Small and large scale businesses focus on leadership development--spending more than 14 billion dollars a year on training and coaching their management team. However, these resources are often devoted to training for managing down. We don’t often discuss managing up and the importance of having influence over our managers. A recent McKinsey study found that managing up was “50% more important than managing subordinates for business success and well over twice as important for career success” (McKinsey). In this blog, we’re going to share with you five tips to more effectively manage up and influence your manager.
Start the process as soon as you meet your manager
Managing up begins the first moment you and your manager meet, whether this is at an interview or after the manager has been transferred into your department. To start the process of managing up, you should take the time to learn about your boss. Ask questions about their leadership style, their goals for the team, as well as their expectations of you. Use this information to develop a work and communication style that gels well with theirs so you can smoothly manage up. This is also an opportunity to understand where your manager is trying to take the organization and be a proactive contributor to their vision.. By embracing your leader’s mission and leadership style from the start, you will ensure professional success for everyone.
Establish a strong line of communication
Good communication is the foundation of every strong relationship, and it is integral to professional networking and developing a positive bond with your boss. Each manager has different preferences when it comes to conversation, and it is critical to understand and adapt to your manager’s communication style for a variety of situations like simple questions, large issues, and general comments. The communication method can be different depending on what generation the manager belongs to: some may prefer text messages or emails for daily communications or face-to-face meetings for important topics. This completely revolves around your manager and their personal choices. Through establishing good communication with your manager, you’ll be able to smoothly communicate project needs, deadlines, timelines and other important topics to help guide your manager and team in the right direction.
Understand your manager’s strengths and weaknesses
It is pivotal to gain a solid understanding of your manager’s talents and areas of weakness. You can utilize this knowledge to compliment areas that your manager needs help with. It is also important to share with your manager about your own strengths. With this in mind, try to balance out your manager’s professional weaknesses with your strengths, creating a more productive work dynamic. By aligning your skills and allowing your manager to devote time to tasks they excel in, you can increase the overall efficiency in the workplace, leading to more accomplishments and higher quality results.
When presenting your manager with an issue, ensure you also come with solutions to the problem to discuss as well. This shows that you are proactively thinking about your tasks and taking the initiative to present options. Additionally, you can take initiative within your own team to make certain that important projects are being accomplished productively. Do your job well, check through your work, and confirm that final products presented to your manager are fully complete and with high quality; this helps your manager to trust you as well as the quality of your deliverables.
Communicate your professional goals and career aspirations
An integral aspect of managing your manager is communicating what you would like in terms of professional guidance and development so your manager knows how to best support you. Taking the time to discuss your future within the team, company, and even field of business can lead to a multitude of opportunities down the road. By expressing interest in your manager’s guidance and support, you are communicating your desire to advance professionally whether that be more challenging assignments or further training in new areas. In order to receive what you want in terms of development and future opportunities from your manager, you must clearly communicate your wishes to your manager and work with their guidance to accomplish your career goals.
Much like ourselves, managers need our guidance in order to be effective. The main goal of managing up is to create a healthy and positive relationship between you and your boss which fosters growth in both parties. By taking an active position as an employee, you open doors for your own professional development and advancement within the company while also creating a better work environment for yourself and your team.