Managing Your Manager: Understanding Their Preferences, Priorities, and Pet Peeves

As an Assistant, managing your manager can sometimes be a challenging task. In a recent Virtual Summit, Podcast Host and Founder of The Linchpin Assistant, Liz Van Vliet, shared the three P’s – Preferences, Priorities, and Pet Peeves – which can be a helpful approach to building a solid working relationship with your Executive and ensure smooth communication and collaboration.

In this article, we will explore how understanding these three P’s can help you effectively manage your Executive and share some practical tips for incorporating them into your daily interactions.

Preferences: How Your Executive Likes Things Done

Understanding your Executive’s preferences is crucial to aligning your work style with theirs. It involves knowing how they like things done and what works best for them. For example, it could be how they prefer formatted documents, their communication preferences (such as using Slack or WhatsApp), or how they like to close off a conversation. You can gain insight into their preferences by observing and noticing their communication style, work pace, and time orientation.

To proactively understand your manager’s preferences, initiate a conversation with them to discuss and document their preferences. This can be done when you start working together or even if you have been working together for a while but feel the need to clarify certain aspects. By having an open and honest conversation, you can ensure that you are aligned with their expectations and preferences, making your work more efficient and effective.


Priorities: What’s Important to Your Executive

Understanding your Executive’s priorities is essential to ensure your work aligns with their expectations and goals. This involves knowing what tasks or projects are critical to them and their manager and what they want to achieve in their role and career. By being aware of their priorities, you can allocate your time and efforts accordingly to support their goals and make a meaningful contribution to the team.

To incorporate their priorities into your communication, regularly check in with your manager to review and discuss their priorities. You can use phrases like “I noticed that you indicated that your priorities were A, B, C, and D, and I want to discuss how we can align our efforts to support these priorities.” By keeping an open and transparent communication channel, you can ensure that you are on the same page with your manager and working towards the same goals.

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Pet Peeves: What Your Executive Dislikes

Understanding your manager’s pet peeves is crucial to avoid unnecessary mistakes or misunderstandings. Pet peeves are things your manager dislikes or finds annoying, such as document errors, scheduling conflicts, or not adhering to their preferences. Knowing their pet peeves, you can avoid these pitfalls and maintain a professional working relationship.

To proactively address their pet peeves, be attentive to their feedback and communication cues. If your manager expresses dissatisfaction or discomfort with a particular aspect of your work, take note and make necessary adjustments. It’s also essential to communicate openly with your manager and ask for their feedback on improving and meeting their expectations.

Managing Up: Piecing Together the Executive Puzzle

Managing up is about understanding your manager’s preferences, priorities, and pet peeves to piece together the puzzle of their work style and communication style. By being curious, observant, and proactive, you can build a strong working relationship with your manager and ensure your efforts align with their expectations.

In addition to the three P’s, it’s also essential to understand your manager’s goals, motivations, and concerns. This involves having insight into their career aspirations, current work climate, and decision-making process. By understanding these aspects, you can better anticipate their needs and provide valuable support.