The Pros & Cons in Surprising Your Manager
It’s actually hard to find any good reason for surprising your manager, and you should probably avoid it, why? because relationships are based on trust and your teamwork with your manager is no different. When you are doing something that your manager is totally unaware about, you are putting you and your manager in a position that he might not be able to assist you, or worse - you are doing the exact opposite of what he expects you to do. The confidence that your manager is giving in you is correlated with how many times you are surprising him.
Yes, there are good surprises… which can be nice, but it requires from you to deeply understand the definition of good and bad in the point of view of your manager. When surprising, do it face to face and learn your manager’s reaction - avoid doing it publicly in group meetings or by emails. For example, let’s assume that there is a group status meeting, your project is far behind schedule and your decision is to extend the deadline. One way of doing it is discussing with your manager before the meeting and preparing him about this status, another way is surprising him with this update during the meeting and declaring the decision you took. His reaction is now measured by other teammates, which direction will you choose?
It doesn’t mean that you must sync about every decision with your manager. On the contrary, your manager expects you to take decisions and ownership, but some decisions, depends on your manager personality, should be in sync with him, the more you are familiar with your manager, it will be easier for you to surprise him less.