Have you ever considered that managing your boss can positively impact an organization and an individual’s career? Well, it will do exactly that because managers need insights from those they can trust to tell the good from the bad. On top of that, having a range of perspectives from trusted individuals allows for more informed, balanced, and rational decisions.
Managing your boss, is often termed ‘Managing Upwards’ Is is about creating the best possible working relationship with your immediate superior. This will mean you need to adopt a consistently proactive approach to work and work relationships. So, if you wish to progress at work, get noticed, be taken seriously, and improve your chances of promotion, it is important to know how best to manage your boss. One suggested starting point would be to understand how your line manager operates in various work roles.
What To Look For
Start by observing how they prefer to communicate: face-to-face, email, text, meetings, formal, informal, planned meetings, or “corridor” chats. Observe how they behave in various situations, dress, time management, attitude to individual employees, team members, and interactions with other departments.
Look & Learn
By observing your line manager’s individual behavior, you can mirror them to match their style and directly improve your prospects of being heard and further involved in their daily work. Many people respond better to someone familiar, even if they are unsure why that familiarity exists. I am not suggesting you become a “clone,” but using simple mirroring techniques can result in a closer relationship in which you will become more valued than before.
Think As They Would
Managers are expected to have all the answers and not show weakness or doubt about their abilities. Well, I have news for you. They have as many insecurities and doubts as the rest of us. So before going to them with a problem and expecting them to solve it for you instantly, put yourself in their shoes and think about what they may need from you. Before any meetings, think carefully about the issue at hand, and when you meet, try and have a range of possible solutions ready to suggest. You can suggest your options and ask their opinion on which they prefer. By doing this, you can help them perform their role better and feel they provided the solution rather than you.
Another suggestion is to be proactive when dealing with your line manager. Try to provide them with information that may be useful, make an effort to chat with them over coffee, keep them updated about yourself and what is happening at work. Many managers (if ever asked) would probably confess to feeling isolated and out of the loop and would appreciate the extra contact. My boss once criticized me for not socializing enough at work and not stopping in his office to “pass the time of day.” I argued I was too busy doing my job in my office, but he wanted more involvement. This can be a tricky area, so again, spend time observing what happens all around you, how others interact at work, both with peers and their managers, and emulate what you see.
It is essential to maintain a consistent and positive attitude at work. This means do not complain, do not moan, do not whine or gossip. Save the negativity till you get home and scream at the bathroom mirror. Remember that you will always be observable at work, and you never know who can see or hear you. So be outwardly cheerful, say positive things about the organization, your peers, and your boss. Do some additional research on the industry you are in, especially the competition. Try and maintain an interest in current events so you will have something to contribute to informal conversations. Demonstrate an awareness of the business environment you operate in and show a passion for the organization’s success.
Find ways to help your line manager without waiting to be asked. You could offer to help hold meetings for them, plan the agenda, take the minutes, follow up action points and always have something to contribute for the “Any Other Business” at the end of the agenda. Please keep them in the loop regarding progress following each meeting. If your manager knows you are watching their back, supporting them, protecting them, are loyal to them, they will respond appropriately by treating you as a valued ally and peer.
However, when managing upward, there are fine margins between getting it right and making a total mess of it. You do not want to be perceived as a “yes” person. Rather than agreeing with everything your line manager may say, try and be a critical friend or a sounding board for ideas. This will maintain your credibility with your peers, which is also very important for career progression. Remember, you can be supportive, helpful, and cheerful without being the teacher’s pet.