Learning how to manage your manager (a.k.a. leader or pastor) takes time, patience, and ingenuity because every manager is different.
When you manage your manager, or “manage up” as Rosanne Badowski, former Executive Assistant to Jack Welch, calls it, you become an expert at organizing your office to create more time for you and your manager.
You have to know how your manager operates and implement systems that cause him to “help” you maintain order and effectiveness… sometimes without him even knowing what he’s doing.
When you implement time-creating systems into your everyday routine you allow your manager (pastor) to skip over items that would consume much of their time.
So what kind of systems can you implement?
The first is pretty simple and it may be something that you already do: or reading and sorting mail. This is a basic task, but you can take it one step further.
As you read the mail, highlight the important points so that your manager can hit the high points quickly without having to wade through the unnecessary background material.
I even add a post-it note to the item with a brief description of what it is the person is requesting.
Another way to create time for your manager is to use two pocket folders. I have 3 that I use every day. They are color coded red (Need Response In 24 hrs), yellow (Need Response Within the Week), and green (For Review, No Response Needed). Inside each folder I have a label on each pocket. The right side says incomplete and the left side says complete.
Now, my manager sees the red folder and knows that I need it back right away. She takes the items from the Incomplete side, and when she’s done she puts them on the Complete side. Now when I walk into her office I grab the folder and in 2 seconds I can tell if what I need is complete or not.
One key to managing your manager is understanding their personality and what will work for them specifically.
For example, before I started using the red-yellow-green folder system, I had a set of about 10 file folders that I used to categorize the mail for my boss.
When I picked up the mail I’d sort it and put it all in its own folder (for example, invoices to be signed had a folder, mail from our children’s ministry coordinator had a folder, special letters had a folder, and so on).
Once I had the mail sorted, I’d put a note on the portable file box that said “you’ve got mail” and set it on her desk. Well, unfortunately for me, she never checked the box… even with the bright orange “you’ve got mail” note plastered across the front.
I realized that even though it was a good idea, it was too time consuming and possibly overwhelming for her. It wasn’t something that could be done quickly.
After about 2 weeks of not getting my mail read I started my red-yellow-green folder system which works perfectly.
So knowing your manager is very important.
One last example of managing your manager relates to “In/Out” trays. At one time we had an “In” tray on Pastor’s desk that I put all items that needed a response from her.
Well as noted above, I now use the pocket folder method for getting items to her. When it came to getting items from her we had another tray which was the “Out” tray. Or she’d call me into her office to tell me what she needed done.
This was very inconvenient in that everything got piled into this one “Out” tray or I was in and out of her office all day long.
My solution was to place two trays in her office. One labeled “Urgent – Needs to be Done w/i 24 hours” and the other labeled “Not Urgent – Needs to be “Done w/i the Week”. I asked her to help me with my system and use the trays when she had assignments for me.
Now please don’t get me wrong, the trays didn’t eliminate all of the calls into her office and I’d venture to say they never will. However, they did greatly reduce them. I check the trays periodically throughout the day and I get so much more work done in the process.
Managing your manager doesn’t need to be complicated.
If your goal is to help him gain hours in the day, he’ll appreciate it and more than likely participate in your system. It may take time at first, but stick with it and tweak your systems until you get them just right.
Success as a church secretary is all about preparation. There are not many jobs that can provide as much fulfillment as ours. On the flip side, it also comes with a lot of sacrifices.
As long as you remember that your pastor’s vision always comes first, you’ll eliminate much of the stress that can come from misplaced priorities. When your pastor wins, you win.
Always be forgiving.
One critical point to remember is that you must always be forgiving. There are many times when you may feel slighted or unappreciated. On days when you don’t want to be bothered with anyone, you have to be bothered with everyone. You must figure out how to incorporate time for yourself into your busy schedule.
There may be times when you should “have” your day off to yourself, and don’t get the luxury. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. If you work hard at being extraordinarily great at what you do, your boss will tend to lean on you a lot.
That’s a good thing. He’ll also be willing to give you the time you need because he’ll know that if you’re asking, you must really need it.
There is nothing more important in building a successful partnership with your pastor than trust. He has to know that he can trust you to be loyal and discreet at all times.
You should be thorough and always follow-through on tasks, making life easier for your pastor. Most problems on a job result from lack of follow- through.
When you develop routine systems and follow them consistently, you will produce a consistent quality of work.
Turn your mistakes into learning opportunities and work with compassion and commitment to purpose.