Week 2: Communicating With Your Manager

MOOC - University of California, Irvine - Communication in the 21st Century Workplace

Week 2: Communicating With Your Manager

“Communicating With Your Manager…Interview with Starbucks HQ Manager…Delivering Bad News…Communicating Change Effectively…”


  • 2.1 Communicating With Your Manager
  • 2.2 Interview with Starbucks HQ Manager
  • 2.3 Delivering Bad News
  • 2.4 Communicating Change Effectively

2.1 Communicating With Your Manager

  • Do you have a boss? How effectively do you communicate with him or her? In today’s session, we’re going to discuss some ways to communicate effectively with your manager.
  • Take just a moment to think about your manager through the lens of communication.
  • Do you know how they like to communicate? What have you observed in their verbal and non-verbal communication? Do they communicate internally and externally? Are they engaged in virtual communication? Whether you know a little or a lot about how your manager likes to communicate there are some communication preferences that tend to run across most managers.
  • Before we explore those, let’s start by understanding your manager’s role.
  • Take a minute to consider your manager’s role, what is their official job? Is it fast-paced, or moderate? Are they in a lot of meetings, or do they spend more time with individuals, or with their teams? Do they have a small or large team? Do they have multiple demands placed on them, or can they work based on their own priorities? I’ve asked you all these questions because understanding your manager’s role will help you communicate more effectively with him or her.
  • I told you I’d share communication preferences that most managers tend to appreciate.
  • When communicating with your manager, demonstrate your awareness of what he may be going through and adapt your approach.
  • If you plan to have a verbal conversation about one key project at your meeting with your manager and instead you discover he or she needs your help with something urgently, switch gears, confirm how they would like it delivered.
  • Since managers wear a lot of hats, putting your key message up front will incurs, increase the likelihood of it being fully received.
  • One additional thing I suggest you work on recognizing is whether your manager’s non-verbal communication is indicative of his or her intended communication.
  • Since managers often move quickly from meeting to meeting and project to project they may not be aware of how they’re displaying themselves non-verbally.
  • You can engage in a respectful delivery of bad news which your manager is likely to appreciate over the long term.
  • Have you ever needed your manager to see your perspective for just a moment because you knew if they heard you out they would concur with your recommendation? If you’re trying to persuade your manager using verbal communication, up the ante on your communication approach.

2.2 Interview with Starbucks HQ Manager

  • I work with a really diverse group of leaders up through the executive level.
  • Well we’re really looking forward to hearing some of your insights today, and since you do lead a team, if you’d be willing to share some of your own preferences around communication at the end of our session today.
  • One of the things we’ve been touching on is understanding your manager’s communication preferences to really ensure that your message is heard.
  • In your experience what communication approaches or techniques do the managers you work with tend to appreciate the most from their employee? The managers that I work with as are all managers, are extremely busy.
  • Being aware of that is also really important.
  • Do you find that the managers’ preferences differ, based on whether employees are having in person communication with their managers or virtual communication? Well, I think the fundamentals are the same, whether you’re communicating in-person or virtually.
  • So choosing a really appropriate location to be having the communication interaction, and so that might not be whilst you’re standing in line at the store.
  • So have I provided you with enough information? Do you have additional questions? That can be really effective also.
  • Can you tell us a little bit about what nonverbal subtleties or nuances employees might be able to pick up from their manager to help provide them with some clues about how to either or respond to manager communication or initiate communication with them.
  • The other thing to be aware of is eye contact, so I think eye contact is a really good indication if your manager is engaged with you in the conversation.
  • Can you offer any tips or suggestions around how employees can most effectively communicate when they are needing to persuade their manager or perhaps when they need to deliver bad news? Sure, so I think the persuasion in addition to the things that we’ve already discussed being aware of how you manage and make decisions can be a really useful data point.
  • So do they like a lot facts and data? Or do maybe people implications weight more heavily for them? That can really help you to decide if you’re having a communication, what do you lead with? Do you lead with maybe the cost savings of the project that you’re recommending? Well maybe you should lead with the implications or benefits to employee morale.
  • For bad news, I think that really, just get straight to the point.
  • I think it’s really important when sharing bad news to take accountability and not to look to pass blame to others.
  • You’ve offered some really practical tips that I think we can take away and apply really nicely with the module and some of the things we’ve been talking about.
  • It while managers really vary in their preferences it would be useful to also hear about your own perspective.
  • For me there’s really one key thing that I really appreciate and I find very effective when my employees are, are communicating with me.
  • That’s really about being very intentional and sharing up from what purpose of the communication.
  • So framing that up really helps me to be able to listen really effectively and then to be able to provide the most helpful and appropriate response.
  • While managers do have a wide range in their preferences hearing that one data point is really useful in the context of everything else that we’ve discussed.
  • Angela, thanks so much for making time to talk with us today, I really appreciate your insights and information.

2.3 Delivering Bad News

  • Most of us do not enjoy delivering bad news to our colleagues, our leaders, or our team members.
  • Delivering bad news is certainly a moment where you are under pressure and how you deliver the news makes all the difference in the world.
  • How about a quick reminder of the five steps you can take to help make the delivery of this news go much more smoothly.
  • It’s likely that you’re feeling anxious and stressed over delivering bad news.
  • Do not rush over to the person or persons and blurt out the news.
  • You want to be able to calmly and clearly share the news.
  • You might even practice how you will deliver the bad news.
  • Take some time and consider what the news means to your audience.
  • If your news is that a star team member is leaving consider looking up some potential canvas for the position.
  • You want to deliver the news in a timely fashion, but this does not mean you overlook preparation.
  • Select a location that is appropriate, for example the middle of the break room is not the best location to share difficult news.
  • This means try to deliver the news during normal working hours, and not right before lunch, or right as they need to leave for their carpool, or to pick up a child from daycare.
  • Email and text are not the best way to deliver difficult news.
  • I can see where this news is very upsetting for you.
  • If you had a part in the situation that led to the bad news, you need to take responsibility for your actions.
  • If there is some element of the news that could be interpreted as positive then point it out.
  • Now let’s see how prepared you are to deliver difficult news using our five step process.
  • You can deliver bad news, and build working relationships.

2.4 Communicating Change Effectively

  • That means that Mark and Jason are no longer going to be working together.
  • Now Mark needs to share his news with Jason, and he will miss working with Jason.
  • He knows Jason is going to be happy for him, but also a little apprehensive about having to work for somebody different.
  • Before he knows it though, the work day has ended and Mark really wanted to let Jason know about this new position as soon as possible.
  • On the way out of the door Mark sees Jason still at his desk and he approaches Jason and he says Jason I’m so glad you’re still here.
  • The truth is that change is difficult for most of us and Mark really didn’t know that this would be as difficult a transition for Jason.
  • It would have been very helpful if Mark had planned this discussion with Jason and if he had approached him using better timing and better setting.
  • He also could have conveyed how much he appreciated Jason, while explaining to him why this promotion was important for him.
  • After Jason recovered from the shock of Mark’s announcement, he became anxious.
  • Jason also became angry with Mark for treating him as if he was insignificant.
  • Jason worked hard for Mark, and he felt that he deserved better than a quick, I’m leaving, as he ran out the door.
  • When Jason got home he started to text Mark, so what about my position? What does this mean for me? Actually, Jason sent Mark several texts throughout the evening.
  • Then the next morning, Jason’s waiting in the parking lot for Mark.
  • Who will be my new boss? Can I put in for the position? Can I transfer with you? Will my role by changing? What will happen? Mark held up his hand and just for acknowledgement and said, Jason, I’m sorry, I can see that I have upset you.
  • At the end of lunch, Jason felt so much better about the change.
  • Now let’s pause here for a moment in the story and consider Jason’s response to Mark.
  • Mark did not do a very great job in communicating the change to Jason.
  • Jason could really use some help with his communication too.
  • Jason definitely came off as needy and self absorbed.
  • It would’ve been nice if Jason had started off by offering Mark congratulations and learning about the new position.
  • Jason also really missed an important opportunity to ask about how he could have helped with this transition.
  • Now Jason knew that change would be difficult, but Lisa was driving him crazy.
  • Even though Jason sat right outside of her office door, she would still text him.
  • The problem here was that Jason frequently picked his son up from daycare.
  • Jason decided that he wanted to call Mark up and just ask him for some advice.
  • Mark listened patiently about his concerns and he said what have you and Lisa talked about this? What have you decided about your position? What has she shared with you in terms of her expectations? And at first Jason didn’t really know how to respond and then he says well.
  • Well, Mark said, it sounds like you need to talk to Lisa and have a really good conversation.
  • Jason begins to realize that, of course Mark is right and Jason understands that he does really need to tell, to be flexible.
  • After Jason hangs up the phone he sends Lisa a text and asks her if they can spend some time later that day, or perhaps the next day to compare notes on roles and responsibilities and expectations.
  • Jason starts the meeting by letting Lisa speak first, lets her talk about her plans for the group, and then asks about her expectations for him.
  • So she tells Jason that she didn’t mean to make him feel like he had to work on Sundays and to be intrusive.
  • Well, because Jason was willing to have this open, honest discussion with Lisa, they are able to move forward together and build a strong professional relationship.

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