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Coaching Up - How to Coach Your Manager

As an employee, the person with the most influence over your career is your manager or supervisor. Today, the mantra “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers” is becoming a well-accepted truth—with good reason. At the core of every toxic work environment, there is either a toxic leader or a manager who allows toxicity to takeover. Coaching your manager is essential to your success and the overall success of your company.

Depending on where you are in the company hierarchy, your direct manager might supervise anywhere from 2 to 20+ employees. In addition to managing employees, your manager is simultaneously navigating his or her career. So, how do you influence your boss’s managing and communication style? Start by using these simple tips below to coach and support them.

Tips on Coaching Your Boss

Be Proactive

You and your manager are busy, so it is important to establish regular meetings (or touch-points) with your manager. This can be as often as the both of you agree on but get this reoccurring meeting on the books today! Start by scheduling 30 minutes for the meeting. You can always adjust the duration down the line.

Take Charge

Before the meeting, write out the topics you want to discuss and stick to the list! This is YOUR one-on-one time so own the conversation. If you allow your manager to lead this meeting you run the risk of getting all their questions or concerns addressed and none of yours. Your voice matters. The agenda ensures that you cover what’s important to you and conveys to your boss that you are efficient and prepared.

Be Direct

Whether your manager is new to management or has 10 years of experience, it is likely their first time managing YOU. Be open and honest about what you need. If you prefer weekly check-in's or if you thrive with a lot of autonomy, voice that to your manager. What is your communication preference (emails, IMs, phone calls, text messages, etc.)? When you are clear on what you need you to give your manager permission to diversify their management style.

Be Futuristic

As the world grows and technology advances, so will you. Your manager has a direct insight into how you are as an employee and where the company is headed. Have candid conversations with your manager about how they see your current role expanding. Ask them which skills you need to improve on, and which future roles are best for you. They can become your biggest advocate but they need to know that you’re thinking about the future.

Be Patient

The pyramids were not built in a day. Managing people is a learned skill that could take years to master. Things will not be perfect after your first one-on-one/meeting. Just like any relationship, give your boss time to digest the feedback and make the necessary changes. As the professional relationship matures, you will find yourselves on the same page more often.

BONUS: Be Coachable

Reciprocity is a beautiful thing. As you create the space for honest dialogue and preferences, your manager may have suggestions for you as well. Listen and be willing to implement their recommendations. This displays flexibility and your openness to continuous improvement.

Managers are not perfect. Some are clueless about how their employees feel about them and their management style. If you want to improve your work (and company) environment, speak up and follow the tips above to establish new manager-employee norms.

Comment below and share your tips and thoughts on coaching up!

-Marcell Jackson, Founder of Professionally Developed

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