Indeed, a management idea that can help you stand out and succeed in the business world is the concept of managing up. Managing up is one of those theories that you learn in an MBA or read in the Harvard Business Review. For example, if you want to improve your chances for promotion (motivation,) you should consider how to make your boss’s life easier (strategy/action.) It is about taking responsibility (self-management,) and essentially, managing your manager. There is no doubt that this practice will help you be more efficient, learn more, and create more opportunities for yourself. Managing up will give you an edge.
In the real world, bosses can be challenging. An article published in the Harvard Business Review provided this list of potentially tricky situations concerning bosses:
✔️A brand new boss, someone you’ve never met before
✔️A manager you don’t see face-to-face because she works in another location
✔️An insecure boss (hint: it’s essential to know how to work with his ego)
✔️A hands-off boss
✔️ A manager who gives you conflicting messages
✔️A long-winded boss
✔️An all-knowing or indecisive boss
✔️A manager who isn’t as smart as you
✔️A boss that’s dealing with a lot of stress and pressure from his boss
Managing up is a combination of assessing who your boss is, what they’re up against, the best way to support this person, and how, through all of this, you get your professional objectives met. The goal is to ease the managerial burden by helping clear the path for them, and essentially, you and your team. Therefore, take the time to consider what it takes to manage yourself as you prepare to grow in your career.
Here Are Some Suggestions to Managing Up:
To begin, in your one-on-one meetings with your boss be curious. Ask yourself: What influences your manager? What have you noticed regarding this at meetings? Who are the team members your manager seems to respect and why? How can you earn the respect of your manager? How do you build trust with this particular manager? Who does this manager trust and why? You might ask yourself why you should put in this type of effort and accommodate your manager, my answer is, because it’s the right strategic move. In view of the fact that in the end, you will both achieve your goals. And because, even if, in the worst-case scenario, you don’t like your manager, you have to rise above the circumstances and find a way to do well.
Another area to be curious about is considering what your manager has on their plate. What are they up against? Who is their boss and what might dealing with this next-level manager be like? What are your boss’s professional objectives and goals? And ultimately, are there ways you could help support your boss to meet these goals?
On a high level what we are talking about it being curious about who your manager is and what you can do to help support your manager above and beyond your assigned tasks.
Take Extreme Ownership
Take full responsibility for everything you come in contact with and every project goal and KPI. This is an attitude of leadership regardless of the level you are currently on. Go above and beyond. Understand the purpose and vision of your company and do what you can to further that goal.
Of course, don’t be reactive. Don’t wait for your manager to direct you. Communicate with your manager, especially about the direction of the company. Directly ask what you could do to take something off their plate. Clear a path for your manager in pursuit of the team goal. Keep in mind the company vision. If you care about that vision, it will be evident.
Be a Low-Maintenance Superstar
Above all, show up and own your work. If you’re assigned something, don’t turn in a rough draft. Don’t expect your manager to up-level the work by polishing it for you. Take another pass at your work, consider how it can be refined and improved before you turn it in or pass it to the team.
Finally, if you want to be a leader, take every opportunity to practice. There are hundreds of books and articles about leadership. Challenge yourself to apply one or more leadership principles at work each month. Leadership is about taking responsibility, look for opportunities to have a leadership attitude, you may find it humbling and eye-opening. Successful leaders will not ask anyone to do anything they wouldn’t do. In other words, leaders lead by example. Leaders take on the burdens of responsibility.
Conclusion to Managing Up
To sum up, if you seek strategies to deal with a demanding boss or want to enhance your skills at managing up, we can help! Give us a call. We have the experience and expertise to help you go forward.
Want more advice on managing up? The coaches at Ignite Your Potential are here to help. Reach out and take advantage of our complimentary 25-minute phone sessions.
Ready to shift into overdrive? Try our new Career Course, designed to help find an engaging, fun, and fulfilling career.