Career Advice

How To Handle Any Kind of Manager

You may not be able change your manager. You can, however, change how you interact with your manager. Here’s a thought: next time you think you’re at the mercy of your boss’ seemingly erratic behavior, shift your perspective. You have the power to decide how you’re going to react and interact.

Here are 3 common management styles. Use these to understand your boss and, most importantly, in order to understand how you can adapt and deliver.

Demanding

Working for a demanding manager is a rite of passage in the working world. (Maybe that’s why happy hour was invented?) Here are three steps to handling a manager who seems to ask for more than you want to give.

  1. Three words: cool, calm, and collected. When someone is insisting a project to be done on a timeline that seems impossible, try your very best not to get overwhelmed and flustered. Maintaining composure will not only help you work more effectively, but it will show your manager you’re capable of working well under pressure.
  2. Take things one-step-at-a-time. Break down one big task or assignment into manageable “bites.” This will help you approach you prioritize and evaluate what needs to be completed first and fastest.
  3. Create boundaries. Even if you’re in a Devil Wears Prada scenario, you still have the right to create some space for yourself. Be proactive about avoiding burn-out.

[Related: How to Talk to Your Manager About Your Work-Life Balance]

Analytics-driven

Results, success, and a job well-done are all wrapped up in the numbers. But constantly being reminded of numbers goals can get stressful. Therefore, here’s how to manage your analytics-driven manager.

  1. Specifically, ask your boss to define the key performance indicators, or success metrics, that you would be measured by. Know these, and always be prepared to provide the most updated information on them.
  2. Be prepared to recount numbers in every meeting. Have your spreadsheets open and ready. Never be caught off guard when your manager turns to you and asks you for a very specific piece of information.
  3. If you are less driven by numbers, it’s a-okay to remind your manager of the other ways you and your team have achieved success. You can absolutely bring a more well-rounded perspective if you feel it’s lacking.

[Related: TaskRabbit CPO John Vars: “To Be Successful in Product, You Must”]

Coaching

Some bosses also value their role as a coach and mentor. If you have a manager/mentor, consider yourself lucky. Here are three ways to maximize this opportunity.

  1. Ask for feedback. Create a schedule for receiving consistent feedback, whether this is a quarterly meeting dedicated to reviewing performance or five minutes at the end of every weekly check-in.
  2. Ask questions. Use your manager as a resource to gain as much knowledge as possible. Instead of inquiring about the day-to-day responsibilities of your job, get specific with your manager. Ask about how to navigate the nuances of a career, how to tackle the ups and downs, how to climb the ladder in your particular company, and how to meet unexpected challenges.
  3. Use this as an opportunity to build your network. A boss invested in your success is probably someone you’ll return to later down the line to serve for a reference, or even just as a resource. Work to create a solid foundation of respect and appreciation, as this will serve both of you in the long run.

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