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When making a good impression, most people focus on the job interview process. Company research, resume updates, and practicing answers to common questions often come before landing the position. But what happens after we earn our role?

Relationships are crucial to our well-being, including our careers. Managing your relationships with your manager will advance your career in three significant ways:

1. Enhance opportunities for internal and external projects

2. Promote you directly or increase your likelihood of a salary/pay increase

3. Give you visibility into your industry through networking opportunities

The caveat: this doesn’t happen independently. You have to be proactive about it. Leaders are busy and human — they are not necessarily keeping tabs on everything you’re doing.

Even if you’re an exceptional contributor to the company and are exceeding your metrics, you may need to remind your manager of the incredible work you’re doing to stay on their radar. You must learn how to manage your relationship with your manager to be seen and receive the benefits.

“You can’t expect anyone else to drive your career for you. You’ll reach your ambitions quicker when you leverage the right relationships and support from your manager.” — Nancy Twine

Four Ways to Manage Your Manager

To manage your manager, you have to manage your expectations. You shouldn’t expect to be automatically rewarded or recognized for every contribution you make. Not because you aren’t worthy or working hard enough, but because it’s up to you to define where you want to take your career and to build the relationships and support systems that will help you get there.

1. Communication

Communication helps you best manage your efforts. When it comes to your manager, communication means asking for clear expectations. Find out what’s authentically important rather than working towards what you think your manager wants.

You may be working overtime decluttering client files to make a good impression. Your manager, however, finds the most value from team members who generate fresh ideas during meetings. You’ll refocus and get ahead if you seek out expectations through communication and then work towards doing your best at meeting (or exceeding) those expectations.

2. Transparency

Being open and honest in the workplace can be daunting. (Especially when you’re speaking to a manager.) Transparency at work does require decorum, but transparent dialogue with your manager breeds a more robust and positive relationship built on trust.

Transparency can look like a report of your progress on a project, seeking guidance when needed, or giving your manager feedback about how you’re balancing your workload. A solid communication stream creates a professional relationship founded on mutual trust, respect, and straightforwardness. Taking the initiative with transparent dialogue also sends the message that you’re serious about improving your performance and growing in your career.

3. Problem-solving

When issues arise, make sure you’re not just stating the problem. Think of solutions and share them with your manager. Much like transparency, problem-solving creates trust and signals to your manager that you’re thinking ahead and being proactive about navigating challenges.

You may not have all the answers, but your manager will recognize your strategic and collaborative approach to conflict.

4. Feedback

Difficult conversations are difficult for everybody involved, including your manager. But when you ask  for feedback, whether you believe there is an issue or not, your manager will likely respect your proactive approach to growth and development. It also will help ensure you know where you stand, especially if you have a manager who isn’t always forthcoming with feedback.

During the process, you may be met with some constructive criticism, but don’t immediately resist it. Take some time to reflect on the feedback to determine if it’s valid or not, and if it is, leverage that feedback to find new ways to improve. The better you understand your opportunities for development, the better you can focus on achieving more out of your career.

Simply waiting for a promotion, networking opportunity, or evaluation to happen to you can ultimately set you back. Being proactive about your advancement puts you in the driver’s seat to envision and accomplish the career goals that are most important to you.

What step will you take to better your relationship to your manager and enhance your career? Share in the comments!