Managing Up To Build Beneficial Work Relationships

Managing Up To Build Beneficial Work Relationships

So, is it really possible to manage up? Managing up refers to the process of using initiative and communication to build a mutually beneficial relationship with a manager or leader. For employees, this will often entail adapting to your boss’s work style and supporting their efforts and goals. They too will likely do this with their boss.

The reality of managing up is not as harsh as it sounds. No, you shouldn’t actually ‘manage’ your manager. But you should understand and value the importance of a positive working relationship with them.

Ultimately, a healthy relationship with your boss will positively impact your job satisfaction and be good for your professional growth – short-term within your role and long-term. So it’s in your best interests to make the relationship work.

Here are a number of different ways you can manage up and build trust with your boss to get the results you want.

Get to know what makes them tick

Essentially, to manage up, you need to know how to anticipate your boss’s needs, and you need to understand what they really care about if you want to get buy-in for your ideas. This includes knowing the right way to bring an opportunity or issue to their attention, they right time to do so, and their preferred method of communication. It’s important to adapt to their style where possible, rather than unrealistically expecting them to adapt to the preferred methods of those who report to them. You can pick most of this up through observation, but when you’re not sure, ask them!

Be proactive in your own development

Don’t wait for your manager to come to you to discuss your performance and growth. Engage regularly in an open dialogue about your priorities, and discuss how you’re going to monitor your own performance. Organise a regular check in for the two of you and commit to this arrangement on an ongoing basis. These catch ups will be the perfect time to share your ideas, as you should have 100% of your managers attention.

Tell them how to best use your talents

Great managers are able to uncover the unique skills and abilities of each person in their team and harness these qualities effectively. But not all managers do so. If you feel your talents are going unnoticed, share your professional passions with them and how you believe they could be put to good use. This will enable you to be the most effective team member you can be, creating value for your boss and your company.

Solutions, not problems

Managers don’t want problems, they want solutions. While it may be instinctive to point out an issue when it arises, train your mind to stop and reassess your communication first. There are too many problems for managers to solve all by themselves; that’s why you were hired. Become a solution-oriented employee and you’ll increase your value to your manager, and you’ll have a more engaged audience when you share your next big idea.

What do you think?

Successfully managing your relationship with your manager requires that you have a good understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, work styles and needs. What have you done to manage upwards effectively?

This article was written by Megan Baker and Jelena Milutinovic on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Forbes; The Happy Manager; Harvard Business Review; Inc.; The Muse 

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