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Use Your Manager

Often we think of reports as doing things for managers, but as servant leadership becomes more and more accepted, a new burden falls on you as a report. Servant leaders need to know how they can serve.

Change Your Mindset

To start, you have to change your mindset; you are the driver of what your manager does. You are responsible for making your manager valuable. To get the total value out of them, you need to ask more of them and experiment with how they can make you better.

Patterns to Get Started

Here are a few examples of patterns that you can use to have your manager make you better.

Accountability Partner

Managers are great accountability partners. The basic pattern here is to tell your manager something you plan on doing and ask them to check back with you to see if you did it and how it went.

This can be very powerful for creating accountability around things that do not have immediate feedback loops.

One example from my own life is timesheets. I have repeatedly failed at getting all of my timesheets in on time. I've tried reminders, and I've tried different time tracking software. Finally, I just asked my manager to please ask me, at each one-on-one, if I got my timesheets in. Having to tell my manager I did not do that little task has made it, so I always have it done.

Feedback Investigator

While getting direct feedback from your peers is the most valuable way of getting feedback, sometimes your peers are not interested in giving direct, honest feedback. Also, sometimes there is feedback floating around the company not even attached to individuals. Managers can be tasked with gathering feedback for you!

This is even more powerful if done proactively (which also works with peers, by the way). Tell your manager what you are going to do and ask that they collect feedback on it.

It would be a better world if people would tell you directly, but until we get there, people might tell your manager things they would not tell you.

Sounding Board

You are about to try something big and maybe risky, and you want another opinion on the subject. Well, you have a person ready to hear you out!

You need to be careful not to come across as asking for permission, which would not be as valuable. Start with an "I am going to do X; I want you to help me refine the idea."

Help Me Understand

Your manager is your gateway to the company's leadership, and sometimes leadership does things that do not make sense. Your manager's job is to help you understand why choices are made and how they affect you.

So ask them to explain things. Note that they might not know right away, so ask them to go find out for you.

©Erik Summerfield 2022 Last Updated: 3/22/2022