In a nutshell: To be truly effective, evaluation needs to work in two directions.
You’ve probably had your fair share of incompetent managers during your career. In fact, a bad boss is the No. 1 reason people leave their employer, according to The Balance’s “Top 10 Reasons Why Employees Quit Their Jobs.”
Managing up – the act of sharing constructive feedback to your boss – may not be easy if you have an all-knowing or insecure manager. Here are some do’s and don’ts to guide you through this delicate process.
Define success. One way to be sure you and your boss are on the same page is to set check-in meetings (at least every quarter, and maybe more frequently depending on your industry, company and role) with your boss. A lot of employees make the mistake of only attending goal-setting, priority-shifting meetings their manager sets. But, you should schedule them as you see fit to build a rapport with your boss and keep communication lines open. If feedback is a two-way street, then it doesn’t seem like such a big deal when you receive it. It’s up to you to understand what your boss expects from you so you can meet those needs. They’ll take your input more seriously if you’re performing up to par.
Understand your role – and your boss’. Your manager hired you to do a job, even if has evolved over time. So, your focus should be on understanding what your boss hired you to do and executing on that. Don’t let all the other potential problems you see (and can fix!) distract you from any immediate concerns your boss may have. You can address everything else once you’ve tackled what’s most important. Your manager will be more willing to listen to you if you’ve been able to do your job. Remember, your manager only made it to where he or she is now because they’ve done something (or many things) well enough to warrant more responsibility. So, respect what he or she says during feedback conversations.
Accept your differences. This “do” is probably one that will take time to figure out, but it can to build a mutually beneficial relationship with your boss. You and your manager should be aware of and comfortable explicitly discussing behavioral and personality differences, according to Levene Coaching & Consulting’s “5 Key Practices for Managing Up Effectively.” Areas to focus on include how decisions are made (objectively versus values-driven), the degree of detail orientation (intuitive versus facts-based), the degree of structure (planful versus optimistic) and task versus people orientation. If you can broach these subjects with your manager, it will give you a better understanding of where he or she is coming from and help you reframe their behaviors instead of getting frustrated by them.
Be a suck-up. Some people instinctively think “managing up” means “sucking up.” (Not true.) You can build a healthy relationship with your boss without being his or her “yes man,” according to Idealist Career’s “The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Up.” The point of managing up is to give your manager constructive feedback from a subordinate’s perspective. By yessing your superior to death, you’re never going to accomplish that and gain mutual respect. You can be supportive (if the proposed solution makes sense) and positive (point out what’s good about what he or she suggested) without agreeing wholeheartedly with every idea.
Try to manage. According to Forbes’ “My Advice on Managing Up – Don’t,” the majority of successful leaders enjoy being challenged, but there probably aren’t many who want to be managed by their subordinates. As an employee, you should be eager to engage and collaborate, but only challenge them when necessary, and advise when you have a unique perspective and can add value to the discussion. Only object when it’s the right thing to do … and don’t take this consideration lightly. If you can no longer be loyal to your boss, it may be time to work for someone or somewhere else.
Get involved in politics. Going to work every day with the same people requires skillful relationship management. There may be personal conversations that occur and you may even forge friendships with coworkers – it’s often encouraged through company team-building events and activities these days. But, it’s important to remain professional with all coworkers, including your boss. While you want to build a strong relationship with your manager, it’s best to avoid mixing business and pleasure.
Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind when you’re building a bond with your new boss or forging a better connection with your current manager. They will keep you on the appropriate path to a healthy working relationship.