Kool Derby

Over the past couple of decades, I’ve had plenty of managers, some great and some so-so. A mentor once told me that I should focus mostly on meeting the expectations of my manager. When my direct gives me an assignment, I need to ensure these requirements are done on time, within budget, and at a high-quality level. In other words, exceeding expectations matters.

How do you know that your manager likes you? What are the signs that you are on the right track? Is it okay to ask if you are on the same page? How do you handle the situation in which you feel there is a disconnect with your manager?

1: Your Opinion Matters

One sure-sign that your manager likes and respects you is when she asks for your opinion. For example, you are getting ready to launch a project, and your manager asks you who should be on the team. You might also be asked to become the project manager. You are given extra responsibility, and the manager is confident you will be accountable for the work.

You often find these people sitting in the manager’s office, day-after-day. In some cases, the meetings include lunch and even an after-work drink. In essence, the manager is looking for someone to provide honest feedback, and she respects this person’s opinion.

#2: You Receive High-Value Assignments

One notable advantage of being liked by your manager is that you are first to hear of excellent work assignments. These opportunities are not promotions per se; instead, these projects will usually place you in front of the VIPs of your company. The pressure will be on to ensure you do well, but your manager will make sure you have the right people and resources to excel.

When working in a Fortune 500 company, I was assigned as a key team member for an enterprise-wide project. My manager knew I had the technical skills to do the work, and he asked if I wanted to participate. He knew this project would allow me to interact with many influential people in the organization. It was a terrific opportunity that exposed me to many vital business functions, and eventually led to other career opportunities.

#3: Your Incompetence is ignored

In a previous job, I recall an employee (Martina) who was mediocre at best. In fact, she spent most of her time on Facebook and texting with friends. When Martina wasn’t killing time on the computer, she was on-break or out-to-lunch. In fact, a previous manager threatened to fire her because her performance was far below expectations.
Enter the new manager, Jack. Martina went from nearly getting the pink slip to receiving a promotion. She convinced Jack to transfer her to a low-profile position in which she could operate under the radar. In other words, the metrics to measure her performance were now intangible, which meant she could survive, and even thrive, in this new position.

If you find that your manager is not too high on you, it’s important to determine the problem. You have to take the initiative. The best approach is to ask for more responsibility. You are interested in opportunities in which you are accountable for a critical business function.

Most managers respect someone who is bold and willing to improve the organization. Once you are given the assignment, you must hit a home run. By exceeding expectations, you will become a favorite of your manager.