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You know those ‘friends’ that are never on time? Or the ones that always ‘forget’ to call/text you back? Or god forbid that friend who always steals your blender on margarita night? Ugh, they’re the worst. When you experience this enough, you learn how to deal with these issues ahead of time. Set arrival times 15-30 mins early, take a break from calling/texting for a bit, and never invite that sticky-fingered Dustin over on Taco Tuesday night again! In each case, you’re managing your own expectations, adapting the circumstances, and guiding along an intended result. You can do this with your boss too. And it’s called ‘ managing up.

Creating room for a positive work relationship with your boss isn’t only good for your career; it also makes work life easier and enables you to become more productive. The stereotype is that bosses enjoy making life difficult for their employees, however, even if your boss does have a lot of shortcomings, it is in your best interest as an employee to make the relationship work.

In managing up, you must first of all, take time to provide answers to some critical questions. They include:

  • What makes your boss tick?
  • What are the right ways to discuss problems with him/her?
  • How can I anticipate my boss’ needs?
  • What does success look like for him/her?

Providing answers to these questions will help you navigate through difficult situations.

Sure, there’s gonna be times when you may disagree with your boss. It happens, they are a person just like you. And that’s okay. But if you know how to navigate in a productive and respective way, you will be able to reach your intended goal together. And that’s managing up.

How managing up can make you more productive and effective

Remember that managing up doesn’t mean sucking up; it means being the best employee you can be, and creating value for your organization AND your boss. The best path to building a positive relationship with your boss begins and ends with doing your job and kicking ass at it.

Bottling up concerns or leaving issues unaddressed, will only make frustrated, stressed, and with poor morale. That typically leads to quiting your job or even getting fired. Therefore the best way to become productive and effective at work is to strategically plan how to manage up and figure out how to work more effectively with your boss.

Also, note that having the skill to work with your boss effectively will pay off in dividends not just to you but also to your boss and the organization at large.

Tricks and Tips for Managing Up

  • Develop a positive relationship: Creating a positive relationship with your boss will help you build trust which is the bond that holds everything together.
  • Know what their success looks like: Identify the key factors in what will make your boss look successful to his/her boss. Is it a particular metric, project, goal, conversation, or reputation. If they’re not already seek to align your goals with your boss’ so as to provide direct value to their efforts.
  • Remember that your boss is human: Sometimes your boss may show up at work looking frustrated, angry and grouchy. Don’t forget they are a person too. Remain thoughtful when working with them.
  • Ask for feedback after a project: Sometimes your boss may be too busy to leave feedback on a completed project. It is vital that you take out some times to ask him or her for feedback about the completed job and discover new areas to improve in subsequent projects.
  • Maintain a thick skin: Avoid taking things personally. Always keep your ego out of issues. There are times when you might have a different point of view with your boss. When this happens, simply advocate for things you believe are right and try in return to understand their broader perspective.
  • Do Your Job Well: Doing your job well is a great way to have a strong relationship with your boss, ensure that you prioritize to get the most important task done first and appropriately.

Finally, managing up isn’t about manipulation. It’s about proactively actioning steps that will create a collective positive outcome. It’s about working together in order to create the best possible result for the organization. Learning how to manage up will save you time and effort. And providing one less thing your boss needs to worry about will result mutual appreciation.

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