12 ways to manage your manager

12 ways to manage your manager

Tired of being stepped on at work? It's time to stand tall and get on top of your career by improving your communication skills.
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Sep 01, 2011

You go to work every day ready to grab life by the tail, right? Well, sort of. As a veterinary team member, a lot of your job satisfaction and success is based upon the practice environment, and that's usually set by your practice manager or hospital owner. At times, you may feel like you're helpless to change that environment.

But you're more than a tiny voice in your practice. You possess the ability to influence the culture in your workplace and determine the outcome of your day. When you work alongside your management team instead of simply working under it, you can quit the cat-and-mouse communication game found in so many practices.

Consider this: Your manager is not a predator, and you're not prey. You're a valuable member of your veterinary practice. And if you're feeling unappreciated, it's time to change how you're managed and how you work with your manager. So don't get caught in the trap of poor management. Here are 12 tips for scurrying to the top.

1. Take a language lesson. What's your manager's communication preference? In other words, how does she prefer to process information? Does she tend to make instantaneous decisions or ponder things for a while? Does she think big picture or focus on smaller details? Does she come to work in the morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, or is she most alert and aware in the afternoon? Consider all of these factors when deciding how to approach your manager.

2. Do your homework. When possible, solve your own minor work issues and demonstrate that you don't need to rely on your manager to resolve everything. But do inform her of anything that will directly affect her. Follow the "What-So-Now" rule. When you discuss an issue with your manager, fill her in on:

What: What is the issue?

So: What does it mean?

Now: What will you do?

3. Develop a plan. You have great ideas, but your vision isn't so great unless you've actually figured out how to implement it. Your manager is busy, so don't approach her with a half-baked idea that still needs tons of brainstorming and development. What are the benefits of your idea? How will you put things in motion? Clearly identify this, as well as what the end result will be. It's easier for a boss to approve a fully formed idea that doesn't require work on her part. Remember, your goal is to get your idea in place, not add it to the pit where good thoughts go to be forgotten.

4. Show compassion. Let's say you work with Sandy at the front desk. Her grandmother passed away over the weekend and you and your team will go out of your way to give her an extra smile to show you care. But, honestly, would you do the same for your boss? If the head veterinary technician seems out of sorts, you might first assume she's mad at one of your team members or unhappy about someone's job performance. But maybe she had a stressful weekend. While you and your veterinary team members might hold the management team to higher standards, remember that they're human too. Treat them as such.

5. Take time to talk. Ask to have a 10-minute meeting with your manager on a regular basis. Use this time to touch base and to ask how you can be more productive. It's easier to go above and beyond when you know what your boss expects of you.

6. Forget gossip girl. Gossip is unproductive and can damage your team and your practice. Avoid making negative comments about your boss to other team members. If you have an issue with someone, talk directly to that person, not everyone else in the building. These are the times to put on your big-girl professional pants.