The best power move you can make this year is to learn how to manage your boss. In short, managing up is making your boss shine and getting what you need from them. Managing up is especially crucial if your boss is uninvolved or not tending to your work or career needs.
When done respectfully, managing up helps you build a relationship with someone in your industry and ensures that you get what you need out of your job while you're there. A lot of us millennials don't see ourselves working at the same place for years -- we tend to bounce around and explore other opportunities. Instead, utilize the resources and relationships that are available where you are now, knowing that it's temporary.
Some may say, “But it's not my job to manage my boss. I don't get paid enough to do that."
Managing up is for your personal gain. At the end of the day, your manager has someone to report to that they want to please. Do your job well and find ways to add value to make your manager look good. Plant seeds by being a hard worker and team player now, so you can reap the benefits later.
Here are a few key ways to master the art of managing up:
1. Make them shine.
The first step to managing up is to be a superstar employee -- get your work done, meet deadlines, flag issues ahead of time, and slay daily! This not only makes you look good, but it also makes your manager shine to their boss.
No matter what type of manager you have, they want to keep their job, so find simple ways to help them. See what admin tasks you can take off their plate, like printing the agendas for a meeting or copyediting documents. Pitch in so you make your manager's life a tad bit easier.
2. Understand their management style and preferences.
These psychological concepts are key elements to mastering the art of managing up. To have a better working relationship with your manager, learn their management style. Are they hands off and laid back? Or are they a lowkey micromanager who wants to know everything you're doing?
Also, understand their communication preferences and writing tone. Do they prefer to send emails or talk in person? When reviewing your work, do they prefer a digital version, a hard copy, or both? Study your manager's writing tone, especially during the first few months of working with them. Is it friendly or direct? Are happy faces acceptable or inappropriate?
Another helpful way to understand their management method is to take the DISC Assessment together to better understand each other's work styles. This personal assessment can help improve work productivity, teamwork, and communication by analyzing conflict resolution tactics, motivations, stress triggers, work preferences, and more.
The assessment analyzes where you fall on the spectrum of dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. I took the assessment with my coworkers and found that my boss and I were more similar than I thought -- we ranked high on the conscientiousness scale and I learned that he also is motivated by opportunities to gain knowledge and appreciated details and independence. Knowing his DISC Assessment helped me understand how to approach him and work with him throughout the year.
3. Check in regularly and have open communication.
One of the biggest issues that people have with their manager is poor communication. If you don't already have recurring meetings with your manager, be proactive and schedule them.
The frequency of the meetings depends on your needs and working relationship with your manager. If they are involved in your day-to-day work, you might want to meet weekly or biweekly. If they are hands off or travel often, put a monthly invite on their calendar to touch bases on everything. Even if they are busy -- they are obligated to give you time and attention when necessary.
Have a brief agenda or a few key points you'd like to touch on during your meetings, such as current work, career goals, raises and promotions, or recent events. Be prepared so you get the most of the meeting.
To build trust with your manager, it's important to have open communication. Be sure to flag issues early -- if you'll miss a deadline or be late to work, tell them as soon as possible so you aren't leaving them in a bind.
4. Be personable and seek guidance.
The key to winning people over is to have a genuine interest in their lives. Get to know your boss by allowing them to talk about themselves (people usually LOVE to talk about themselves). Work appropriate topics include hobbies, children, weekend plans, holiday plans, favorite books or podcasts, and lessons they've learned through navigating their career. If you're traveling to a city that your boss has visited, ask what their favorite restaurants or attractions were.
While some people may still be cold despite your efforts to be personable, this is usually a great way to build a good relationship with your boss.
5. Help your boss help you.
In life, but especially at work, it's important to speak up! Have an open dialogue with your manager about your career goals. Don't expect your manager to know what you want to do. If you aren't feeling challenged, or if you're interested in other projects, it's up to you to bring it to your boss. Also pick their brain about their career experiences to see if it can shape your journey somehow.
Navigating your career is challenging, but understanding how to get the most from your managers is a skill that you'll always appreciate! In what ways do you build a relationship with your manager? Share in the comments below!
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