Let’s face it: Managers can be annoying and, from time to time, you may be tempted to ignore their instructions. This is all completely logical, of course. Managers often haven’t done the job you’ve done—at least not for years—and you likely have insights that they lack. But, ignore managers at your own peril.

Managers Have Power Over You

Your manager may be a brilliant and skilled technician who can guide and direct you to do a better job. Or your manager might have zero experience in service. Most likely your manager is somewhere in the middle. Regardless, managers have power over you. They can influence (or simply choose) which assignments you get, what holidays you get off and when you get to take vacation. In other words, when you make her mad, you make your own life miserable.

They See the Big Picture

Certain situations at the office can seem completely unfair. For example, imagine that you have a co-worker who gets to leave early all the time, but every time you ask for two hours off you’re met with a stern “No.” It’s annoying and feels like your manager playing favorites. But, what you don’t know is that your co-worker’s time off is approved under FMLA because he’s taking his sick child to physical therapy. Remember that there are reasons for circumstances that you don’t know about (and that your manager can’t talk about, either).

When a Manager Says Something Is Important, It’s Important

Your micro-managing manager strikes again with an odd request: I need you to fill out these reports in blue ink instead of black ink. As ridiculous as the request might seem, remember that, for whatever reasons, blue is important to her. She has power over you (see above), so consider just using the blue ink. That’s not to say it would be imprudent to ask why the blue ink is so important.

Want to Climb the Ladder? Managers Are the First Rung.

I’m not saying you have to suck up to your managers, but you’d be smart to keep them happy. The easiest way to accomplish this? Do great work. But keeping them happy also requires paying attention to the things that matter to them (no matter how trivial) and to always being polite. If you grouse about your manager, it’s likely to get back to her. Sure, complaints are to be expected, but too much negativity could hold back your career advancement.

But Must You Suffer in Silence?

Of course not! You can ask your manager to explain her logic. You can (and should) report any illegal behavior (such as sexual harassment or racial discrimination). If you can’t resolve an issue with your manager directly, go to human resources or to your manager’s boss.

The bottom line: Keeping the boss happy definitely helps keep you happy as well.

ABOUT Suzanne Lucas

Avatar photoSuzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She now writes about Human Resources and Business for a number of different publications.