Jan 242013

How to Wow Your Manager

How to Wow Your Manager

Last week, I talked about how to Wow your employees.  Now I am going to discuss the converse of that – How to Wow your Manager.  Why Wow your manager?  Even if you are senior leader in an organization, the Wow factor is still important.

What impact does a Wow have?  It sends the signal that you are on top of things.  Symbolism is important.  It also advances the cause further and faster.  Why do you want to foster Wow moments with your team?  High performing teams have a lot of Wow going on.  If all members of a team see Wow regularly, they are all inspired to do more sooner, better.

Here are my top 10 examples on how to WOW your manager, along with the intended impact:

  1. Show up for every check-in with the full agenda – send it a day or more ahead (Give your manager time and space to prepare)
  2.  When you are asking your manager to communicate something (an email to the team, a reference letter, etc.), draft it for him or her (Editing is much easier than creating)
  3.  Do a start-stop-continue analysis once a year on all of your key activities (Make yourself as efficient and effective as possible – that’s your responsibility as much as your manager’s)
  4.  Own your own development plan and check in on it at least quarterly (Those who own their own career paths progress more quickly down them)
  5. Read a relevant business book and ask your manager to discuss insights with you (Staying current with best practices in your field – books, articles, blog posts, videos, mentors, lectures –  is key in a learning organization)
  6.  Dress for success – even casual can be neat and “client ready” (Your presence has an impact on those around you.  There’s no reason anyone should ever have to comment on your clothes, your hair, or any aspect of your personal hygiene)
  7. Respond to every email where you are on the TO line within a day, even if it’s to say you will respond longer form later (At Return Path,  you have to be in the jet stream of communications. Otherwise, you find yourself in the exhaust of the jet stream)
  8. End every meaningful interaction by asking for informal feedback on how you’re doing and what else you can be doing (Again, part of being in a learning organization…and taking more tasks on is always a sign that you are ready for more responsibility)
  9. Do something that’s not required but that you feel is a best practice (This shows you’re on top of your game.  One example:  I send the Board a summary, the details, and the YoY trending of all of my expenses every year.  I don’t have to, but enough CEOs out there have high profile expense problems that I decided it’s a good practice.  They all LOVE it)
  10.  (If you have staff reporting into you) Show up for every check-in with  your manager with a list of all staff issues and highlights (You need to bubble things up, both good and bad, so your manager is on top of his or her overall team and (a) is never surprised by events, (b) knows how best to handle skip-level communications, and (c) can think more broadly about resource deployment across the organization)


Filed under: Culture, Leadership, Management


  • http://www.danielclough.com Daniel Clough

    Happy New Year Matt!

    There is a strong theme in this post and your previous one – and that is that there is a very genuine intent to care about people and to put their interests first.

    The best leaders / managers see their job as a coach and much of what they think about and do is focused on selflessly helping that person be their best. Often this means taking a personal interest in their life and looking beyond purely what they can just do for you. You need to take a genuine interest in understanding their ambitions and challenges and doing everything you can do to help them with that.

    Of course you need to juggle the above with company priorities and the task at hand, but if you have picked the right person they normally align and by being genuine and selfless you are rewarded with a happy, highly motivated and high performing person – it's a win-win.

    • Matt Blumberg

      I always say, get to know people as people!Matt

  • kevinfriedman

    Great post. I guess all of these ideas can be put in the "under-promise and over-deliver" bucket. I hope I can inspire our employees to do these things.

    I imagine employees will naturally do many of these things if you: a) hire for right cultural fit from the start, b) have them doing a job they enjoy, c) give them the support and recognition they need. Do you agree? Did I miss anything?

    • Matt Blumberg

      That's the trifecta!Matt

  • David Gray

    Hi Matt, I've been a long time fan and reader of your blog. Thanks for the great posts and inspiration. Charting your own path is the way to move forward in your career while helping your manager look good + doing your work with passion for the success of the team. I recall Zig Ziglar always wrote and preached about the power of helping others get what they want which will pave the way for your own success.


    • Matt Blumberg

      David, thanks for the nice note and great comment.  It’s kind of the original definition of win-win in the workplace, isn’t it?Matt

  • Malene C.

    Hello Matt…even though I am a part time employee and honestly more times unseen than seen or even heard. I appreciate this message and it really brings a few things to light for me as I try to do what is required of me…and [plenty more!. Thank you for continuing to be such an influence!

    • Matt Blumberg

      You’re welcome – you are seen and heard and appreciated!