When we join a new company bright-eyed and bushy tailed, we don’t always take into account that our primary connection to that company may be our boss. In the post about the questions to ask before you accept a job, I mentioned you should meet your boss (a lot) and meet their direct reports. I stand by that. But what do you do when that boss just isn’t up to snuff once you join? Or, if you have a constant rotation of new bosses. You know that book Are You My Mother? It can be like that at times, and you may need to fight the urge to start asking new bosses just how long they’re planning on staying around for. Just so I’m ready for the next changeover.
Nina Sunday posted a great story to LinkedIn explaining that employees don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers. In order to encourage engagement, direct management is one of the main drivers to focus on as a company.
To be clear, I don’t believe all employees should become managers, even if they have more experience. Something to consider in a company is whether or not someone will be a good manager, and if they want to be a manager in the first place. There should be ways to create upward mobility within a company that do not require every employee to have direct reports. Some employees just aren’t cut out to be managers, and that shouldn’t dock them points in the corporate ladder.
Some areas that make managers pretty up to snuff are:
- Recognize direct reports for a job well done
- Deliver consistent and transparent feedback
- Demonstrate visible support
- Offer clear direction
- Take the time to set goals
As an employee, you can take the opportunity to manage up a bit, and make it clear to your manager (or series of managers) that these five areas are important to you. If you manager doesn’t set up time with you, schedule bi-weekly 1x1s so you can try these approaches:
- Recognize direct reports for a job well done – when you do a good job, toot your own horn and send a note to your manager. Even better, have someone you worked with do it.
- Deliver consistent and transparent feedback – just ask your manager for feedback. Often.
- Demonstrate visible support – when you require assistance, make it clear to your manager how you’d like to see them support you.
- Offer clear direction – if you’re left puzzled, ask for clarification, no matter how silly it makes you feel.
- Take the time to set goals – don’t wait for your manager to schedule that “optional” quarterly review, go ahead and schedule it with a prepped “Brag Bag” to talk through
As an employee, we can take some Manager issues into our own hands to encourage a strong mentorship between parties. It’s worked for me, maybe it will work for you.