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10 Keys to Career Success Through Manager Relationships

by Bob Ketteringham

posted in Business

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I believe customer service is the key to business success. You have many customers including clients, subordinates, peers, and managers. Often we do not thing of all of these as customers. Yet, they are!
Your most significant customer for your career is your manager. There are good and bad managers, just as there are good and bad clients. You must play the hand you have been dealt; play it well. If you want to succeed, you must develop a positive relationship as she/he has the most impact on your present success and career goals. To develop your relationship and reap its benefits:
• Invest energy in building rapport with your manager. The key to rapport is "people like people who are like themselves." Put yourself in your manager's shoes. Find or create commonalities. Adapt to your manager's personal and communication styles.
• Know your manager's communication style and use it. Does she prefer memos, voice mail, text messages, or personal communication? Is she predominantly visual, auditory, or kinesthetic? Does she like to see lots of data or be briefed?
• Know her/his needs and expectations. Make them your own. Over deliver on expectations. Be proactive rather than reactive. Be the person who gets reports and assignments in early, before being asked. Know her/his priorities and order your work accordingly. Her job will be made easier and she will develop trust in you.
• Get to know who she/he appreciates most. Study them to understand why. Befriend them. Emulate those characteristics that bond these relationships.
• Give your manager what she/he needs. Some people always provide what they think the manager wants, "yes women or men." This does not provide answers or solutions. If asked for an opinion, be honest, respectful and diplomatic. Do not be a "kiss ass" or "brownnoser." This may work with some managers, but not most. Also, it compromises your integrity.
• No surprises! Bear in mind that we generally like bearers of good news and dislike bearers of bad news. Generally, we want to be quick to provide good news and shield from bad. However, when your manager finds out about an issue that they needed to be informed of, it can destroy trust and your relationship. Be diplomatic, but keep your boss informed of big, problematic issues. Yet, don't bother her/him with all the little stuff that you should be able to handle. Your manager has a big load and depends on you to ease rather than add to it.
• Meet with your manager routinely, briefing her on your work, successes and insuring you are providing for her needs.
• Make her look good to her managers and your teammates. Promote her and protect her from embarrassment. Know what you can say publicly and what needs to be said privately; act accordingly.
• Despite your relationship, always respect your manager as your manager.
• Maintain a positive attitude.
If you follow these guidelines, your manager should appreciate and value you. He/she will want to protect you and help you. Helping those who help us is the universal law of reciprocation.
About the Author: Bob Ketteringham is a career coach at RHK Coaching. It's mission is to transform the career trajectory of professionals who want more out of their career and life by providing qualified career expertise and guidance.
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