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Here’s Why Your ‘OK’ Manager Is Actually Good Enough

Topics: Career Advice

As the old saying goes, “You don’t quit a job; you quit a manager.”

Data gathered for PayScale’s whitepaper, The Formula for a Winning Company Culture, bear that out. We asked users to rate how strongly they agreed with the statement, “I have a great relationship with my direct manager” on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The results showed that employees who agree that they have a great relationship with their manager are much less likely to leave than those who are neutral or disagree.

But there’s very little difference in intent to leave between those who selected 4 and 5 as a response. It doesn’t seem to matter whether your manager is great, or just OK. As long as you have a positive relationship with your manager, you’ll probably stick around.

When it comes to managers, it seems that OK is good enough.

How to Improve Your Relationship With Your Manager

Having a good manager can make or break your tenure with a company. Of course, you can’t change a bad boss into a good one through sheer force of will.

You can, however, focus on improving your relationship with your good-enough manager by doing what you can to facilitate communication and teamwork. Start by doing the following:

1. Give your boss a break.

Managing people is hard, and most organizations don’t provide much in the way of support. Your boss may have always longed to lead people … or they might’ve been promoted to a management position semi-against their will.

In any case, it pays to put yourself in their shoes, and cut them the slack you’d want if you had their job.

2. Learn their communication style.

Some managers want updates in person; others prefer email or messaging, to preserve their own precious heads-down work time. There’s no right or wrong answer … unless leader and team are out of sync with one another. Ask for guidance about the best times and ways in which to pass on information. Your boss will appreciate it, and it will make your life easier.

3. Take the initiative.

Don’t wait for your manager to take the lead on deadlines, goals or communication. Reach out before things get out of hand, and take responsibility for managing your own projects.

It’s also crucial not to wait for praise. Recognition is important, but being a professional means having the ability to soldier on without it from time to time.

4. Be trustworthy.

Say what you’re going to do, and then do it. Be early to meetings and on project deadlines — and communicate in advance when the inevitable problems arise.

5. Make the boss look good.

“Everyone cares about their work reputation, or at least they should,” says Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, in an interview with Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes. “If you can make your boss look good, they will be happy–and if they’re happy, you’ll be happy.”

Teach also reminds us that this means not correcting or embarrassing your boss in front of others. Be the employee you’d want to lead.

Managers, do you need tips on how to increase employee job satisfaction and prevent attrition? Check out PayScale’s latest whitepaper, The Formula for a Winning Company Culture.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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