8 Ways to Manage Your Manager (And Why It's Important)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Managing your relationships at work can be mutually rewarding for you and your colleagues, as it can make both of your jobs easier and help you advance in your career. This principle applies even to managing those in roles above you, as you can gain more trust and responsibility. Understanding how to manage your supervisor can help you create a stronger, more supportive relationship with supervisors and create a work environment based on positivity, growth, and respect.

In this article, we explain why it's important to manage your manager and offer eight ways to do it more effectively.

Why is it important to manage your manager?

It's important to manage your manager for many reasons. Expectations and boundaries can help create a stronger, more trustworthy relationship between you, and more frequent communication can reduce errors and misunderstandings. Here are some other reasons managing your supervisors is important:

  • Gaining your manager's trust: By establishing boundaries, expectations, and communicating needs, you can help improve the trust between you and your manager. This can have many positive effects on you and your team, and may help you advance your career by building rapport with people who can help you find opportunities to advance.

  • Gaining your manager's support: With a more solid relationship between you and your manager, you can gain more support from direct supervisors. If your manager trusts you, they may offer more help to ensure you can excel in your job, or offer more difficult, meaningful projects to work on.

  • Being respected: Respect can be important to relationships because it's typically built on trust and honesty. When you create a relationship between you and your manager and set firm boundaries, they may respect you more and speak highly of you or recommend you.

  • Advancing your career: Career advancement can sometimes depend on recommendations or suggestions from managers or other leaders in the company. By building a relationship with a manager, you might show them you're the right choice for higher positions, potentially in management.

  • Being more efficient and productive at work: When you don't worry about micro-managing from supervisors or conflicts between you and your managers, you're likely going to perform more effectively and be more productive in your job.

  • Reducing misunderstandings: Frequent, high-quality communication is a core component of managing your manager, and can help reduce misunderstandings. This ultimately helps reduce potential conflicts and errors that can affect both you and your manager.

Managing your manager is particularly useful if you are working with a new supervisor. If you are working with a longtime manager, it can help improve your existing relationship with them and potentially influence the rest of the team to also improve their relationships.

Related: 10 Manager Responsibilities in a Functional Organization

How to manage your manager

When you manage your manager, you are imitating the actions and features of a good supervisor. This strategy involves communication, understanding, honesty, and problem-solving. Here are eight steps you can take to manage your manager:

1. Be honest

When your manager asks you questions about your work or requests feedback on a task or project, give honest answers. Be accountable for your actions and decisions, even when the outcome differs from your desired result. Explain to your manager what you can do to get better results in the future. Honesty and accountability can gain your manager's trust, strengthen your relationship, and show that you respect that person enough to give them the truth. Truth can also help you feel better about your own actions and provide you with an opportunity to fix mistakes.

Related: Top Management Skills Every Manager Needs

2. Communicate with your manager

Have open, clear, and frequent communication with your manager. Observe and determine their preferred communication style, such as in person, through a professional messaging program, by e-mail, or by phone, and use it to give feedback, ask questions, and provide updates. It's also important to know whether your manager likes to discuss strategies with others or think about them alone. Respect their preferences and try to align with their style when you communicate with them. If something happens, communicate the details of the incident immediately to keep them informed.

Related: A Complete Guide on How to Write an Email to Your Manager

3. Understand their goals

Ask your manager about their professional goals and support them in achieving those goals. These might include immediate objectives, such as finishing a project on time or meeting a sales quota, or long-term aspirations, such as becoming head of the department. Find ways to show interest in and support your manager's career, and they might be more likely to support your professional advancement. When your manager reaches a goal, you can celebrate with them to show appreciation for their efforts and your professional support in their advancement.

Related: What Are the Responsibilities of a Manager?

4. Stay calm

Remain calm during high-stress situations and fast-paced or changing work environments. A calm, collected team member can have an equally calming effect on both colleagues and managers, so modelling this behaviour may benefit everyone on the team. Staying calm under pressure can also show that you're a reliable colleague and allows you to continue being productive regardless of the situation. To stay calm in stressful scenarios, try exercises such as deep breathing, talking or thinking through the situation, and using humour or positive thoughts to improve the mood in the workplace.

You can also offer help to managers who seem stressed or anxious. You might teach them your own calming techniques, discuss the issue with them, or help them find more help when they need it. This shows both professional and personal support, and can be crucial for building a strong relationship with your manager.

5. Solve problems

Being a problem-solver can show a manager that you're ready to take accountability for your actions and those of your team, and offer potential solutions for any challenges that arise. This can show both your determination and ambition, while showing a manager that you also display strong leadership qualities. If a challenge arises for the team, consider making a list of possible solutions before you tell your manager about it, unless it's an emergency.

Even in an emergency, it's important to think of potential solutions so that once you address the emergency and mitigate its effects, you can work on clearing up any after effects and preventing future emergencies.

Related: A Guide to 11 Manager Strengths (Plus Importance and FAQs)

6. Be positive

A positive, uplifting attitude at work may help your manager and team members feel more relaxed, even when the stress of the job is abundant. Try showing positivity by supporting your team members' efforts and offering praise when you think your manager has done something good for the team. A simple act like a smile can have a profound effect on a person's attitude or response to stressors, so try smiling, being engaging, and working closely with your manager when you can to learn about their best qualities.

7. Share your knowledge

Share any knowledge you acquire during your tenure or unique knowledge you bring to the position. You might have unique experiences or training that can be valuable to your manager, so consider sharing when you can. For example, if your manager is struggling with a particular issue you've handled before, you can offer advice or techniques to help them overcome that challenge. Be considerate by asking first if they want help or suggestions, both to show respect and to not underestimate their abilities to handle the situation.

8. Be a strong performer

Excelling in your job can be an effective way of managing your manager, because it helps build crucial trust between the two of you. When you perform well, your manager can trust more in your competency, which allows them to micro-manage less often and grants you more independence. That trust between you and your manager can reduce the stress on them and allow them to focus their efforts elsewhere, where they might be more necessary or impactful. Do your job well, focus on the details and own your mistakes and offer solutions.

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