Does your direct supervisor really trust you? If not, that could be a hindrance to your career momentum. It’s vital for your boss to trust you so that you can receive more responsibilities and be involved in higher-level decision-making. But how do you actually earn that trust? The answer lies in a process called managing up.
Managing up is all about learning how to work more effectively with your boss—ensuring two-way respect and mutual trust. It’s a valuable professional skill, and one you can develop by focusing on some of the following strategies.
Best Practices for Managing Up
Have a clear sense of mission. Rather than bringing in your own agenda, talk with your boss about his or her big-picture goals. Remember that your boss is ultimately looking for you to support that mission, and frankly to make him or her look good. That starts with understanding the goals and objectives.
Don’t let your boss be blindsided. Unhappy customers? A client who’s considering severing their relationship with you? Those are unwelcome developments, but the last thing you want is for your boss to be caught off guard by them. Take the initiative to break bad news to your boss.
Know how your boss prefers to communicate. Does your boss do better with face-to-face? Does he or she really hate taking phone calls? Is texting your boss’s favorite way to interact, or is it email? Know how your boss prefers to engage and do your best to be accommodating.
Determine how your manager likes to receive information. Along the same lines, figure out the manner in which your boss prefers to receive information—with a lot of lead-up? With supporting data and reports? Just the facts? Adapt your reporting style accordingly.
Keep up with your to-do list. The last thing your boss wants to do is have to assign you work. Keep up with your own list of tasks and add to it as needed. Show your boss that you can be trusted to stay on top of the work load.
Know your strengths. Managing up is about knowing your boss, but it’s also about knowing yourself. Be aware of your greatest strengths and seek opportunities to volunteer them. In particular, look for opportunities to remove time-consuming tasks from your boss’s plate, taking them on yourself.
Ultimately, managing up can facilitate a more positive and productive relationship between you and your direct supervisor—and, it can open the doors to career advancement.
As such, it’s a skillset worth developing—and we’d love to coach you through it. To learn more about working with an executive coach, reach out to the Loeb Leadership Development team at your next convenience.