How to communicate with your manager
Who says talk is cheap? Probably not your manager! Follow these tips to keep the lines of communication between the two of you open.
1. Match your manager’s communication style.
Using a communication style familiar to your manager increases the chances that he or she will understand what you are trying to say. If he primarily uses emails, then send mostly emails. If she likes to talk by phone, then talk by phone. Does he like to hear about the details first and then the conclusion, or the conclusion first and then the details? Observe how your manager communicates and try to emulate his or her style.
2. Keep your manager informed of all significant developments.
Your manager is constantly called upon to explain and defend your activities to his or her boss, as well as coordinate your activities into a larger plan. You need to keep him or her updated. But what should you communicate, and when?
The answer varies from manager to manager so it is best to ask your manager directly about his or her preferences. Try to filter the most important information from the rest so that your manager does not feel overwhelmed by unnecessary details. But when in doubt, over-communicate. Your manager will tell you if you are covering too much ground.
3. Break bad news quickly.
Everyone makes mistakes and accidents happen. It’s important that you tell your manager about them quickly. Ideally, you should do so along with a proposed solution. If you haven’t worked out a solution yet but think you can, tell your manager that you are working on one and will get back to him or her shortly.
4. Bring your manager solutions, not just problems.
When you become aware of an issue, spend some time thinking about possible solutions. Then, when you present the problem to your manager, you can follow it up with “I’d propose we try ….” Those words will be music to your manager’s ears!