Scrum master working with project team members

This might be the understatement of the century: not everyone loves their manager. But how can tech professionals work effectively with a manager they don’t really like?

In a new Business Insider column, Chris Williams, former VP of HR at Microsoft, has some key bits of advice. The whole column is well worth reading, but his guidance largely boils down to this:

  • Accept that you don’t need to be friends.
  • Look for common ground. 

Sounds simple, right? Figure out what drives your manager and adjust accordingly. “If your boss is a numbers person, relate on spreadsheets,” Williams writes. “Share your experiences and your value in rows and columns. If they're all about the customer, share your best customer-focused adventures. If they're concerned with image, find ways to make yourself and your team shine in the organization.” 

It’s also important to demonstrate your worth to your team and the organization. Whether you work remotely or you’re in the office full-time, make a point of communicating about your progress and results to your manager on a regular basis. When it comes time to negotiate for a promotion or raise, show how you’ve contributed mightily to the team’s overall success—that may help persuade your manager to give you what you want. Even if a manager can’t give you a raise due to budget, you can still potentially negotiate for benefits such as training and education or a more flexible schedule.

Managers also know they need to keep their reports happy, especially their tech specialists. According to the latest Dice Sentiment Report, 52 percent of tech pros are likely to switch jobs in the next year, up from 44 percent last year. Meanwhile, more than half of HR professionals indicated that attrition rates for tech professionals in their organization were higher in 2022 than in 2021. Those kinds of stats speak to managers’ need to work effectively with their teams—and understand what exactly their tech pros want out of their jobs.