Union Views: Remember to speak up when you work from home

Managing your relationship with your manager is another challenge to consider in working from home (photo: Pixabay)
August 1st, 2020 5:00 am| by Steen Vive 
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In recent months, working from home has become the new norm. 

Often the experience depends on the relationship you have with your manager. If your expectations are aligned and your dialogue is ongoing, you thrive. If not, it can create frustration and uncertainty. 

Important to speak up
Managers are not mind-readers. You have to help your manager to help you, and that requires you to understand your manager. What does the world look like from their perspective? What is their motivation and how are they measured on their performance?

Understanding your manager’s priorities affects the importance of your own tasks. This applies both to current tasks – for example, which ones on your list are also on theirs? But it also applies to future tasks and this is your opportunity to present ideas and suggestions that align with their motivation and goals. In my experience, it is easier to get the go-ahead if your ideas make your manager shine.

Framed feedback
But how do you do it when you can’t just swing into their office and plant an idea? When you can’t meet for lunch or take advantage of the many informal situations that occur when working together – physically?

When the informal occasions are gone, you need to focus on the formal ones. One-on-ones with your manager are limited. Make the most of them and help your manager by framing what you need.

Important to prioritise
When you book a feedback-session, prioritise what you need to find out (see factbox).

Use these considerations to frame your subject, purpose and form. It will focus your dialogue, increase the likelihood that the answers will be useful and align expectations.


Feedback Priorities
– Why do you need feedback?
– Is it planning, an established task, prioritisation or content?
– What do you hope to achieve?
– Is it clarification to improve quality or organisational backing?
– Who do you need feedback from?
– Is it your manager, project manager or perhaps a colleague?
– How do you prefer to receive feedback?
– Do you need advice, a discussion or coaching?

Steen Vive 


Steen is a senior adviser at the Djøf trade union, a professional organisation representing members who study or work within the areas of law, economics, strategy, management, politics, administration, business, research, communication and more. He is a blogger and manager of various projects aimed at generating jobs in the private sector. In this column he writes about trends and tendencies in the labour market. Follow him on Twitter @SteenVive.