Management Development

Facilitate Your Success by Managing Up

Passed over for promotion? Mediocre raise? Not landing the best assignments? It may not be due to your job performance. No matter how stellar your results, how much your co-workers and stakeholders depend on you – if your manager doesn’t know what a good job you’re doing, it won’t matter.

Too many professionals labor under the same myth: they assume that if they work hard and perform well, their boss will notice. The truth is, every boss has big responsibilities and may be too busy to notice everything their reports accomplish. The boss-employee relationship is a two-way street. Rather than passively wait for recognition, praise and direction, smart employees will proactively build a productive relationship with their bosses.

Excelling in the workplace is all well and good – but to be really successful, you need to know how to manage up. Consider the following.

  • Schedule regular face-time with your boss, and make sure you prepare an agenda for each meeting to make every moment count. Ask for feedback and expectations so you know how to deliver the right results.
  • Align yourself with your manager’s communication style and preferences. Is she analytical? Then support your ideas with facts and statistics. Is your boss always super-busy? Cut to the chase when you speak with him. Observe whether your manager prefers early morning meetings or after-work get-togethers and schedule accordingly.
  • Leave your ego at the door when you speak with your boss. Your goal should be to learn how you can get the best results and make your department look good. That includes learning your boss’s boundaries to ensure you’re not stepping on his or her toes.
  • Rather than waiting for instructions, look around and propose solutions to existing problems.
  • Demonstrate your long-term commitment by asking which skills you should develop to increase your value to the company – then follow through with the right classes and coaching.
  • Own your mistakes as quickly as you can. Explain how they happened and how you’ll avoid making the same mistake again, then do whatever your boss asks to get the problem resolved.
  • If your manager takes the heat for the team’s mistakes, allow him or her to take credit for the team’s success. This tells you that your manager takes ownership of all the department activities.
  • Learn the art of saying “no” – if you’re so busy that the quality of your work is suffering, tell your boss you can’t take on anymore.
  • Volunteer for high-profile projects. If other managers and executives notice your performance, you’ll make your boss look good – and set yourself up for bigger and better things.

Chances are you might be doing some of these already. The key is to take a proactive role in building your relationship with your manager, rather than passively hoping for credit and guidance. Often these tactics can make the difference in not only your experience at your current company but in your career overall. Remember, no matter how successful you get, you’ll still answer to someone – which makes learning to manage up one of the most valuable skills you can acquire.

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