Climb the Ladder

What Does it Mean to Manage Up?

Knowing how to get the best out of yourself, your boss, and your organization is a valuable skill that can shape your career. Most employees believe that all they need is to do their job well, but it takes much more. Managing-up requires that you understand and adapt to your boss’s management, decision making, and communication styles.

By being dependable and proactive, you become a valuable asset to your organization. Mastering the skill of managing-up helps create a symbiotic relationship between you and your boss. You can achieve this by understanding yours and your boss’s needs, strengths, weaknesses, goals and work styles. Then use this information to develop a healthy and symbiotic working relationship.

How Do You Manage-Up Effectively?

1. Lead and Manage Yourself

One of your manager’s key responsibilities is to lead and manage his or her team. Learning to lead and manage yourself is one of the first steps in managing up. Not only will this make you more effective, but it’ll also save your manager loads of time.

Understanding your role in terms of specific outcomes and the timeline for achieving them is critical. Do your boss a favor by achieving your goals in a timely manner If you are in a role like sales where there are set targets, managing yourself means achieving and exceeding those targets.

2. Help Your Boss Achieve His or Her Goals

If you are good at your job, you’re not only an asset to your boss, but to the entire organization. It’s important to understand your company’s business goals in order to work towards achieving them.

A great way to do this is to set up a meeting with your manager to regularly sync on the bigger picture and where the business is heading so that you have a clear-cut plan on how to add value. Remember: you can’t win if your company fails. Understand your company’s goals on a holistic level and your individual goals will start to make a lot more sense as well.

3. Over-Communicate

As an employee, it’s possible to frustrate your boss if they are caught off guard, even if it is unintentional. Be sure to do your best to be transparent in your communication, always keeping them in the loop, sometimes even if the information seems unnecessary. It’s better to over communicate than to be out of sync with the rest of your team.

4. Value Their Time

Every time you are meeting with your manager, make sure you are fully prepared so as to not waste both yours or their valuable time. Come prepared with your agenda and updates, and if there is a problem you want to discuss, do your best to have an analysis and proposed solution when entering into your meeting. Even if your ideas aren’t fully in line with theirs, they’ll take note of your initiative and proactive approach to problem-solving.

5. Providing and asking for support

Good managers know that they’re not a one-man team. They hire employees because they know that other people can do certain things better than them. A huge part of your job will be leveraging your own skills in order to provide support to your manager.

In turn, you may find that managing up means not only providing support but asking for it as well. If it helps you do your job better, you may find yourself asking your manager if you can hire a freelancer, have an extra weekly meeting to sync on part of your job, or even just asking for approval to purchase a new tool that will help you do your job better. Whatever it is, you’ll ultimately know how you can do your job best and managing up may mean being open and communicating that with your manager.

6. Help Him with the Most Mundane Tasks

Your boss may be wasting valuable time on trivial assignments that consume a lot of time. Most employees don’t offer help with these types of assignments since they don’t help them develop any new skills. Show that you are ready to help by taking on tasks that are not even included in the job description. When you constantly step up to help; your boss will also do anything within his power to help advance your career.

7. Excel with People

Rarely do you get to choose your boss or peers. If it happens that you’re unable to work with others or manage conflict your boss may have to step in. This eats into their time and they are forced into situations they had not anticipated.

Capitalize on your emotional intelligence to develop strong working relationships with everyone. Show that you’re willing to go the extra mile for your team by ensuring win-win outcomes in all your interactions.

8. Tap Into Your Boss’s Mood

Timing is of the essence when communicating with your boss. Gauge their mood and think about how they will react to the information or request you want to present. It is also important to know when to back off especially when you’ve spoken to them about something and they are yet to get back. Is this matter urgent? Will this information help them succeed? Is this information that they are unaware of? Are some of the questions you should ask yourself.

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What are The Don’ts of Managing Up?

1. Don’t Overstep Your Mandate

Know your limits when managing up. It’s important to understand that while your ideas bring value to the team, you’re still going to need to get the green flag from your supervisor for certain things. Do your job the best you can and don’t be afraid to make decisions and use your own critical thinking – just be sure to check back with your manager and make sure you’re both on the same page before you make a decision that doesn’t coincide with the grand business plan. Though you may have good intentions, it’s important to avoid overstepping your boundaries.

2. Don’t Take More Than You Can Chew

When doing your best to manage up, you may be tempted to take on more than you can handle in an attempt to make a good impression, or simply because delegation doesn’t come naturally to you. While setting ambitious goals might be great, be sure you don’t promise more than you can return.

3. Don’t Overstress Yourself

Taking time to get used to different styles of management and company cultures is to be expected. Even so, do your best to learn as much as you can from your manager and align with their vision and the vision of the company as a whole. Managing up is an art and when done right, it not only helps your boss achieve his goals but also allows you to do your job in the best way, utilizing the skills you uniquely bring to the table.

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