How do you manage your relationship with your manager? Relationships, by their very nature, are difficult and complex to manage. Especially so is the most crucial relationship of all – with your manager.
In every organizational structure, a subordinate reports to a manager, who could be either a line manager, a function manager, a senior executive, the CEO or even the Chairman.
Recent statistics suggest that we spend up to one third of our life at work; that puts our work life quite high on the list of most time consuming relationships – besides our friendships, family, relatives and marriage. So how does one manage the relationship with their manager?
In a nutshell: precariously. Your relationship with your manager is a constant balancing act, a proverbial sword of Damocles hanging over your head, ready to chop it off at a moment’s notice.
It is important to realize that your manager is NOT your friend. You may be friendly with your manager, but they will never be your friend. The only time your manager can ever truly be your friend is if you knew them once before and were great friends, then coincidentally met a few years later in the same organization. Under those conditions, your manager is your friend, and you will be able to separate and compartmentalize your relationship with them.
Here are some scenarios you want to avoid being in with your manager:
It’s Valentines Day, you want to get out of work early to spend time with a loved one. In return, your manager asks you to buy flowers for their spouse, and deliver it to their house – as the flower delivery people will take too long. You even go the extra mile and write a lovely poem for their spouse, which is obviously not in the unintelligible handwriting they are used to reading, so you’re not really fooling anyone, but it’s the thought that counts.
It’s the 11th hour and there is an invisible deadline you are falling behind on; you stay in the office until 4 am with the understanding that the next day will be considered an off day. Sadly, you did not complete the task, so you go home and rest then head back to work at 3 pm, but from your Managers house. He said it will only take 2 hours. You end up leaving at 9:30 pm.
Your spouse had an accident. They’re fine but the insurance company wants to write off the car as a total loss. You take your manager with you and they help negotiate a loftier pay off that originally suggested by the insurance company.
You just finished running 43KM. You are dead tired and expecting to run the same distance the very next day. You need your sleep. Its 9PM and your manager calls you asking for help as their child requires a flag-colored accessory as their sibling damaged theirs and without it they will not be able to go to school tomorrow. Despite needing the rest, you opt to help your manager and end up getting home by 11PM. You cannot ask to come late the next day as this is a personal favor not related work.
You’ve scheduled lunch with your parents over the weekend. Your manager calls with a dilemma. You try to balance it out to help them and still make your lunch date. They end up having you drive them all over the country and despite your indignation, force you to postpone your lunch for their sake.
You’re running late at work and you’ve promised your spouse a meal together. Your manager suggests your spouse order whatever they want online and they will foot the bill, provided you stay at work till its done.
A good manager will inspire you and elevate you to higher rungs on the corporate ladder. A bad one will make you regret the day you walked into the office. As the saying goes, choose the companion before the journey.