12 Practical Tips for Managing Up Effectively

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You don’t have to be a suck-up to get your manager to like you. Instead, you can respect each other equally and have a great relationship – and guarantee job satisfaction in the process!

But if you’re starting your career, you’re changing companies or you don't get on with your boss and you’re unsure how to manage up, don’t fret!

Luckily for you, there are ways of building a successful working relationship with a superior (even when you don’t see eye to eye) and hashing out your differences to ensure you have a trusting and solid foundation.

To help you create a strategic plan of managing up your boss, follow these useful tips!



1. Learn to Manage Yourself Well

Many managers and supervisors waste a lot of time holding their staff’s hands. So, if you can manage to lead yourself, you’ll save your boss a lot of time.

If you’re unsure how to do this, you first need to understand what your duties are in the workplace, what’s expected from you on each task and how to complete your tasks without interrupting anyone else’s schedule.

When your boss trusts that you can get on with your responsibilities and find tasks to complete efficiently, then you’ll be left to your own devices and will be able to work your way up the ladder.


2. Identify Your Boss’s Goals

You should take the time to understand the overall goals of the company, as your job will be to work towards those goals. Your boss’s objectives will be more in line with the overall aim, so if your boss fails, then you too will end up failing.

To manage up, align your goals with those of your boss. Work collaboratively on projects and ensure that they agree with your process. Once you have your boss’s backing, you’ll be able to achieve greater things within the organisation.


3. Keep Your Manager in the Loop

Although I’ve been telling you to work independently, it’s also important to keep your manager in the loop so that they are aware of what you’re doing. You can do this by sending a quick instant message to update them on the status of your project or by working on a shared project management tool, such as Trello, where your progress can be easily tracked.

This tip is also important if you’ve messed up. There’s no use trying to hide your mistakes, because they will creep out of the woodwork sooner or later. Instead, it’s much more effective if you inform them of your mistake and how you’ve tried to rectify it. You never know – you might even need their expert advice on this one!


4. Be Loyal

Loyalty is more important than hard skills (which can be taught) in the workplace. A loyal colleague can be trusted with sensitive information and advanced projects, and they can be a great representation of the organisation. A disloyal colleague, on the other hand, won’t progress as far.

It’s important to support your boss if you agree with the way they are operating and to show your appreciation. If your boss feels threatened by the way that you act, your career will end up coming to a halt.


5. Be a Team Player

More often than not, you’ll be required to complete tasks that aren’t listed under your job description, and while the rest of your colleagues refuse to participate, consider pushing your pride aside and taking on these tasks. Your boss will appreciate your efforts, and they will reward your team player qualities.

Professionals that get an all-rounded and better understanding of how the business operates often end up being the ones that progress the most within their career.


6. Value Your Manager’s Time

Your manager’s time is precious, so be sure that you, firstly, identify whether you need to discuss an issue with them or if you can figure out the answer by yourself. Secondly, if you do need to convene with them, go prepared with a list of questions and any supporting documents.

If you’re also discussing any issues that have come to light, be sure to take along a suggestion of solutions to consider. After all, you don’t want to add any more problems onto your boss’s already very full plate! This shows that you’re proactive and that you can use your initiative in tricky situations.



7. Understand Your Boss’s Strengths and Weaknesses

By understanding your boss’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to leverage your skills and offer your help in the grey areas. You’ll also be able to anticipate their needs and offer a helping hand before it’s even asked of you.

For example, if you can see that your boss is struggling to meet a deadline because they aren’t very good at using Excel, you could offer to input the information for them.


8. Ask the Right Questions

By asking the right questions, you can fully understand the needs of your manager, and you will effectively work towards building a strong upward relationship. Many people often fail to ask questions in fear that they are bothering their supervisor or manager, but how can you complete a task well when you don’t fully understand the instructions?

On the contrary, asking questions will show that you’re proactive and that you care about eliminating any issues before they arise. Remember: bosses frequently forget minor details as they assume their staff already know about them.


9. Build Strong Relationships in the Workplace

As well as building strong relationships with your colleagues, it’s just as essential to establishing a connection with your boss. You should get to know a bit about their personal life and be able to relate to them beyond a project.

When you do so, you’ll be at the forefront of their mind when it comes to decision making. You’ll both be able to understand each other’s working style and thought process, and you will be able to work more efficiently on any given project.


10. Don’t Hide Your Talents

If you’re new to a company, you don’t want to toot your horn too early on and sound like a know-it-all. Instead, it’s best to take a few weeks or months to understand the way the business works and then see where you can best align your talents.

If you truly believe that you can assist in an area that isn’t directly under your job duties, don’t be shy to let your manager know. They will only appreciate your efforts, and they will consider your help if they agree with your suggestions.


11. Don’t Overpromise

It’s best to under-promise and over-deliver rather than to overpromise and under-deliver. More often than not, workers panic and assume that they can finish a task in a fast amount of time, without factoring in any complications.

To avoid any disappointment, it’s best to commit to only one project (instead of signing up for three or four simultaneously) and then if you do finish early, offer a helping hand on the other ones. Once you get familiar with the timeframe that it takes to complete your tasks, you can then offer to take on a more significant workload.


12. Ask for Feedback

You shouldn’t have to wait for the appraisal process to ask for accurate feedback. If you are concerned about something or you require validation, don’t be shy to ask your manager for feedback. Many bosses fail to let their employees know when they are doing a good or bad job, so it’s vital to get assurance if you are unsure.

If you’re also asking for career advice, it’ll show how dedicated you are to your job, and you can discuss advancement opportunities to ensure that your career goals align with those of the company.



By employing these tactics, you’ll become a top performer in your team who is easy to manage. You can build a trustworthy reputation within the business and a great relationship with your boss, essentially helping you strive for success.

Do you have any other advice to share that will help fellow readers manage up? Join in the conversation below to share your thoughts!