managing your manager Pitman

Your Manager and YOU! Ten Magic Rules for a Great Relationship

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Managing your manager is a topic that gets thrown about LinkedIn and other professional forums a lot. Yet it never seems to be explained in any detail. So, let’s get real – is managing your manager actually a possibility? Just imagine for a minute what would happen if you attempted to boss your boss? Managers have the authority, responsibility, seniority and power so they call all the shots…or do they? Managing your manager is really about managing the RELATIONSHIP you have with your manager, and that’s where the magic comes in.

A definition of magic from The Concise Oxford Dictionary is “inexplicable or remarkable influence producing surprising results”. As a PA you are expected to magic up impossible flights, conjure up reservations, get your boss out of Houdini-like situations and be a regular mind-reader. As a PA you may have already cornered the market in magic in these sorts of things but you may still be at the beck and call of circumstances and fed up of pulling rabbits out of the hat reactively.

You need a positive and productive relationship with your boss built on mutual respect. An excellent relationship will be founded on trust – trust in your abilities and judgment. This ensures your boss delegates, communicates and confides the right stuff to enable you to be proactive and use your initiative for the best results. It also requires a relationship of equals and like minds, not always easy if your boss and you are actually not so like-minded.

There is at least one key thing you have in common though – your interdependence. You are both aiming for the same result and trying to achieve the same thing. Never forget your success is dependent on each other. So it’s no good focusing on the differences or problems – they are often down to communication issues.

Have you considered the type of person your boss is and looked at things from their point of view? It helps to work out your boss’s style and mirror that in terms of pace, formality and attention to detail, for example.

Do you know your boss’s objectives and understand the business and priorities of the team? Are you up to date with company information and objectives so you can talk on equal terms? Taking a real interest in this and developing this knowledge allows you to make more informed and proactive decisions and talk to key people who can help.

Always put your boss’s priorities first. They will tend to spend their time where their anxieties are, so find out current concerns and prioritise your delivery in these key areas.

Be honest and keep your boss well informed – everyone hates nasty surprises so anticipating things that could go wrong and taking preventative action or providing timely solutions makes a real difference and builds trust..

That’s the real magic – keeping one step ahead so that it all looks calm, simple and in control!


Ten magic rules for the perfect PA/Boss Partnership:

  • Gain commitment to a regular communication system that suits you both, to keep up to date on current and future priorities and potential pitfalls. Make sure you are both clear on what you need from each other
  • Be clear on your responsibilities and objectives and the standards expected of you
  • Understand your boss’s priorities and pressures and let your boss know what you need in order to support them
  • Use your authority – agree what you should ‘Just do’, ‘Do and tell’ or ‘Ask and do’
  • Meet deadlines and provide accurate information – if you don’t know find out.
  • Exercise total discretion and maintain the profile and image of your office
  • Know what the organisation does, its competitors, aims and your boss’s place in the framework
  • Ask for feedback periodically and always on a new tasks or project. Never confuse feedback with criticism
  • Tackle relationship issues early but choose your time – get urgent or critical business out of the way first.
  • Learn from mistakes and take responsibility for your own performance and training

Good relationships are essential in the workplace – as in life. Dealing effectively with people is something you can learn and great communication lays the strong foundation necessary for a positive and successful outcome.

Please share your own professional secrets – what is your own magic rule that we may have missed?


To find out more about this and how to build on your top PA magic, have a look at the Pitman Training Executive PA Masterclass here