Managing Your Manager: Free Preview

You’ve landed on a free preview of the Managing Your Manager course. We’ve selected two lessons that will help give you an idea of what this course is all about. You’ll find them below. If you’d like to access the rest of the lessons or course materials, you can purchase the course here:

Lesson 3 – Determining Your Manager’s Communication Style

“Wise men speak because they have something to say…fools because they have to say something.”

Communicating with Upper Management

A big challenge concerning internal communication within an organization is creating effective lines of communication between middle and upper management. Communication is one of the most crucial elements of a business’s success because management isn’t typically engaged in all of the tactical details of daily tasks. In an organization with many hierarchical levels, individual employees rarely get the opportunity to sit down with the CEO or the vice president to brief them about the mundane operations of the company.

However, that doesn’t mean that individual employees aren’t a valuable source of the information that upper management vitally needs to receive. Important information makes its way up or down the corporate ladder through the receiving, condensing, and presenting of reports by employees at each level along the way. This is why it’s so crucial that communication channels remain clear between you and your immediate manager; it’s the only way to ensure that information easily circulates through every level of the corporate hierarchy.

Categorizing Your Manager’s Communication Style

As we’ve said before, checking in with your immediate manager is essential to your career prospects. However, that doesn’t mean you should swamp your boss with unwanted updates and reports! Most managers are generally well-rounded and yet skew toward a certain style of communication. The following are five common communication preferences that your manager may exhibit:

  1. Too Long; Didn’t Read (TLDR) managers prefer short updates and crisp sentences. These managers want high-level overviews of what you’re doing, but don’t want to be bothered by any tactical minutiae. TLDR managers will:
    1. ignore long reports and ask for you to summarize them instead
    2. send out bullet-pointed emails with minimal details
  2. Micro-managers want detailed reports of implied and explicit events. Did you run into an issue with one of your colleagues? How did the launch of the new accounting system go? This type of manager loves to get into all the nitty-gritty details and will expect updates on even the tactical aspects of your job. Micro-managers will:
    1. ask you for frequent updates
    2. be quick to take back control of tasks they’ve assigned to others 
  3. Seagull managers tend to keep their distance from their employees until they fly in and cause a ruckus when they think things aren’t going their way. Once they leave, the environment will become peaceful again; but each time they swoop in, it will incite emotional turmoil within the team. Seagull managers will:
    1. be hands-off until they charge in to demand progress and results
    2. often speak loudly and abrasively, but aren’t mean
  4. Delegation managers trust their employees to get things done and prefer to be called in only when something is wrong. Unless there is an emergency, these managers are too busy with higher level responsibilities to be involved in the routine operations of the team. Delegation managers will:
    1. tell you their expectations very clearly, then disappear
    2. tend to offer infrequent feedback
  5. Face-to-face meeting managers love meetings and believe it’s very important to have regular 1:1 direct reports and weekly team meetings. These managers pride themselves on always being approachable by their employees and feel out of control if they aren’t interfacing with their direct reports on a regular basis. Face-to-face managers will:
    1. instruct you to schedule times to talk to them, even when the conversation will be short
    2. expect a summary of your team’s progress if a scheduled meeting is missed

Reflecting on Your Manager’s Communication Style

Since your manager’s communication style impacts your success at your company, it’s important to sort your manager into one of these categories and adapt your communication style to match. Use the following questions to help you examine your manager’s communication style:

  1. Of these communication styles, which style does your manager skew toward most?
  2. How has your manager’s communication style impacted your interactions with them?
  3. When have you ignored your manager’s communication style? Has this caused friction between you and your manager?
  4. Knowing this, what can you do to adapt your communication style to work best with your manager?

To Do:

  1. In your Managing Your Manager Journal, complete the “Manager Communication Style” worksheet to figure out how your manager communicates in the workplace.

Lesson 4 – How to Prevent Performance Review Surprises

“When you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘you’ and ‘me.”

