6 Dos and Don’ts of Managing Up

By | July 2, 2015
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Managing UpThe average employed person spends 8.7 hours a day on work-related activities. With nearly 40% of your day at work, you’re surrounded by co-workers more than anyone else. You should enjoy being around them, right?

But, as a young professional, it can be confusing and hard to figure out what sort of relationship you should hold with your co-workers, especially your superiors.

Getting to an efficient relationship with your managers takes work, patience and managing up. The idea of managing up is a “method of career development that’s based on consciously working for the mutual benefit of yourself and your boss.”

Read on to learn the six dos and don’ts of managing up to gain a competent, successful relationship with your managers, without crossing any boundaries.

The Dos

1. Keep Communication Lines Open

In order to manage up, you need to first communicate with your managers. Ask them all the nitty-gritty questions to understand how they operate.

  • What ways do they prefer to communicate (email, meetings, IM)?
  • What’s their editing process?
  • What’s their biggest pet peeve?
  • How can you best support them?
  • How do they define success?  

If you’ve been working with the same manager for a while, ask them to regroup. Discuss what’s working and what isn’t. Show your flexibility and willingness to work with them.

2. Understand Strengths and Weaknesses

You probably know what your strengths and weaknesses are, but do you know your managers’? Maybe they’re quick to answer emails, but always forget when edits are due back to you. This presents an opportunity to manage up and send them a friendly email reminder. Chances are they’ll thank you for remaining proactive and organized.

Also, don’t forget to share what your strengths and weaknesses are. Ensure strengths are put to the best use, and explore improvement areas together for weaknesses.

3. Ask About Goals and Responsibilities  

Understanding what your managers envision for the account—or even their professional career—can help you effectively manage up. If you’re aware of the direction, progress and outcomes of each project, you’ll better understand where your support fits in, and how you can further deliver value.

Don’t just mindlessly power out assignments. Instead, understand the goal of each and what your manager expects from you. Then, go above and beyond. 

Also, know the role your managers have placed you in, and ask for more responsibility if you can handle it. If you notice your managers seem overwhelmed, think of ways you can step in to take work off their plates. It will save them time, plus give you exposure to managerial activities you’ll be responsible for when you progress through positions.

The Don’ts

1. Feel Frustrated

It’s sometimes hard to work with others, especially if you’re working across accounts. You get used to one person’s methods, and then have to adapt to another’s. Instead of feeling frustrated, talk to your managers about feedback.

As noted earlier, successful relationships stem from open communication. And, communicating with your managers about issues is much more proactive than feeling frustrated or attacked. Plus, you’ll be appreciated for sharing your opinion.

2. Manipulate

Managing up is about serving mutual best interests between you and your managers—not just yourself. Don’t try to control or manipulate your manager.

Understanding your boundaries and limitations is key. Managing up shouldn’t be about self-promotion or losing track of the fact that you’re reporting to someone. Both parties should be invested in the process, without trying to use to the other to achieve one-sided goals or objectives.

3. Wait Around

Does it take your managers weeks to respond back to an assignment, or are you unsure on instructions? Always speak up.

Never wait around for someone to respond to you. It’s your responsibility as a young professional to take action if you’re assignment doesn’t make sense or you don’t understand. Ask your managers to sit down with you and discuss, if needed.

Chances are no one will deny you their time, especially if it’s going to mutually help your professional careers.

What ways do you manage up? Share your tips below.

Image Source: FutUndBeidl

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