In this competitive world, there are high chances of employees and managers moving between different roles. As a result, many of us experience working with various managers exhibiting different leadership styles. While some of us learn to forge relationships with our respective managers through few interactions, many of us take time to build a rapport with the new boss. During this transition phase, most of us find ourselves pondering upon questions like: Has the information about our performance been handed – over smoothly from the previous manager to the new one? How informed is the new manager about our past performance and our ability to perform in future? Would he/she really show interest in our career and growth?
While an employee may be unsure about a manager’s behavior, can he /she not develop a positive mindset to approach such changes?
To gather replies around this question, I had discussions with few employees who had gotten opportunities to work with various People Managers during the course of their career. Basis the responses received, I could articulate a few enablers that one may want to pay attention to, while dealing with New Manager Relationships:
1. Understand Manager Expectations: It is important that an employee understands manager expectations and also correctly articulates his or her capability to participate in decision-making, share risks, and re-examine options. Initiating discussions with the respective manager, especially the most recent one, to convey these messages time and again is a must.
2. Show the Big Picture: Starting conversations with context first, then discussing action points gives a clear pathway towards outcomes. Where you stand today, and what you want the manager’s opinion on, needs to be articulated to avoid going back and forth in a discussion.
3. Simplify Data Presentation: Being a mail person forwarding thick documents full of statistics to the manager mostly consumes needless time. Collecting data and simplifying them into useful information with clear action points would help your manager spend lesser time on it.
4. Manage Manager’s Time: Book your manager’s time for frequent but short meetings than long and never ending ones. Prepare, summarize, and synthesize information and options before you go to ask for help. An employee may signify only 1% of the problems that a people manager may have to solve. Hence, avoid making it 100%.
5. Unfold Solutions: Unfolding solutions versus describing problems often leaves a Wow Effect in a manager’s mind about you. So, avoid putting the entire burden of solving problems on your manager’s shoulders and focus on unfolding and partnering solutions.
6. Network with Manager’s Group: Understanding diverse managing styles and preferences could be a challenge for some of us but can be learnt by just being curious. Networking with people mostly surrounding your manager, is a step in this direction. This may give you a fair understanding of the people choices this person makes and how these influence his/her decisions.
While keeping these enablers in mind may reap results, one may also be cautious of the following barriers like:
1. Avoiding Manager Interactions: Most of us encounter fear of being evaluated in a new relationship with a manager. There could be likelihood of avoiding interactions in such cases. However, if these connections are initiated by the employee, many unheard qualities between the manager and employee could be discovered.
2. Blowing Your Trumpet from Day One: Real performers, perform and make it visible when required through data and facts. Blowing your trumpet too frequently may put you in a not so good impression. If you are good, it wouldn’t be hidden.
3. Pushing for A ‘Yes’: No! it is too risky., No! we do not have enough evidence., No! it is the wrong timing.’ Have you heard your manager saying ‘No’ when he/she is pressed for a decision? Pushing them to say a ‘Yes’ at that immediate moment may not work most of the times. So, hold on and just focus on how you could support them to convert these ‘No’s’ to ’Yes’s’.
4. Talking about Past Performance: A repeat oration of how you contributed in the past may only hold good for some time in a new relationship with a manager as ‘past is past’. Hence, talk about what you want to do in the future rather than what you did in the past as most managers like to see the future more than digging into the ancient.
Acting on these enablers and being conscious about the barriers may or may not guarantee immediate success; however, employees who help their managers function with minimal hassles are recalled in the long run. A progressive and positive mindset followed while functioning with different managers rises the likelihood of an employee’s win.