How to Manage Up

Managing up in the workplace is not as difficult as you might think. Regardless of if your current boss is challenging or if they’re your best friend, it’s an essential part of successfully navigating your work experience. Creating a healthy and positive relationship with your supervisor is vital to your career, and to make this relationship work long-term, you need to set yourself up for success by having a strategic plan.

Type of Boss
There are a wide variety of boss-types that you may encounter during your career, and some may have more weaknesses than others. Even so, it is in your best interest to make this situation work. Not all bosses are created equal, and each supervisor you have may pose a unique set of challenges. Understanding your boss’s personality is necessary for your work relationship. For example, your boss may be insecure or all-knowing, or perhaps totally hands-off. Some supervisors provide conflicting requests or love to talk, taking up much of your workday in unproductive meetings. You may even realize that you are smarter than your boss or have more insider knowledge due to your longevity with the company. Depending on your location, you may never see your boss. Understanding the type of boss you have is important for having strategic conversations that are productive and beneficial to you both so that you can tailor your approach to how they respond best.

Even If You Have a Great Boss
While some superiors provide you with their own set of challenges, there are times that you may work for a great boss who you connect with like family for years to come. Even if you and your boss are besties, managing up is still an important business technique to master, and one that will serve as a resource you can tap into throughout your career. While having a strong relationship with your boss can be extremely beneficial, it’s still good to be aware of becoming too friendly with your boss. It’s always great to have an advocate in your office, but you want your work to speak for itself and not just your supervisor.

Managing Up Strategies
It’s important to manage your supervisor effectively, so we’ve included strategies to help you do just that.
1. No Surprises – This means exactly as it sounds. Inform them ahead of time of potential hurdles or pitfalls for an upcoming meeting or with others in the organization. You’ll have to be one step ahead of your manager so that you can provide pertinent information and present yourself as a go-to resource.
2. Over Communicate – Never let your boss wonder what it is that you’re doing with your time at work. This tactic can include updating and sharing your calendar of work meetings or informing the office of where you’re at for long periods. Make a request to have a frequent one-on-one session. During this time, inquire about feedback and communicate your priorities with your boss. Be prepared for these meetings in advance!
3. Be A Resource – Be the one that can connect your boss to new opportunities or provide that extra set of hands when needed. You want your boss to look his or her best. Do that by providing them with added value by positioning yourself the right way. Your ultimate goal is for your boss to move on so that you may one day have his or her role, and you can do this by building an established relationship by letting your work showcase your skills.

Time Your Talks
It is critical to build an open relationship through your work with strong and regular communication before you start to manage up. For example, confront office issues early in an effort to prevent office drama. When doing so, your first step is to be polite, give concrete examples, and try not to insult your supervisor. By reaching out to your manager about issues that arise, you’re helping the overall company be successful, and if they are a good manager, they’ll appreciate your efforts.

Make It Work
Managing up is not only practical but an essential dynamic in your day-to-day to have a positive experience at work and overall job satisfaction. Too often, managers are labeled “bad” when they might just be overwhelmed with the amount of work they have. Understanding the boss’ ego and then how to operate productively with your supervisor is part of your job. Having difficult, but productive conversations about areas that could go better, ideas for efficiency or things that are weighing on your mind are part of doing this successfully.

Remember, you can’t over-communicate with your supervisor. Hedging any potential roadblocks early will help your working relationship be at its best and show that you are a forward-thinking employee. This approach may force you to change how you work in your office by requiring some extra time in the beginning. However, adopting this new method of communication may lead to higher job satisfaction for both you and your manager in the long run.

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