey it to management, don’t be afraid. Understand their communication and organization style, personality and role before you initiate that conversation. This way, you are portraying yourself in a professional manner. To make an organization successful inside and out, we have to connect with each other, across all titles!
Do you have any tips for connecting with different managers? We would love to hear from you, comment below: