Throughout my professional career in publishing, I have had to work with several supervisors with their own “managing styles”. Below are a few types of managers to beware of, complete with some tips on how to communicate with them.
- Me, Myself, and I
This is the manager who takes credit for everything that goes right, and finds a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong. I have literally witnessed a manager do a small task, and follow it with a rant of “Why do I have to do everything? What would happen to this company if I didn’t follow up with everything? I can’t do it all by myself!” I find that to be somewhat of an overreaction when all he/she did was figure out how to make color copies.
How to communicate: Like a toddler, all this type of manager needs is a little positive reinforcement. Try soothing them with a “Wow, great job!” or “Glad you were there to step in” and he/she will wind down for a nap soon enough.
- “In the beginning…”
This is the manager who tends to overexplain EVERYTHING. When you go to them with a yes or no question, you usually receive a soliloquy as a response. For example:
Question: “Should I put a comma here?”
Response: “Well you see, like most punctuation, the comma originated in Ancient Greece. However, today’s modern comma can be credited to the Italian printer Aldus Manutius. In the late 1400s…”
Ahhhhhh! Just tell me where to put it! Yes, it’s good to have background information on certain topics, but I shouldn’t have to block off 30 minutes of my day just to ask a quick question.
How to communicate: It’s better to send an email so you can sift through the response and pick out what you need. Or ask them in passing. Don’t sit down in their office to discuss it, it’s a trap!
We’ve all had one of these. This is the manager who will give you a task to do and constantly interrupt you doing the task in order to ask how far along you are in completing the task. I even once had a manager that would give me an assignment, and literally STAND over my shoulder as I was doing it. When I finally would turn to look at her she would say that she just wanted to make sure I knew what to do. Who can work like that? It’s fine to check in, but if you don’t trust me to complete the assignment, give it to someone else. It’s especially frustrating when you know that it was given to you because THEY don’t know how to do it themselves.
How to communicate: Tell them how much time you need to complete the task and let them know you’ll check in soon. That way you’re dismissing them without having to yell “Back off!”
- Pace and Panic
This is the manager who overreacts to any little problem. If an assignment is late, the average manager would most likely look at the schedule, and rearrange some tasks to keep things on track. But I’ve had a manager who would literally pace back and forth, then go around to anyone who would listen to tell them what a catastrophe they have to handle. The problem could have been solved by the time they’ve put on a show for everyone. It’s especially annoying when this manager calls a meeting to solve the microscopic issue.
How to communicate: It’s always better if the issue can be solved before it gets to them. But if you must consult them immediately, at least come with a plan to solve the problem. If they have options to focus on, they’ll be less likely to take their panic on a tour around the office.
What other types of managers have you had to deal with in YOUR office? Drop a comment below.
– R. Alexandria