Managing Up For Success

Unless you’re very fortunate (or very, very new to the workplace), you’ve probably had a bad boss. However, when you incorporate “managing up” into your daily work routine, you can not only mitigate some of the difficulties of a bad boss but also improve your working relationship and even skyrocket your carer path.

According to the Harvard Business Review, managing up “means being the most effective employee you can be, creating value for your boss and your company….not sucking up.”

What Is Managing Up?

Managing Up is making your manager’s job easier by anticipating their requests and augmenting their own responsibilities. Done well, managing up can improve your work relationships and make you an indispensable part of your organization. When you better understand your manager’s goals and expectations, then you can tailor your work to help meet those goals. Remember, managing up means working together for the good of the team, the department, or the division.

Being confident in your abilities and decisive when matters come up that are within your ability to handle means that you remove some of the minutiae from an overloaded manager. Most people, therefore, respond better to those who help them under stressful situations.

How Can Managing Up  Makes a Manager’s Job Easier?

Proactive employees make any manager's job easier, and if you are a veteran in your position or industry, you probably understand what your tasks should include, as well as other things to do to make sure that your department runs smoothly. While some duties may not be explicitly spelled out in your job description, taking on additional work without being asked, or beginning each shift without asking for direction shows that you’re confident and capable in your role.

Learning to be proactive means taking responsibility for the success of your department and understanding the priorities. When people focus too much on what isn't their job, often, important deadlines or priorities fall through the cracks. When you take action to ensure that projects are on schedule or customer needs are attended to, even if it’s not directly asked of you, this is part of managing up.

Improving Your Communication Style

Managing up can only be successful when you understand your boss’s communication preferences and management style. Some people are more “hands-on” than others and may prefer to work alongside their employees to get the job done. Other managers wish only for updates at critical phases of certation projects. Still, other managers may be either collaborative, asking input from the team, or micromanaging, wishing to oversee every detail. Knowing what your boss will look for can help you be prepared for questions about project progress or specifics of certain customer interactions.

Once you understand your boss’s style, you can adapt your communication, which can include email-only updates, daily “check-ins” in person to sum up your progress or performance, or detailed reports of facts and data.


Managing up can help improve your carer potential and job satisfaction. It only takes a little effort on your part to be proactive and mimic your manager’s style and communication to effectively manage up. Plus, understanding how to make your team run smoothly contributes to its overall success.