4 Ways to Manage Your Manager

Try these tactics to breathe easier in the office.

Posted Apr 14, 2019

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Does your manager regularly set unrealistic deadlines for projects? Do you wonder which project to complete first because it is nearly impossible to do everything asked in a regular workday? Do you feel overwhelmed and unsure of next steps?

Remember that your boss is likely more interested in getting the work done when and how he wants it than in making you miserable. Be your own biggest cheerleader. We all need mental and physical rest in order to operate at our finest.

Try these simple tactics to set clear boundaries with your boss:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Say something like, “Boss, I want to meet your expectations. In order to complete this task with quality, I can move the other project I was working on to a date that is later in the week. Originally, we agreed that that project was of priority. So, before pushing it to the side, I wanted to check with you. Would you rather me complete this project by Wednesday or that project by Wednesday?”
  2. If both projects are urgent for the boss, then suggest that someone else tackle one of the assignments. Or, ask if the project can be streamlined. Try, “Boss, since both projects are high priority items, I propose that Mary tackle this one and I’ll focus on that one. That way, both can be handled efficiently and with quality.”
  3. Speak up while still letting the boss know you are on her side. “In order to complete this task with quality, I need…” works well. “In order to complete this task with quality, I need a day’s break in between major deliverables.” Or, “In order to complete this task with quality, I need to switch off between intense projects and less intense projects.”
  4. Be honest about your strengths and areas of opportunity. “Boss, I really want to complete this task with quality. I am not familiar with this program. Could you direct me to a relevant website?” Or, “May I pair up with someone who has experience here so that I may learn…?”

Tip: It is not uncommon for employees to avoid such direct language for fear of appearing incompetent or lazy. Surprisingly, a boss is likely to look upon this direct language favorably. This is especially true if the alternative is a missed deadline or worse, a deliverable that is of less-than-ideal quality.

Copyright© 2019 Amy Cooper Hakim