Welcome back!

In the last lesson, we talked about how to identify your manager’s communication style. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at how and when to ask for feedback from your direct manager. But before we begin, you might be asking, “What is a performance review?”

A performance review is a quarterly, biannual, or yearly meeting between you and your direct manager where you go over the work you have completed and your manager provides you with feedback on what you have done well and what you could do better. This audit is followed by a rating. If you performed well, then you could possibly earn a pay raise and a promotion.

Implied Expectations Lead to Missed Expectations

Your manager has expectations for what you should and shouldn’t be doing. The problem is we only get to see those expectations when we review the job description. After that, we tend to never see them again. 

There are two types of expectations that your manager has for you that are critical to understand if you want to make sure there are no surprises during your performance review:

  1. Explicit expectations: These are expectations that your manager expects you to achieve that are vocalized or committed to writing. Explicit expectations are clear and hard to misinterpret.
  2. Implicit expectations: These are expectations that are never written down or spoken. They are the things that you and your manager assume you should be doing. The problem is you can both have vastly different ideas of what you should be doing. These are the expectations that lead to negative performance reviews because they are so easy to overlook or misunderstand. As such, implicit expectations can cause confusion and frustration for you and your manager. One of the surest ways to avoid the dangers of implicit expectations and to verify that your approach continues to meet your manager’s expectations is to schedule regular check-ins. These check-ins will function like mini performance reviews.

Setting the Right Expectations

When you sit down with your direct manager for a 1:1 check-in (a regularly scheduled private meeting with your manager to discuss your work), it’s important to go over your expectations for each other. Here is a good way to prepare for a regular check-in:

  1. Create a list of expectations you have for yourself and your manager. Make sure that your list contains items that you and your manager can realistically evaluate. Frame your points so that you and your manager can objectively judge them wherever possible.
    1. Order your list with high-priority items at the top. This will help you focus on which items are most important.
    2. Double-check that these expectations are sufficient. Adjust your list until you are confident that if you do every item, your manager will be completely satisfied with your performance. 
    3. Have a plan for how you will achieve each item on your list. If you aren’t sure about how to do something, ask your manager to walk through that item with you. Part of their job is to teach you how to do yours, and they want you to succeed as much as you do.
  2. Share your list with your manager. Discuss your expectations in terms of achievements and time frames. How does your manager expect you to get things done? When do they expect you to get them done?
  3. Discuss anything that will require your manager’s help to resolve. Managers do not like surprises, so do your best to keep them informed on how you’re doing and what they can do to help you.
  4. Ask your manager what’s on their plate. Too many people focus on their needs and don’t focus on the needs of their manager. You can find new opportunities to grow and solidify your standing with your manager by putting their needs ahead of yours, so ask your manager if there’s anything you can do to assist them.
  5. Don’t make assumptions about your manager’s expectations of you. In most cases, your manager is your manager because they’ve already done what you must do and proven they are good at it. This means that you can learn from them.

To Do:

  1. Use your Managing Your Manager Journal to plan a 1:1 with your manager.


We have an email template you can copy/paste and send to your manager to let them know what you’ll learn in the course, and if it will qualify for reimbursement. You can find that here.

This course is a total of 1 hour long. 
– *Completion of the workbook is optional and outside of this timeframe.
To see everything included in this course, please click here!

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Meet Your Instructors

Jordan Thibodeau

Jordan has spent over a decade forging relationships with CEOs, authors, and entrepreneurs through his professional work on Google’s Mergers and Acquisitions Team, and Google’s Talks Program - a TED-like series recorded for offices worldwide. Jordan’s also the community manager and founder of the Silicon Valley Investor’s Club (SVIC).

Joe Ternasky

Joe is an engineering leader who has dedicated the majority of his career to developing, training, and educating culturally diverse teams. He has been an instrumental part of delivering technical experience to large-scale distributed systems, modern user experiences, cross-platform and multilingual applications.

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