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Your boss or direct manager has a big hand to play in your job satisfaction.

Whether that’s interpreted as how you feel about your job, your productivity, or the chances of you climbing up the corporate ladder – there’s always room for improvement.

Many individuals feel that there is difficulty working with their boss. And this is not always due to the boss or manager being someone who is difficult per se but is a result of employees not taking the time or giving due importance to creating that relationship with their managers.

You need to learn how to work with your manager effectively, not just for your boss, but for yourself, and even the organization as a whole.

Therefore, although there is a load of information on how best to be a leader, it is equally important to understand the role you are in and be the best there as well.

This is where the concept of managing up comes into play.

Let’s look over what it means to manage up, as well as why you should take the time to manage your manager, and even some tips to manage up effectively.

What does ‘Managing Up’ Mean?


When you look at work culture and organizations you are likely to find a lot of material whether that be articles, TED talks, seminars, etc on leadership skills and how to effectively manage a team.

However, managing upward is arguably just as important to the organization as well as for each individual’s own career.

The term managing up is also usually misconstrued, having a connotation that it requires you to be a sycophant. Again, this is incorrect.

In reality, managing upward defines the steps an employee will take in order to help improve their boss’s efficacy and efficiency.

The term refers to the attempts or processes you may take to consciously work with your superior in an attempt to gain the best results possible not only for your boss but for you and the company you work for as a whole.

Benefits of Managing Up to your Career

If you consider that the workplace is essentially a social system, it will make more sense why managing upward is so essential. After all, when you consider your career trajectory, your boss plays a big hand in how it goes.

You want to give managing up the focus it deserves so that both you and your boss can benefit. This process creates a win-win situation for you both.

You will be able to create a positive employer-employee relationship. Your hard work and efforts will be noticed which will eventually create a culture of trust so that you are assigned more responsibilities and you can develop new management skills as a result.

You improve productivity levels . Being happier and more fulfilled in your work makes you do better. As well as the fact that effectively managing upward allows you to make your boss’ life easier too. Both these things allow for increased productivity.

Improved productivity means your team gets noticed, as does your work giving a great impression to higher-ups who can take you to the next level of your job.

How to Manage Up?

Managing up is both a skill and a process and therefore there is no one way to go about it. However, there are certain tips and tricks you could incorporate into your work life to be able to build that oh-so-essential relationship with your boss.

Here are some things you can do to be able to make your boss’ job easier by essentially managing your manager.

1. Accept What your Job is

At the end of the day, you were hired to make your boss’ job easier. You want to support your boss’ success which is the success of your team and so your own success. You need to accept this to be able to make your work more efficient as well as that of your boss’.

2. Get to Know your Boss


Getting to know your boss as a person helps you communicate better as well as know what your boss expects from you.

This does not mean going on a camping trip but simply learning more about the person your boss is.

It can help to understand what your boss’s goals, perspectives, and behaviors are. By being aware of these things you can respond accordingly and create a good relationship.

This will also help you anticipate your boss’ needs. Volunteer to take over a responsibility that your manager may struggle with. You will be helping him or her out while also being appreciated for your extra efforts.

Try and accommodate your boss’ work style as much as you possibly can. This will help you create a good relationship with your manager and will definitely not go unnoticed.

3. Doing Your Job Well

This may be surprising to some, but managing upward also means managing oneself.

When you do your job well you are simultaneously making your boss’ job easier and allowing them to do their job well too.

Part of a manager’s job is to manage his or her team, and if they are able to do their tasks effectively your boss is able to easily manage his or her team.

This allows your boss to have a chance to brag in meetings with higher-ups.

Not only will you be getting noticed, if you are able to manage your own self your boss will trust you to do your own work thus allowing you to take reign over your responsibilities.

4. Share your Priority

It is beneficial to share with your manager on a day-to-day basis what your priority is. Show your boss what you achieved in the previous week as well as what you plan to achieve.

Actively communicating your progress gives you the opportunity to pinpoint and solve any potential roadblocks thus working more efficiently and getting things done faster.

Potential Types of Managers

We have talked about ways you can manage up which can be universally applied. However, you need to consider what type of manager you have to make the most out of your efforts.

There are certain characteristics that your boss may possess that will pose a challenge to you doing your best to build the relationship. These require some extra effort and unique skills.

You could have a boss that is:

  • A hands-off boss
  • A boss that is in fact a board of directors
  • A long-winded boss
  • A boss that is conflicting in his messages to you and your team
  • A boss that is undecisive
  • A boss that is all-knowing
  • A manager that you don’t see face to face due to geographical distance
  • A boss that is new and you haven’t met

Don’ts of Managing Up

If you want to effectively manage up and make the most out of the situation for you and your boss there are certain things that you can take care to avoid.

As we mentioned above managing up does not mean being a sycophant, nor does it mean relentless flattery or kissing up to your boss.

You want to ensure you are being supportive, friendly, and positive. This does not mean being a “yes man” or being unrealistic about how things are really going and simply portraying everything as being good. Make sure you are supportive, friendly, and positive in a realistic way.

Another thing to actively avoid is being involved in office politics. You want to ensure that you stay professional in your day-to-day relationship and communication with the people that you work with. Working with your colleagues daily means including a certain level of relationship management in your work life.

This means taking an active effort to treat all your coworkers and even your boss fairly.

Another thing to avoid is trying to cover your mistakes. You need to accept and acknowledge when something has gone wrong and own up to it. this may create an uncomfortable situation at the moment but your expediency will let the mistake be rectified more quickly and more efficiently.

This act will also ensure that you maintain a reputation of being honest and mature in the long run, thus creating a relationship of mutual trust.


Managing up is important for you to create a better work culture for yourself but also help you in your career.

Remember, you don’t have to be a suck-up, which usually does more harm than good anyway.

Nurture the relationship you have with your boss to be able to gain the respect of your boss for the efforts you put in to make their job easier, but you will also be top of mind for any promotions that may come up.

As we mentioned, by managing upward you provide benefit for yourself, your boss, and the company you work for as a whole. So there really is no explaining why you haven’t been doing it so far.

Get to it and good luck!

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