Managing Your Manager: Defining Outstanding Work

Published in Business, Home Page

Most managers have no trouble defining unsatisfactory work as missing deadlines, making errors, or having a poor attitude. They may even be able to describe acceptable work as meeting timelines, adhering to quality metrics, and observing cost constraints. However, many managers fail to articulate what exceptional behavior entails. Adjectives such as significant, exemplary, and better tend to be subjective and open to interpretation. Here’s how to avoid confusion and get that promotion you’ve been seeking.

Discuss Definitions

The website provides free examples of completed reviews so you can see industry-leading samples of real reviews based on common competencies. If your manager can’t articulate the difference between unsatisfactory, marginal, effective, highly effective, and outstanding, you need to push the issue. Tactfully state the benefits of clearly defining requirements.

Clarify Delegated Tasks

An effective manager clearly articulates requests. However, chaotic schedules and other demands may preclude effective delegation. Don’t wait for clarification. Ask open-ended questions to stimulate dialog so that you truly understand required outcomes and results, since only then can you execute with ease. Don’t expect to be told how to do your work once you’ve been trained; that’s your job.

Request Mentoring and Coaching

If your manager fails to list precise requirements but then tries to micromanage your work, suggest that you’d like a job shadow experience. Observing your manager complete tasks helps you understand the measurement protocols. If the work to be completed is out of the manager’s area of expertise, ask for a different person to follow. Once you know what’s needed, ask for coaching from your manager, to prod you when need a push to get to the next level.

Get Feedback

Build your case for producing exceptional work by asking for a review from not only superiors but also subordinates, peers, and other business partners. The website provides access to free assessments that allow you to collect and interpret feedback from different people. Use this information to create a career development plan that reflects your interests and strengths.

Some managers, particularly those new to their leadership role, lack effective delegation skills. If your manager fails to adequately define ratings for your work, you need to ask for clarification. Confusion typically results in unnecessary work and misguided actions that may lead to bad business outcomes. Don’t wait until your formal performance review to sort out these issues. Get to know your strengths and promote them so you can work with your manager to define greatness and then achieve it.

Ray Mancini