While there’s no shortage of talk about how employers can keep their best and brightest from jumping ship—and working hard—there’s not much chatter about how to keep managers happy.
Yes, bosses are people, too, and they need just as much encouragement, opportunity, and challenges as the rest of us. And while much of that responsibility lies with a manager’s manager, there’s actually a lot that you, as an employee, can do to help keep a great leader around.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of having a good manager, check out these ways you can make sure he or she stays at the helm.
1. Show—and Tell
Some of the proudest moments I’ve had as a manager were when I saw my staff take a concept we’d been working on together and run with it.
The first time I recognized this was with the administrative assistant for my group. She had been struggling with the call volume our group received and had asked for some guidance. We sat down and outlined a few tricks on taking notes, dealing with frustrated or demanding callers, and general phone etiquette. She was appreciative of the time I spent with her, but I didn’t expect to hear anything about it after that.
But, much to my surprise, about a week later, she approached me to give me an update on how our mini-training session had helped her. I was happy that she found my guidance so useful that she was compelled to tell me about it—but what was even better was when I saw her in action later that day, handling a particularly hairy call with ease. It’s one thing to have an employee tell you she’s figured something out, but it’s pretty great to see those skills in action.
If you’ve got a great manager who takes the time to actually teach you something, make sure you aren’t shy about showing—and telling—how that training has paid off. Trust me, he or she will appreciate the feedback.
2. Get to Know Your Manager
I know, getting cozy with your boss seems like a sketchy endeavor—and it’s not something I’d advise pursuing without caution. But truth be told, lots of managers end up feeling disconnected with their staff because pretty much everyone is terrified to get too close.
I’ll say it again: Managers are people, too. That means they have feelings, and want to feel included in the group—even if they’re the ones signing the paychecks.
I picked up on this with one of my first supervisors. I was new to the workforce and pretty much terrified to approach my boss with a work question, let alone anything that might involve his life outside the office. But, when several of my colleagues and I were chatting about a band we were all going to see that night, our boss overheard and excitedly chimed in that he was going, too. Everyone clammed up immediately and quickly changed the subject. I could see the excitement drain from my boss’ face, and I felt terrible.
Since this was my first time seeing the band, I used that as an opportunity to ask him about other shows he’d been to—and pried a few good stories out of him in the process. It wasn’t long before he was smiling again—I even saw him at the show that night.
Finding small ways to connect with your manager can mean more than you think. It doesn’t have to be super personal, but every once in a while, show some interest. Your boss will appreciate not feeling like “the man,” if even just for a moment.
3. Trust Your Manager
It’s not always the case, but sometimes, your manager knows best. Obviously, that trust has to be earned, but once it has, showing your boss you trust her to do her job and help you do yours is a huge vote of confidence.
A great example of this was when one of my first star employees decided to resign. (I know, it sounds strange that someone quitting is a great example of showing trust, but hear me out.) He had worked for me for about a year, and I knew he’d be looking elsewhere fairly soon—he’d just outgrown the role, and I’d given him all the special projects and responsibilities I could. And, when the time finally came for him to resign, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me, however, was how he did it. Rather than simply telling me when his two-week notice period was effective, he asked for my advice.
He told me he appreciated my insight as a manager and trusted my opinion. I was impressed that he had the courage to come to me with such a sensitive topic, but mostly, I was humbled and flattered that he trusted me enough to ask my opinion—especially when I easily could’ve given him a hundred reasons why he shouldn’t quit.
That trust that we’d built over that year was a great reminder of how strong the relationship can be between a boss and her employees, and reminded me why I loved being a manager.
As anyone who’s had an awesome boss knows, they’re not too common. So, if you’re fortunate enough to have one, don’t be afraid to let that person know how much you appreciate him or her. I guarantee your boss will continue to do his or her best to help you succeed in your career, too.