Managers Vs Peers – Is One Relationship More Important than the Other?

Manager vs peers

In the workplace there are many relationships to maintain and develop. The relationship with your manager is an important one. Your manager has the ability to shape you and your career as they are generally the person you seek for advice and support. On the other hand, relationships with colleagues and/or peers are also important and will add to your knowledge and growth in different ways. Is one relationship more important than the other?     

The following scenarios are real life situations that require you to choose between workplace relationships. Read through and think about how you would react before viewing the appropriate choice. 

1. Your Manager asks you to complete a task by the end of the day, and your colleague asks you to help them with something that same day that will take approximately one hour. Do you:

a) Tell your colleague you can’t help them because your manager has asked you to do something else which is much more important.

b) Tell your manager that your colleague isn’t coping with their work as they have asked for your help with something.

c) Look at your schedule to check if there are any other tasks you can move to the next day that will allow you to have more spare time. Speak to both your manager and colleague confirming that you are eager to complete both tasks and try to come up with a solution that will benefit everyone.

Choose: c

This choice reflects you are a team player, you genuinely care for your colleagues and you are not just about getting in your manager’s good favour. This will strengthen your relationship with your colleague and your manager will be willing to help knowing that your intentions are for the well-being of the team.       

 2. Your Manager is away and your peers are stepping in to assist with the flow of work by instructing the team about priorities for the day. Do you:

a) Give your full support to your colleagues, following their instructions, contributing where you can and letting them know that you are readily available to help.

b) Continue on with your own work, stay focused and work hard. You use this time to get ahead in your own work so when your manager is back they will be impressed by the significant progress you have made.

c) Go and speak to another manager to ensure that the team is on the right track with the plan that you and your colleagues have put in place.

Choose: a

This choice reflects your trust in your colleagues and puts the team’s goals first before your individual work goals. Your manager will be impressed as ultimately their goal is to ensure they equip their team with the tools to be able to function in their absence.

3. You receive a meeting request from the Manager of Accounts to discuss an accounts matter, however they get called to another meeting and send you an update advising that one of their staff will attend the meeting instead. Do you:

a) Send an update to the meeting request to reschedule the meeting. If the manager can’t attend, you probably won’t get all the information you need.

b) Accept the updated meeting invite and attend the meeting. You conduct yourself in the same way you would have if the manager had attended and thank the accounts staff member for attending at short notice.

c) Accept the updated meeting invite and attend the meeting. You make sure to ask whether the manager is across the information that is provided and send a follow up email to the manager clarifying the information.

Choose: b

This choice displays your adaptability and respect for staff at all levels and the manager will appreciate your willingness to keep things moving. Also, the Manager would not have sent a staff member to conduct the meeting that was not capable, therefore continuing on with the process also reflects your trust in the Manager.

As you can see, it’s important to value all professional relationships equally. One is not more important than the other. There are many rewards awaiting you once you commit to this approach.

In some cultures, it is common practice to value the relationship with your manager above all others and if necessary, to sacrifice other relationships to maintain this one. However, typically within the Australian business culture it is important that you find a balance between all professional relationships and respect all those around you. The ultimate reward of strengthening relationships and building trust and rapport with everyone is the foundation of building a successful career!   


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