Take It or Leave It: How to Adapt to Differing Managerial Styles

michael scottBy Joe Pisicolo 

Whether conscious or not, managers employ individual and unique styles in their supervising of their direct reports. As an intern, entry-level employee or even a company VP, you will in almost all cases be reporting to a manager above you. Because your direct manager is often the one most responsible for your work evaluation, it is befitting to behave in a manner that accords with your supervisor’s preferences. As many supervisors are tactically different in their work styles and hence their expectations of their reports, it would behoove one to build competence around the efficient diagnosis and delivery of these expected behaviors.

In other words, acclimating quickly to the managerial style of your supervisor will benefit you with regard to career development. Especially in the world today where millennials seem to be hopping from company to company seamlessly in pursuit of various jobs and internships, it is important to be able to make a good impression on those around you as fast as possible.

I’ve had a few internships at this point in my career and it seems as if each of my supervisors has been drastically different. Some of these supervisors were meticulous about particular details while others were big picture-oriented. Some set loose deadlines while others expected work done 30 minutes before the set deadlines. Some micro-managed while others provided space for creativity and autonomy. And finally, some of these supervisors expected daily checkpoints while others did not mind going a few days without you checking in.

Of course, each managerial situation differs based on variables that include the nature of the job, work, etc., but it does not change the fact that learning the do’s and don’t’s of your supervisors quickly will lead to you being perceived more favorably faster. My genuine advice is to set up a meeting with your supervisor to address questions regarding expectations as soon as possible. As an employee in a new role, it is perfectly reasonable to demand a small amount of time from those around you in order to learn more about one another’s roles, preferences, and your relationship to both. There’s no reason for you to be in the dark about your supervisor’s managerial style and preferences until the point in which you make an avoidable mistake.

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