Five ways to successfully manage up
May 05, 2019
How is it that some people rocket up the promotional track? That some people have a great relationship with that difficult founder or boss?
The short answer is that most likely those people are successfully managing up.
Managing up is not a new concept but it’s not something people really talk about. It feels like it should be unnecessary – shouldn’t your boss be managing you?
Head’s up, every person is just a person. You have strengths and weaknesses and your boss does too. Managing up isn’t manipulative, it’s not about promotions or climbing the corporate ladder. It’s about adding value for your boss, and building a strong relationship with a key member of your team.
Here are a few ways you can start managing up today:
1. Find out how your boss likes to communicate
This one is easy! The method of communication is limited and your choices are pretty much:
Personally, I’m someone who responds almost immediately to text compared to “when I open my laptop” for email. I would always prefer that someone reporting to me text me or call me if there’s something I need to know.
- In person
2. Learn your boss’ communication style
This is different than how to get a hold of your boss, or how your boss gets a hold of you. This is about speaking their language. I recently reported to an engineer and the only way to ever get a point across was to find a study and quote it. Otherwise, my point was lost.
3. Find out what your boss values
Is that KPIs? Client happiness? Efficient problem solving?
Find out what it is and optimize your results for that. If you don’t know, ask. I have never met a leader who doesn’t like to hear “What are the key results that you would like?’
4. Make your boss look good
Surprise! Your boss probably has a boss! (Yes, shareholders, investors, or a board of directors counts.) Your job is to be on their team so that when your boss looks good, you do too. Think higher level and make results-oriented choices that drive the overall company goals.
5. Stand your ground and be honest
This sounds counter-intuitive. It isn’t. If you are being asked to complete something that you can’t before the deadline – say so. If the project won’t bring in the revenue your boss thinks it will, say that too.
It’s key that your manager trusts what you say, and knows that you won’t over promise and under deliver.
The bottom line is: go out of your way to add value. You want your boss to support you and give you opportunities. Make that easy for them!