Wrong communication with your managers can slow your career down. Even if you are a good performer. Follow the key communication rules to improve the relationship with your managers.

What communication with managers etiquette is

Communication with managers etiquette is the set of rules to appropriately and effectively engage and communicate with your managers. Such rules include:

  • The key communication principles.
  • How to build trust with your managers.
  • The mistakes to avoid.

As an employee, you should respect communication with managers etiquette to look professional, appropriately engage your managers, and avoid any issues.

As a manager or employer, promote communication with managers etiquette in your team to ensure effective and constructive communication.

Boss communication. How to communicate with your manager. The top rules and tips.

Communication with managers etiquette rules

1) Be dependable and predictable

A predictable employee is easy to manage and trustworthy. Managers prefer predictable employees. 

Always communicate with your managers in the same tone. Use the same channels of communication. Stick to a daily work routine. 

Do what you say you will do. Once you commit to anything, follow through. If anything changes, communicate it to your managers. Give an early warning about any issue that may arise. Avoid any surprises to your managers.

Speed is a factor. The faster you respond to your managers, the higher the trust you build with them.

2) Communication should not antagonize your managers

To be part of a team, we must respect its hierarchy. Thus, all employees should respect their manager’s role. 

Managers have the duty and prerogative of making decisions. Allow your managers to make decisions and have the last word. 

Do not antagonize your managers. Use positive verbal language and neutral body language. Avoid negative words, sentences, or remarks. Avoid starting a sentence with a “no”. Do not interrupt your managers when they talk. Pay attention. Listen more than you talk. Never use a sarcastic or ironic tone of voice.

3) Disagree and commit

Employees must help their managers make better decisions. It is one of their duties. 

Thus, you can challenge your manager’s opinions and decisions. However, do your best to be polite. If possible, do not make direct and assertive statements. Instead, express your doubts in the form of a question. 

If you disagree with a decision, state it. State why you disagree. Bring data or factual evidence to support your opinion. However, once a decision is taken, commit to it. 

4) Keep communication with your managers frequent and concise

Managers want to feel in control. Thus, they tend to prefer frequent updates. 

However, because of their role, managers are often in a condition of information overload. Thus, they have a limited attention span. 

Communicate with your managers with frequent, concise messages. Follow a routine to update your managers. Use the same communication channels. Use the same format for emails, charts, and documents. Follow the key business writing rules.

5) Be prepared 

Prepare before you communicate with your managers. 

Get all the data and facts. Anticipate the questions that your managers might have. Prepare the answers. If you raise a problem, you should present some potential solutions too. Think about 1 or 2 ways to solve the problem. This way, your manager can choose the best one or suggest another. 

Never present issues without potential solutions. Do your homework.

6) Adapt your communication to the context 

Your managers’ expectations depend on the context. Thus, it is best to adapt your communication style to meet such expectations. 

Are you in a 1-to-1 session with your manager? Or in a meeting with other people? Be more conservative when you and your managers are meeting with clients, vendors, or colleagues from other teams.

7) Manage escalations the smart way

An escalation is when an employee needs to align with a manager before making a decision. Escalations are a normal and effective management tool.

Know when to escalate to your managers. Which decisions can you take on your own? Which ones are beyond your mandate? When it is appropriate to involve your managers? Understand the boundaries of your role. Ask your managers when you should involve them and which decisions you can take autonomously. 

Never go over your manager. If you need to involve other managers, align with your manager first.

8) Communication with managers is an art: observe and adjust

In communication, one size does not fit all. Reflect on your past interactions with your managers. What went well? What went wrong? Identify the key factors that made your communication effective. 

Similarly, you should observe your other team members. The way they communicate with their managers and manage their style or tone. Then, gradually adjust your style and mirror the best practices.

communication with managers etiquette mistakes

Communication with managers etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst communication with managers etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Disrespecting the hierarchy.
  • 9/10. Antagonizing your managers.
  • 9/10. Speaking more than you listen.
  • 8/10. Speaking in an inappropriate tone.
  • 7/10. Not adapting your communication style to the situation.
  • 7/10. Not paying exclusive attention when your manager speaks.