The idea of “managing up” to your boss might seem like a daunting prospect. It is your boss, after all; shouldn’t they have all the answers and know what’s best? Or maybe you feel like it is not your place to challenge your boss on their decisions or to share your opinions.
Add to this the fact that maybe your boss is not very approachable, or your working relationship has traditionally been more formal. These things can make you hesitant about managing up. And what does managing up really mean?
Managing up is about doing your part to foster a healthy, respectful relationship with your manager – it is a shared accountability.
Organizations and businesses that are successful are ones that are also innovative and creative. They welcome diversity in all its forms: diversity of experience, background, culture, ethnicity, gender, disability, and more. With all these differences comes a wealth of diversity of thought, a key driver for innovation.
Now consider this: you were hired because of your unique skills, abilities, accomplishments, and perspectives. What you contribute to your workplace is important and valuable. A good boss understands that and will welcome the perspectives of each person on their team. A great boss seeks out diversity of thought and encourages their direct reports to manage up on a regular basis.
Managers do not have all the answers – they rely on a skilled team to do great work and provide their best advice to achieve organizational goals. A successful team is a sum of its parts.
The insights that you have from the work that you do daily is important. These insights can help your team to work more efficiently and can help your boss to be more effective in their role.
If you have a goal to become a manager yourself one day, this is also an opportunity to build your own coaching and leadership skills. In a one-to-one meeting with your boss let them know that you are eager to build your skills in this area. If you haven’t managed up before (or maybe they haven’t been either), this can help your manager to get on board with the idea, too. The two of you can work together to set the framework for how managing up might work.
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Managing up is a skill that you can learn and get better at with practice. Here are some tips to get started:
With intentionality and practice, managing up effectively can help you to work better with your boss and colleagues, create value for your boss, increase your job satisfaction, and help you to achieve your professional goals – it may even set you up for a promotion to manager!
About the Author
Kristin Bower, Partner Leda HR
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Kristin brings two decades of Human Resources experience to a wide variety of clients as an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) consultant. Kristin is a frequent D&I and Mental Health speaker at conferences and in workplaces and her writing has been published in People Talk and Visions magazines and the Good Money blog, among other publications.
intelliHR is a people and analytics platform helping HR, leaders and managers enhance performance, culture, engagement and retention. With powerful automation and real-time analytics, see how the platform works today.