Managing Up? How to Advance Your Career

Managing Up

Your relationship with your boss can have a huge positive or negative impact on your job satisfaction and career advancement. Even if your boss has a few flaws in their management style or you just don’t seem to get along, you can still work together successfully if you learn the art of managing up. And, it is an art.

The more skillful you become at helping your boss, anticipating their needs, making their job a little easier, volunteering to take on assignments before being asked, the more valuable you become to them. You’ll be more productive and change how your boss sees you.

Managing up starts with paying attention to your own performance. If you consistently meet and exceed expectations, your boss will be more likely to value your feedback and trust you with greater responsibility.

These strategies will help you stand out:

  1. Clarify priorities. Understand your boss’s priorities, and make them your priority, so you’ll know where to devote your time and efforts. Start your day by blocking out time for your most urgent and important tasks.
  2. Leverage your strengths. Figure out your strengths, and then utilize them to make your job easier. Try to structure your job so that your activities align with your natural strengths.
  3. Fulfill commitments. Don’t over promise what you can’t deliver. Be realistic with commitments. Then, deliver what you promise. Meet deadlines and complete projects, especially when your work affects what your boss and colleagues are trying to accomplish.
  4. Continue learning. Acquiring new knowledge and skills shows your boss that you care about your work. Shadow another employee at the office that you think does a great job or sign up for a training course.
  5. Stay upbeat. Nobody likes to be around someone that only complains. A cheerful presence makes it easier to deal with workplace stress. Take a deep breath and smile. Find ways to bring humor into challenging situations.
  6. Add value. Evaluate your performance on a regular basis so you can track your accomplishments and share them with your boss. Set ambitious goals and find areas of your job where you can excel. This helps your boss with the end of year reviews and shows them that you are doing your best.

Use these techniques when interacting with your boss

Even if your boss plays favorites or lacks strong communication skills, these techniques will build a healthier relationship.

  1. Adapt to their style. It’s up to you to adjust to your boss’ habits and preferences. Observe how your boss communicates with others and notice the differences between you. Don’t copy them exactly. Instead, pick a few that feel more natural and incorporate them into your interactions with your boss.
  2. Be supportive. Remember that your boss is human and you’re on the same team. Put yourself in their shoes. Empathize with the pressures they face. Focus on finding ways to make them look good and make their job easier. This will ultimately reflect back on you in a positive way.
  3. Provide updates. Keep your boss informed about what you’re doing. Let them know when you’re making progress. If you need to report a setback, be prepared with at least one proposal for how to fix the issue. Even if you make a mistake, we all do, let them know and share your learnings for next time.
  4. Respect their time. Show your boss that you value their time. Write up and share with them an agenda before you meet with them and follow up with a list of action items afterward.
  5. Anticipate their needs. Try to provide your boss with answers before they have to ask the question. Monitor the company calendar and their schedule to see what meetings and events they have coming up to allow you to be proactive about collecting and creating relevant information and reports.
  6. Socialize occasionally. Even though your primary focus needs to be on work, make small talk at the beginning of meetings, attend office parties and chat about hobbies, vacations, and your families.

Implementing these steps will help build trust between you and your boss and stand out from the crowd. Your work life will be less stressful, and the best part, your career will advance!

Please reach out if you would like help learning how to manage up to help advance your career, happy to help!