Regardless of how talented you are and how hard you work, if you don’t have a good working relationship with your boss, having success within your role and your organization is going to be an uphill battle and one you are likely to lose if you can’t make that relationship work. This is an unfortunate and perhaps seemingly unfair truth. The good news is, there are tools and tactics you can use to improve that relationship and make it work in your favour. This is what we call “managing up.”
What is Managing Up?
Managing up is essentially a way of being tactful in your behaviour and communication with your supervisor to help make their job easier (and by association, your job as well!). Managing up requires being proactive in your role to help support your manager and taking it upon yourself to understand their needs, communication styles, preferences and goals. This doesn’t mean reading their mind, you can also use open communication to help inform the best ways to support them in their role.
Why Should You Manage Up?
Managing up doesn’t just help your supervisor, but also makes your job and work life easier. Having a good report with your boss will improve your satisfaction in your job, reduce conflicts and misunderstandings and strengthen your professional relationship. This will also create opportunities for growth and advancement in your company and if you eventually decide to leave, will hopefully mean a great reference and maybe even a lifelong mentor.
How To Manage Up At Work
Now that we’ve defined managing up and discussed the benefits, what are the takeaways and tools you can implement right now and going forward?
1. Adaptability & Flexibility
Your manager may have different ways of doing things, or a management style that is unfamiliar to you. Make an effort to be open to their way of doing things, adapt your behaviour and be flexible to match their preferences.
Having open communication is paramount to success in any relationship and this includes the professional relationship you have with your managers and supervisors. If recurring meetings aren’t a part of your current situation at work, request this going forward with your immediate supervisor. This can be an opportunity to discuss expectations, goals, priorities and have frequent status checks to ensure those are being met and to avoid conflict before it arises.
3. Anticipate Their Needs
Be proactive in your role and consider what is coming up next and how you can help support your manager as that occurs. Take initiative to complete tasks, solve problems and come up with solutions.
4. Build Trust
Be a reliable member of the team. This means showing up on time, delivering consistent, high quality work and being a team player. It also means being honest with your manager and communicating with them if you are facing obstacles, or your workload is becoming unmanageable.
5. Manage Conflicts Positively
In the event that a conflict does arise, take a professional and constructive approach to dealing with the issue. Be proactive by bringing solutions to your manager and talking through issues in order to work through them.
By implementing these tools in the workplace you can not only help to support your manager, making their life easier, but it will also earn their respect and lead to greater satisfaction and success for yourself in your professional life. As you approach your relationship with your supervisor going forward, be proactive, communicate openly and consider how you can best support them. Putting in this effort can pay you back exponentially, resulting in feeling more fulfilled in your role as well as more opportunities for growth in your professional life.
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Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.
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