How many times have you asked your manager what he/she wants you to do or how
they want you to do it? Probably often! However, I think there is a question you
would like to ask your manager but never do. The question is: What do you
really expect from me?
This month I share my view on what your manager really wants from you based on
my conversations with managers that come from across the business and multiple
What Your Manager Really Wants from You
Even in situations where there
is overwhelming attention to employee performance metrics, it’s not always clear
what the manager wants or expects. Why? Maybe there’s a presumption that those
expectations are already clear, but they’re not. Or, maybe the employees are
placing pressure on themselves to do better (“I am a strong performer, but
maybe that’s not enough.”). In any event, there’s a joint
responsibility to ensure that expectations are well-articulated and understood.
But, sadly, that kind of effective communication (especially listening) doesn’t
happen with the frequency or the quality that it should.
What follows is what I have
observed are your manager’s expectations for you and your peers. I am fortunate
enough to work with these managers who come from a diverse span of industries
and professions: architecture, engineering, computer, bio-pharma, education,
technology, and advertising to name a few. Let me offer what I have heard your
manager wants from you.
Your manager wants you to
Uncompromisingly focused on meeting objectives and
completing projects or initiatives in a timely, responsible fashion. And if
things are falling short, your manager is expecting some sort of
- Meet Objectives/No Surprises
Well aware of the particular numbers or initiatives that
are of critical importance to him or her. Notice I didn’t say
“…important to the company…” Your manager wants you to make him/her look
good by meeting the department or group objectives. Are you fluent in those
numbers, and do you keep your manager apprised of where they are trending?
You should be. Also, if these numbers or projects are veering off course,
your manager wants you to come to him/her with the problem early, armed with
three well-thought-out possible solutions.
- Meet Your Manager’s Objectives
On top of the pulse of your organization, your employees
and of your customers. You should know where the stress points are, what’s
causing the stresses and what’s being done about them.
- Support Other People and Organizations
Clear on where the business is going in the broader sense
and in the longer term. You should have a respectable point of view on where
the company should be going and why.
- Know Your Business and Industry
Knowledgeable about your people and their people — their
strengths, weaknesses, and potential. Know how their jobs help the company
meet its goals. Know how their jobs are tied to your organization’s
- Hire Top Performers, Support Them and Keep Them Trained
Building a following of competent people who trust you,
trust each other, keep you in the loop, and feel as if you are there to help
and guide without getting in the way or taking credit for their work. If
people are not coming to you to ask for help, you are not meeting this
- Remove Impediments Preventing Your Employees from Doing Their Jobs
Capable of identifying problems on the horizon, analyzing
them, and problem-solving effectively — either alone or in collaboration
with colleagues — on a timely basis.
- Plan Ahead
Able to play well with others consistently. That is,
confident enough to say what you think and also confident enough to hear,
respect, and integrate others’ views into your own perspective.
- Build Positive Relationships with Everyone
You can use
this list in two ways.
better understand your manager’s perspective, on what he/she wants from you;
validate your expectations of employees you manage.