Three Communication Landmines to Avoid With Your Manager

Last Updated Mar 16, 2010 9:01 AM EDT

Communicate better with your managerThere are generally two broad ways you can mess up your relationship with your manager -- do your work badly or communicate badly. Every reader has a different job so most blogs probably can't help you with the specifics of moving product or producing your next report, but Scot Herrick's office advice blog Cube Rules can help with the communication part of the equation.

In a recent post Herrick offers several easily avoidable communication blunders that could be undermining you at the office. Doing stellar work isn't enough; you also need to steer clear of these three communication landmines.

  • Explaining your entire thought process without a decision request -- Remember the writing rule that says the first sentence of your paragraph should explain what is coming in the rest of the paragraph? Same situation here. Managers are used to making decisions, so tell your manager up front what you are requesting. Once you say what you are expecting, you can then go through the reasons why and your supervisor will know where you are headed. The longer it takes for you to put out your request, the more your supervisor will try and figure out what you want instead of listening to what you are saying.
  • Fail to prototype your work -- Ever had your supervisor give you a small project with a due date out a couple of weeks? We all have. But how many times have you taken that project, thought you understood the deliverable, then presented your work on the due date and were told it was all wrong? It happens all the time.... When you get a project like this, take one point and follow it through to the end. Then, after completing this in a couple of days -- about 5-10 percent of the total project, show your work to your manager. Now you will discover all the hidden requirements your manager assumed you knew when you said yes to the project.
  • Providing activities in status reports instead of accomplishments -- In bigger corporations, status reports are common. Most managers don't tell you what they want in them or, if they do, they focus on activities, not accomplishments. Don't fall for this trap. Your accomplishments are your results that can get included in your performance review. Or your resume. Your accomplishments become the stories you tell your hiring manager for your next gig. Even if your manager wants to know that you attended twenty meetings last week (which should tell you a lot about the type of manager you have--), put in the twenty meetings but also include what you accomplished as a result of the meetings.
(Image of landmine sign by ANZ Cluster Munition Coalition, CC 2.0)
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.