Usually what you need from your manager is direction, feedback, or support based on a business need. It may take time to develop confidence and courage to express your needs in a powerful way to get the response you want.
Instead of getting flustered when you can't track down your busy manager, take the lead in learning what works best for the two of you in these situations. It's important to know your manager's communication and work style. If you're unsure, ask pointed questions such as if they prefer e-mails, calls, or face-to-face meetings. Try to understand what demands and responsibilities are on his or her plate and then find the best time to approach him or her. Always consider the urgency of your needs, bundle your conversation topics, and take each assignment as far as you can alone before involving your manager.
Before meeting with your manager, know your facts and be prepared. Because managers are busy, you need to convey your points quickly and effectively. Become a “fixer”, always offering solutions to the concerns you bring up. When necessary, use direct and clear ‘I need' statements.
By being prepared, considerate and efficient, your manager will learn that you value his or her time. And you'll build your credibility as an effective employee, which will encourage your manager to make him or herself available to you as needed.
Laura Smith, MD, US Human Resources, Edelman