The perfect boss is a mind reader. They know how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking at any given time, and so they adjust how they treat you and what they assign you accordingly.
You’d probably agree with that statement, right?
But the reality is that managers don’t have this superpower—no one does.
However, communicating more clearly —the real-life fix to not working with mind readers— is something you can do in your office.
This is what we call “managing up.” And if that term scares you or seems impossible in your situation, we’ve discovered the best method to try it out.
In a recent article, Quartz writer Khe Hy talks about how his boss’ vague communication stressed him out on a daily basis. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands—with one simple email:
Every Friday afternoon, I’d send my boss a short email with three categories:
· The work I had completed that week
· What I was working on, including any deadlines that may have shifted or obstacles I’d encountered
· What I was waiting on—that is, tasks that I’d completed, but require sign-off from my boss or contributions from someone else
Rather than wait for his manager to guess what he needed from them, he proactively put all that information in front of them so they could easily get back to him with a response, sign-off, or edit. It also ensured his boss was well aware of where he stood in meeting deadlines.
But most importantly, this short email inadvertently tells his boss how he’s getting along mentally and emotionally—for example, if he communicates the same obstacles every week, it opens the door for a deeper discussion about shifting strategies or extending deadlines that’ll relieve some of that stress.
The real kicker? Writing it up only takes Hy 15 minutes (and probably takes his manager less time to read).
Sending this kind of message may seem redundant, but it’s a great way to keep your boss up-to-speed on what you’re working on so that they can manage you effectively—and encourages them to be open with you on what they’re working on, too. Even better, highlighting your accomplishments is the first step toward proving you’re worthy of a raise or promotion down the road.
Even if an email isn’t the right strategy for your team, one thing you can take away from this is the importance of communicating with the people you work with. So often our frustrations stem from assuming someone knows something they don’t—which is why it never hurts to reach out to a team member when you could use a hand (rather than hope they’ll notice you’re struggling and offer to help out), or update them if you’re running behind (so they know when to expect a final product), or simply ask if communicating differently (such as emailing weekly progress reports rather than meeting every Monday) might be more effective.
If you make communicating (like really communicating) a part of your routine, you’ll find that hoping your co-workers become mind readers won’t be so high on your wish list.