Successful managers have well-developed communication skills. They know that success comes from communicating expectations to their team members and listening to their concerns. However, one of the most important but overlooked communication skills for managers is effectively communicating with and influencing their own manager.

“Just think of the job and how to be effective in it. How do you get the resources you need, the information you need, the advice, even the permission to keep at it? The answers always point toward whoever has the power, the leverage — that is, the boss. To fail to make that relationship one of mutual respect and understanding is to miss a major factor in being effective.”
~ John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter., authors

Tips for Communicating Up
Avoid miscommunication with your manager leading to confusion and frustration by using these tips:

  • Listen Actively: Perfect your listening skills to learn as much as you can about your company and industry. Use your listening skills to also learn about the issues that concern your manager, and look for ways to contribute to his/her success.
  • Agree on Priorities: I frequently hear “I work so hard but my manager doesn’t recognize my efforts.” It’s likely that you are working hard on the wrong priorities! Meet with your manager and get agreement on the priorities for your job and your team.
  • Focus on Solutions: Be the person who provides the manager with not only potential problems but also suggested solutions and the benefits to the organization for implementing your ideas.
  • Learn Preferences: Get to know your manager’s preferences in how and when to communicate. Learning the manager’s DiSC style will assist you in being flexible in your approach.
  • Use Organized Messages: Your manager is busy, so when you get communication opportunities, make sure your messages are well-thought out, clear, concise, and delivered from your manager’s point of view. Don’t make your manager guess the purpose of your communication.

Perfecting your ability to communicate with your manager and developing a productive working relationship, will result in greater respect for you and your team and the opportunity to influence decision making.

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