7 tips to improve line manager relationship
Seven Things You Can Do To Improve Your Relationship with Your Line Manager
Are you blessed with having a great relationship with your line manager – you know, the ones that ask: “How are you?” (and mean it). Others that take an interest in what we are up to outside of work. Those that check in to ensure we are on track with our projects, to give us feedback on what we are doing well and keep us in mind for future promotions.
I was reminded of this last week when I had the pleasure of meeting the CEO of a large financial services business. The CEO is the line manager of a new coaching client I’ve started working with. My client was raving about this guy to me, so I was intrigued to meet him. And I had to completely agree. He is one of the nicest, most inspiring leaders I’ve met in quite a while. He deeply cares about the welfare, the wellbeing and the aspirations of every member of his executive team.
His biggest concern was how he could support my client in achieving her career ambitions. He wants her to get crystal clear on the future she wants to create (he believes she could do anything she sets her heart on).
Unfortunately, a great line manager like this CEO seem to be few and far between. With the ever increasing demands in the workplace, line managers are pulled from pillar to post. Many just don’t have the time (or claim they don’t) to invest in the emotional needs of their teams. (The stuff that engages us, motivates us and helps us to enjoy our work).
On the flip side, there are many relationships with line managers that are difficult.
Poor line manager relationships are common.
For example, managers provide little or no performance feedback; unrealistic goals; no one on one time; not passing on key information; infrequent and rushed communication.
How would you rate your line manager relationship?
So, let’s turn our attention to you. What would you say is the strength of the relationship you have with your line manager? On a scale of 1 – 10 where 1 is dire and 10 is jumping for joy, where are you right now?
If you are less than a 7 then take a look at the suggestions below for how you can improve the relationship with your line manager.
7 Top Tips
- Take full responsibility. I’ve been reading Jack Canfield’s book (Success Principles) and he devotes a whole chapter to the need to take full responsibility for our actions. Too often we play the victim mode – or we blame others for the situation we are experiencing today. If only they would… are the words that we hear when we are stuck in blame. You have to take the bull by the horns and decide it’s time to take responsibility for the relationship. Remember this: every reaction you get, every situation you are faced with is all your own doing. It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but when you do, it’s incredibly liberating.
- Know what’s important to him / her professionally. Is he / her driven by results? Or is it relationships? Perhaps it’s about making a difference? Or often it can be their reputation. How do they define success in their role? Do you know what their objectives are? Once you know this you can align your performance, your communication and your decisions based upon their criteria for success. I promise you this will make a big difference to your relationship.
- Know what’s important to him / her personally.What do they like to do outside of work? What do you know of their family? Friends? Hobbies? Sports? Learning? Spirituality? Community activities? Have you any areas of commonality? This is the stuff that gets people interested and motivated far more than focusing on results.
- Start giving each other feedback.Line Managers are often in the dark about the impact they are having. Now for some, this would be a step too far. The exposure of weaknesses can often be too much for the ego. Yet, when managers do take on board what others think, it can be massive in terms of strengthening the relationship. It’s not always negative feedback. Start sharing what you do value about working for them too.
- Ways of working.Now this is a biggie. There are too many assumptions I’ve found in the way that individuals like to work. What do you know about your line manager’s communication style? Face to face? Email? Phone? Morning? Evening? Sharing of Problems? If you’ve not already done this, then reset the ground-rules as to how you can both work better together.
- Thinking and decision making.Next you need to get clear on how they like to make decisions and how they expect you to make decisions too. Are they a fast and impulsive? Or measured and reflective? Are they a risk taker? What about big picture thinker v. In the detail? How does this compare to your style? If you don’t know then ask.
- Consider how you can help your manager succeed.Who do you need to inform and influence about your manager? How can you better communicate the value that you / they bring? If you can focus on helping him or her achieve their goals and aspirations, in most cases, they will also do whatever is in their power to help you. It’s called the reciprocity effect.
Armed with these strategies, you’ll be well placed to building a great relationship with your manager moving forward.
Good luck and let me know if you have other strategies that have worked! I’d love to hear them.
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