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Over the course of our combined careers so far, we’ve had a lot of managers. It’s a weird time in the economy and things change quickly these days, so we need to be able to adapt easily to different personality types and management styles. That means understanding what a manager is looking for from us, and how we can ultimately make life easier for him or her.
That being said, we’ve learned a lot about the different types of managers out there and how to manage them. We shouldn’t think for a moment that we aren’t managing up every single fucking day. How our managers perceive us, treat us, and what they give us on that annual review has everything to do with how we manage them and how that appears to their manager.
Here is a guide to the six types of managers we’ve encountered so far and some advice for dealing with them.
The Mentor manager is the favorite. Sometimes it can feel as if he or she is a little nosy about your life, but it’s because your manager is actually interested in you as a person both inside and outside of work. He or she asks you what you are looking for in your current job and what your future plans are. The Mentor asks you what you like and dislike, and gives you work that you enjoy. This manager also gives constructive criticism and helps you to learn.
How To Manage: Be very appreciative. Ask for his or her advice and show you are listening and learning how be a better asset to the team.
The Flustered manager needs you to take the reins. He or she is likely not the best fit for the current position, but maybe worked in the office so long that he or she was promoted into it. This person is a little lost and all over the place, but overall, he or she is nice.
How To Manage: Stay on him or her like white on rice. If you have deadlines, don’t expect your manager will pay attention to them. Frequently remind him or her, as nicely as possible, what it is that you need and how he or she can help you do a better job. This can feel overwhelming, but in the end, it may actually serve to teach you some things.
The Preoccupied manager is okay, if you know what you’re doing. For the independent person, this manager might actually be your favorite. The Preoccupied is likely to give you an assignment and expect it emailed or presented to him or her without any questions or discussion in between. This type of manager is very busy and he or she doesn’t have time to answer questions.
How To Manage: Ask as many questions as you can about the assignment on the spot when it gets assigned. Be as thorough as possible, and only submit an assignment when it’s 100 percent complete. Don’t hover, try to hunt him or her down, or ask too many questions. Find out the best way to reach your manager for emergencies: email, text, phone calls, and so on.
The Newbie manager has likely never managed anyone before and has no idea what he or she is doing. This manager might not even be all that great at his or her own job and he or she certainly doesn’t know how to direct or educate anyone else.
How To Manage: You’re not going to learn much from this person and you might even need to teach The Newbie a few things. Be prepared to create to-do lists for him or her, support him or her in meetings, and make your ideas sound like they are your manager’s ideas. You’re in this together and if he or she fails, the team fails. Do what you can to make your manager look good and hopefully he or she will remember it come review time. Be careful not to show this manager up.
The Ego doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if you respect where the ego is coming from. This person thinks he or she is a genius and is God’s gift to the company. This manager wants to be invited to every meeting, and to be heard and revered every time he or she speaks.
How To Manage: If The Ego is well-founded and is actually a genius, stroke that ego. Ask for his or her advice when he or she is around. Take notes. Tell this manager you liked his or her latest blog article. Involve him or her in decision-making. If The Ego isn’t well founded, still stroke the ego. Either way, don’t come on too strong. You don’t want to look like too much of a kiss-ass–just enough so your manager likes you.
The Insecure is dangerous. This manager is threatened by everyone, both above and below him or her. The Insecure is unpredictable and known to both lie and kiss ass like no other. He or she will take credit for your ideas and throw you under the bus at the first opportunity to save his or her own ass.
How To Manage: Good luck. With The Insecure as your manager, you can’t excel or he or she will feel threatened. You also can’t fail. Don’t talk to his or her superiors, or your manager will feel like you are undermining him or her. Keep The Insecure informed and cover your ass as much as you can. Avoid mistakes at all cost and get out as soon as possible.