« All Episodes

Better Report, Better Manager - Investing in a Healthier Manager-to-Report Relationship

Published 3/14/2022

What should I look for in a healthy relationship with my manager? In this episode we talk about a variety of signals that you can expect if you have the right kind of relationship with your manager.

🙏 Today's Episode is Brought To you by: Square

Square has APIs for almost every aspect of running a business from employee management, to order creation and tracking, to inventory synchronization. Square’s APIs also integrate with software business owners already use like tax and bookings. so business owners can have an integrated software stack that empowers them to achieve their goals. To get started building remarkable business applications, visit https://developertea.com/square to learn more and create an account.

📮 Ask a Question

If you enjoyed this episode and would like me to discuss a question that you have on the show, drop it over at: developertea.com.

📮 Join the Discord

If you want to be a part of a supportive community of engineers (non-engineers welcome!) working to improve their lives and careers, join us on the Developer Tea Discord community by visiting https://developertea.com/discord today!

🧡 Leave a Review

If you're enjoying the show and want to support the content head over to iTunes and leave a review! It helps other developers discover the show and keep us focused on what matters to you.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
What does it look like to have a good relationship with your manager? We're going to talk about some of the things that you should be looking for in that relationship. In today's episode, my name is Jonathan Cutrell listening to Developer Tea. My goal on the show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. This is the second part of our Better Report Better Manager series. The goal of this series is to help you improve one of the most critical relationships that you're going to have in your career, the one that you have with your manager. And this is probably applicable to virtually everyone listening to this episode who works at a company you likely have, someone who is a manager of yours, somebody that you report to, they may not have the title manager, but they are your boss to some degree. And I want to destigmatize some of those feelings that people tend to have when they hear the word boss or when they hear the word manager, because the truth is that the healthiest report to manager relationships, they are working to, actions that we have that kind of turn us away from the concept of boss. And at some point in your career, you probably will feel these things, these negative sentiments towards your boss, towards your manager. The feeling of anxiety whenever you have to talk to them or maybe a feeling of frustration or resentment whenever you have to listen to them talking, maybe you feel impatient in meetings with them or you feel that they're incompetent or somehow they're not keeping up on their end of the deal. Maybe you feel like they are out of touch with what's happening on the team or perhaps you might feel like they're too in touch. Maybe they're micromanaging you too much and you'd like them to step off a little bit. Or maybe there's something as simple as a personality class. You don't like their style of communication, even if you feel like they're doing a good job at their primary responsibilities, you just kind of get rubbed the wrong way with them. All of these things are normal, although they're probably not healthy in a report to manager relationship. So I want to talk about what a healthy relationship looks like, but also how to foster that healthy relationship. What are the signs that you can look for and the things that kind of simple practices that you can undertake to foster a healthier relationship with your manager? So let's talk about some of the signals that you can look for and you may not have all of them, but you should have some of these most likely with a good manager to report relationship. The first signal is that you have a regular cadence of communication. For most manager report relationships, this means a weekly or maybe a biweekly one-on-one depending on the level of interaction that you have with your manager and also depending on what other kinds of leadership you have on the team. For example, if you have a tech leader on the team, they may take over some of that direct interaction responsibility on a weekly basis, maybe to talk about more technical things and your manager in that scenario, maybe taking on the role of kind of people manager only, talking about your kind of feelings and your progression and anything else related to your employment, the relationships that you have between you and the other team members, anything that is not directly technical in nature. For that reason, you might see a little bit of a lower frequency, but ultimately a regular frequency, this is a recurring meeting that your manager and you both make time for. We will do another episode on the topic of one-on-ones and what kinds of things a healthy and productive one-on-one may have. One example of a good one-on-one kind of discussion might be what we talked about in the last episode, the three questions that you need to ask your manager, those calibration questions. If you didn't listen to that episode and you should go back and listen to it, another thing that you need to be on the lookout for and staying aware of is making sure you feel comfortable asking those kinds of questions, the kinds of questions that we went over in the last episode that is. Comfortable to ask questions that are difficult to answer, questions about what are the team goals, what are your intentions for me, what are your intentions for my role, how do you see me growing, these kinds of questions, as we're talking about this happening in a one-on-one, these are the kinds of things that you should feel comfortable and not only comfortable, but you should feel driven to ask your manager these questions. That is a sign that your manager is acting as the resource that they're supposed to be acting as your manager. Another sign of a healthy relationship between you and your managers that they are taking the time to be proactive about your position and your role on the team. Whether that's preparing a discussion topic for you to talk about in your one-on-ones about your recent involvement with the team, maybe going through the process of lining you up for particular kinds of work within the team or maybe a promotion within the company, these kinds of investments are a signal that your manager cares. On the flip side, another kind of investment that may be less comfortable but is still a sign of a healthy relationship is critical feedback. Your manager's only job is not to put you up for promotion and to make you look like the best developer in the world. Their job is actually to help you improve and become a better developer. Become a better coworker. Become a better collaborator. In order to do that, they may need to share some criticism from their perspective. We'll talk more about criticism in that episode in the future about one-on-ones and the kinds of conversations that you should have in those one-on-ones. Criticism is a key factor in having a productive relationship with your manager. We're going to talk about some of the practical ways that you can foster this healthy relationship with your manager. We'd have to talk about today's sponsor. Developer Tea is supported by Square. There are millions of sellers across the globe using Square to run every aspect of their business. Many are looking for customized solutions that are deeply connected and easy to use. And you as a developer, you can build those customized solutions and grow your business in the process. You can extend or integrate with Square using free APIs and SDKs to build tools for sellers. Learn more by going to developertea.com slash square. That's developertea.com slash square. Thanks again to Square for their support of Developer Tea. In today's episode, we're