4 Ways to Master the Art of Managing Up

A Gallup study of more than 7,000 workers revealed that half had quit their jobs due to a bad boss. That’s why it’s important to learn “managing up”: understanding your supervisor’s needs and then exceeding them. Supporting your boss’s goals and identifying ways to work more efficiently can further both of your careers while showcasing you as a stellar employee. While it may seem counter-intuitive to manage your boss, Mashable says that taking initiative and using open communication to organize and lighten your supervisor’s workload can benefit you both. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Get to Know Your Boss

Managing up involves finding out what your supervisor wants to accomplish at the company, what values are most important to them, how decisions are made and what role you play in the big picture. It’s also about helping your boss look great to their supervisors, learning what they really care about and then making sure you deliver on that, says Business Insider.

By establishing some ground rules, such as how frequently you and your boss will meet, and setting daily, weekly and monthly priorities, you’ll both be better able to measure short- and long-term goals, says U.S. News & World Report. One way to do this is to provide a detailed outline that prioritizes tasks and deadlines to keep you both on the same page.

  1. Encourage Your Supervisor to Be Specific

Managing up requires you to obtain clear expectations and instructions from your boss. After all, in order to perform well at work, you need to know what the person evaluating you wants. For example, when you’re asked to handle something, find out exactly what that means: Should you drop what you’re currently working on to take care of that task, or is it something that can be done in a few days? To save time and avoid confusion, suggest how and when you intend to accomplish a project and ask your boss to sign off on your plan.

  1. Adapt to Your Manager’s Work Style

Not all managers work the same or have the same expectations, so, according to Business News Daily, the sooner you learn how to deliver the way your boss wants you to, the more opportunity for advancement you’re likely to see. Perhaps your boss prefers to go over each day’s agenda first thing in the morning and get an end-of-day report. Maybe they want you to delegate a list of tasks to others in the department and oversee their progress. Figure out your boss’s preferred communication method — in person, via email — and stick to that. Putting specific leadership practices into play will show your supervisor that you support their management style.

  1. Bridge the Gaps

Anticipating situations where your help is required is another facet of managing up. For example, if you’ve noticed that your boss is often late for department meetings or overbooked, offer to step in and kick them off. Or offer to take on a recurring task your manager may need help with.

Identifying back-burner projects or new initiatives where you can pitch in will help your boss trust your instincts.

Managing up does not mean stepping on your boss’s toes. It’s about becoming an employee who goes above and beyond so the entire team benefits. Once you learn to take charge of your workload, run better meetings, remove obstacles and communicate effectively, your career can advance to the fast track.

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