Managing up is an important part of work life. It means different things to different employers, I am sure, but to me it means managing the expectations of your superiors and keeping them updated on your projects and status. Communication is key.
Examples of not managing up:
1. If you are given projects by your boss and you take them on, but are already overloaded and don’t discuss prioritizing – you are not managing up.
2. If you are given a project and unable to communicate your timelines and status to your boss effectively, you are not managing up.
Examples of managing up:
1. You are given an assignment, and you are eager to start, but you are still working on two other projects for your boss, or other supervisors. You let your boss know you are eager and willing to work on his/her project. However, given your current workload, you ask your superiors to prioritize what is most urgent. I love when my staff does this!
2. You are given an assignment and are on track, but the rails fell off and you will not complete the project in time. You alert your supervisors and let them know you will not be able to complete the assignment, but will be able to complete it within X days. That is what I like to see.
3. Communication — hard to always do, but best when you do!
Other things to remember on managing up:
In a WSJ article from a few years back, a Ms. Edwards says that there are numerous strategies her clients often overlook when it comes to managing up. For example, getting to know one’s manager & and his or her style. “If you and your manager seem to be speaking two different languages, then the problem may be that you are not leaning into that person’s style,” says Ms. Edwards. “An analytical [type boss] will take exception to someone who presents an idea without data to support it. A people person will be offended in the absence of regular communication.” Knowing your manager’s style — and adjusting your own to meet it — will help you manage up, she says.
There are plenty of other easy steps you can take to become adept at managing up, according to Ms. Edwards. Important ones include: paying attention; jumping in when needed; maintaining a good attitude no matter what; doing quality work; keeping your boss informed; building relationships, trust and an information network; staying out of politics; learning the art of selling and negotiation as well as the company’s rules; and being a good follower when the situation dictates it.