talking about kind of doing a health check on your relationship with your manager. Some of the things that you'll experience, the feelings that you'll experience towards your manager are, even if they are negative, they may be very normal. And you will go through ups and downs in that relationship, just like any other relationship. Your and report relationships tend to get fairly close. The manager knows a lot more details about your work journey, usually then maybe some of your co-workers know. They might know privileged information. They have personal information on your growth areas. They may be going to bat for you and sticking their neck out on your behalf at times. And they also have to be able to deliver difficult news to you. They're there whenever you're celebrating and they get to give you the good news of a promotion or a raise, but they also have to deliver the hard news of criticism or maybe the news that you didn't get that promotion or that raise. So because of that closeness and the inherent vulnerability that's a part of the manager and report relationship, you're very likely to experience that whole range of emotions. And it's important to recognize that healthy relationships are not just all good all the time. In fact, you may be seeing a sign of a bad relationship if it feels all good all the time. You might not be getting the feedback that you do need to get. And so it makes sense to employ some kind of consistent and recurring practices that act as kind of automatic investment into this relationship. The first practice is one that we've already hinted at at the beginning, the regular one-on-one cadence or a similar cadence that provides you with the regular window to connect with the your manager. There is no relationship if there is no communication. So having a regular check-in point with your manager is critical. It's really up to you as the report to make sure that this stays consistent. Your manager may have times when they need to reschedule just like you will, but when you need to reschedule, make sure that you actually do. If there is a way to always keep the recurring meeting available on your calendar system of choice, then that's a good way to hold the spot to have this kind of mental reminder that the one-on-one needs to happen this week or within the next week or two. Be careful of canceling your one-on-ones because you don't have anything new to talk about. We'll discuss more about this particular kind of cancellation when we do the deeper dive on what a good one-on-one looks like and doesn't look like in a future episode in this series, but make sure that even when it feels like it's not necessary, you're still making this investment. The next investment that you need to make as a report is to understand the human side of your manager. It's very easy to allow our managers to become a symbol of the company that we work for. While in some ways this provides you some kind of cold clarity when making decisions about your career, it also sacrifices some of the important connection points that you otherwise could be making with your manager. Investing in this relationship in this way will also help you have a better vision of what your managers trying to communicate when they do have difficult feedback for you. Because with everything in this episode, I'm going to ask you to use judgment here. You don't need to become your manager's best friend in order for this part to work, but it will help you to build empathy for your manager if you understand a little bit more about who they are as a person outside of work. Also, they're kind of personal approach to work itself. This is an extension off of our last episode in some ways. The calibration discussion, which is pointed mostly at our professional lives, but understanding your manager's motivations that go beyond whatever their goals are for you or for the team. What are their personal goals? What are the things that they care about deeply? If you can at least understand what those things are, that will help you gain empathy and a closer understanding of them as a human being. We've got one more investment that you need to make, and this is an investment not only in your relationship with your manager, but also in your career. When your manager does provide you any kind of feedback, whether that's passive or active, in other words, if they're providing you some kind of assertion about the work that's being done, or if they're giving you direct feedback or some kind of directive that there's something that they want for you to do, it will benefit you to do two things. First, take clear action on what they've asked you to do, and second, communicate that you have taken that action in response to what they've asked you to do. Here's why this is an important investment. When your manager asks you to do something, often it's unclear whether that translation has happened. The manager may feel that it's important for you to act on something, but they may not know how to motivate you to take that action. If you actually go out of your way to take the action that your manager is suggesting, and you call it out to your manager, they have a clear one-to-one connection between the advice that they've provided and the actions that you're taking. This gives the manager a high level of confidence that you're actually listening to them. This may seem like a given, but as it turns out, it's one of the most critical missing points to create a healthy manager-report relationship. Oftentimes, there is a missed connection between whatever the manager is saying, whatever the report is hearing, and the resulting action. As it turns out, it's just as important for the manager to do the same when they receive feedback from their direct report and managers listen up if you're hearing this. When you receive feedback from your direct report, it generates a significant amount of confidence if you actually act on what your report is telling you. I almost feel silly saying this, but it is a revolutionary concept that you're actually doing something about what the other person is saying. Again, this seems obvious, but as it turns out, that feedback loop of saying, I'm doing this because I heard what you said to me. This is such a critical turning point in so many professional relationships and also personal relationships for what it's worth. This comes from some relationship psychology that's outside of work. It just so happens to work also in the professional context when you receive some kind of feedback or direction. Do something about it and then explain that you're doing something about it. These investments will go such a long way to improve the relationship that you have with your manager. In future episodes, we'll dig a little bit deeper on specific practices that you have with your manager like the one-on-one, as well as the different kinds of roles that your manager will play based on where you are in your career or what your motivations are, the kinds of opportunities that you're looking at, the kinds of problems that you're solving. How does your manager's role change with relation to you in those situations? We're going to talk about that in upcoming episodes in this series. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode. Thank you again to Square for sponsoring today's episode. Head over to developer.com slash square to get started with our SDKs and APIs. Today, building tools for sellers. Thanks so much for listening to Developer Tea. If you have a question, specifically if you have a question about what it will take to become a better report. I'd love to hear it from you. A great way to ask these questions is actually to go and join the Developer Tea discord head over to developertea.com. If you have questions about it, and love to hear them, once again, developertea.com slash discord Developer Tea at gmail.com at Developer Tea on Twitter. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. I'm going to talk about the first thing that I want to do is to talk about the first discord Developer Tea at gmail.com at Developer Tea on Twitter.