The Art of Managing Up

The Art of Managing Up

They’re your boss, your up line, your manager, your CEO, your leader… Is this relationship out of sync, at times fraught with frustration, workload overwhelm and poor communication? Do you constantly feel confused by your boss’s behavior and frustrated at their decision making? There’s an art to managing your boss, it’s called managing up. It’s a vital skill to have in your professional tool belt to make working life that much more enjoyable and effective. This skill requires a few key moves, strategic communication, a shift in mindset and let’s face it… precision and timing.

First and foremost, get crystal clear on their expectations. Know their standards and importantly, know their why. Why they do what they do? Why do they turn up to work each day? What makes them tick? Knowing a person’s drivers, their values is key to knowing what motivates them. This is crucial when managing your relationship with your boss. Know their deliverables. Know how you can contribute to making them ‘look good’.

Every leader craves and always appreciates their staff anticipating their needs before they even know they need it! This type of skill is developed when you take the time to really get to know who you’re working for or reporting to. Observe their body language, take note of their communication style particularly if they’re a ‘non-waffler’, notice their likes and dislikes when presenting reports or documents and pick your timing.

A crucial and enviable skill to add to your professional tool belt is, pick your timing. Make it your business to know what they roughly have on for the week. If you know they have board papers preparation due by Friday, know your timing to gain approval on something, the best time to interrupt them (if really necessary at all) because maybe email is the best form of communication for the majority of the week. Did a particular deal fall through that day? Then maybe it’s not the best time to start discussing why you can’t get your project finished or why you’re completely overwhelmed. Pick your timing. Meetings scheduled in advance with agenda and point of discussions are a great key move rather than constantly showing up in their office. This shows and displays that you respect their time.

Succinct communication is always appreciated in a busy work environment. Leave the waffle in the kitchen! Know your bosses distracted face. Know your boss’ ‘ I just don’t have time for this today’ face! Ensure emails are quick and to the point and respect their space if the office door is closed. When needing a quick answer on a particular issue, preface the conversation by saying, ’ I just need 5 minutes of your time, I’ll be really quick as I know you’re busy’. Then take only 5 minutes! The benefits of managing up are so many and varied. Managing your boss effectively can improve your relationship, aid your understanding of their mindset as well as alleviate frustration. This is a learned skill but vitally important if you want to have continued success in your professional career.