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What You Need to Know About Managing Up

Your relationship with your boss can have a big impact on your job satisfaction and career. Even if there seem to be some flaws in their management style or your personalities clash, you can still work together successfully if you learn the art of managing up.

The more skillful you become at helping your boss to plan and organize activities, the more valuable you become to them. You’ll probably be happier and more productive at work as well.

Take charge of your career and maximize your opportunities by learning how to manage up.

A professional man holding a pen working in his office with a laptop and paperworks.


Doing Your Job Well

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 shine:

1. Clarify priorities.

A woman categorizing her post it notes

Understand your boss’s priorities, 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.

You’ll perform better if you make your strengths work for you. Try to structure your job so that your activities align with your natural capabilities.

3. Fulfill commitments.

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 or sign up for a training course.

5. Stay upbeat.

A cheerful presence makes it easier to deal with workplace stress. Take a deep breath and smile. Look for humor in 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.

Interacting with Your Boss

Even if your boss plays favorites or lacks strong communication skills, there are many things you can do to build a healthier relationship.

Try these techniques to bond and connect with your boss:

1. Adapt to their style.

A woman holding a pen and a clipboard while looking at a woman and a man talking.

It’s up to you to adjust to your boss’s habits and preferences. Observe how they communicate with others and notice the differences between you. You may want to practice acting like them in minor ways until it feels more natural.

2. Be supportive.

Remember that your boss is human and you’re on the same team. Empathize with the pressures they face. Focus on finding ways to make them look good and make their job easier.

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.

4. Respect their time.

Show your boss that you value their time. Write up an agenda before you meet with them and send them 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. Be proactive about collecting and creating relevant information and reports.

6. Socialize occasionally.

Men holding a glass of wine socializing at a party

While your primary focus needs to be on work, having fun together can enrich any business relationship. Attend office parties and outings. Chat about hobbies, vacations, and your families.

Use managing up to help you develop a mutually beneficial relationship with your boss. Your work life will be less stressful, and your career will grow.

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