Over the course of my twenty-year career in biotech, I’ve come to realize that one of the most powerful tools in our professional arsenal is something we might not think of as a “skill” at all. In fact, it’s something we do almost every day: managing our relationship with our manager.
Let me explain why this is so vital. Regardless of your role or seniority, you’ll always report to someone – be it a direct manager, an executive, or even the Board of Directors if you’re the CEO. Nurturing a positive relationship with these figures is critical because studies consistently show that positive interactions between managers and employees correlate with employee satisfaction, retention, and even performance.
If you’re wondering how you can improve your relationship with your manager, you’re not alone. I was once in your shoes, and I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way that I’d love to share with you.
Get to Know Your Manager
During my first job in the biotech industry, I experienced a significant shift in managerial styles. My initial manager was hands-on and loved diving into the details of my projects. However, my second manager, while equally competent, preferred a high-level overview and only wanted updates on whether the project was on track. I soon realized that although my work hadn’t changed, I needed to adjust how I communicated with my manager to align with their preferences.
Communicate with Purpose
One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned over the years is that effective communication isn’t about talking more; it’s about talking smarter. Before you meet with your manager, spend a few minutes thinking about your objectives for the conversation. Are you seeking advice? Do you need their approval on a decision? Or are you updating them on your progress? Knowing your goals ahead of time will help you steer the conversation more effectively.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Here’s a little secret: even the best managers can’t read minds. If you have questions, concerns, or needs, don’t hesitate to bring them up. Your manager will likely appreciate your proactive approach, and you’ll give them valuable insights into your interests and career aspirations. It’s a win-win!
I recently had the opportunity to share these strategies during a “How to Manage your Manager” training session with a research group. The participants, many of whom were early in their careers and had never worked with a manager before, found the discussion particularly enlightening. Together, we explored the nuances of manager-managee relationships and shared personal experiences, challenges, and solutions.
Now, I invite you to take this journey with me. As you head into the coming week, consider how you can be more intentional in your interactions with your manager. Remember, a positive manager-managee relationship doesn’t just benefit you; it can create a more harmonious, productive, and enjoyable work environment for everyone.