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Some of the most difficult-to-manage relationships in our lives are our work relationships. We don’t usually get to choose who we work with or who manages us at work. Many bosses and people in middle management are promoted not because of their ability to manage people but because of their skills, knowledge, or experience in a particular field.
So how can you cultivate the relationship with your manager or supervisor and propel yourself up the rungs at work to reach your career goals? Learning to “manage up” is a great way to form positive and productive work relationships that will open doors for you to continue to do the kind of work you’ve been hoping to do.
Managing up essentially means guiding your boss or supervisor to better work, communication, and reaching their goals. While it can sometimes have a bad connotation, managing up can actually benefit you, your boss, and your company. When you use your strengths and best work traits while working with your manager, you bring out the best in everyone and add value to the workplace.
Managing up starts with building a relationship with your boss and getting to know them. Figuring out how they communicate, their strengths and weaknesses, and learning how to support them because of it. When you make an effort to get to know your manager and ask the right questions, you are creating a collaborative environment where everyone has the chance to shine.
Asking the right questions to get to know your boss both personally and professionally can help you learn more about how they operate, which allows you to respond in helpful ways and prevent fires before they even begin. Asking questions can also show your dedication and interest in your boss and the company.
The more you are open to receiving feedback, the more opportunities you have to grow professionally. It shows you are willing to learn and grow and that you are teachable instead of thinking you already know it all. On the flip side, learning to gracefully and appropriately give feedback to your manager shows your confidence, ability to be a team player and care for the company.
The more communicative you are with your manager, the more they begin to trust you and get to know you. Clearly communicate what you are working on when you are in or out of the office, your goals, and even when you make a mistake. Learn your boss’s communication style and make an effort to communicate with them that way as much as possible. Do they prefer emails or 1:1 conversations? Are they more responsive to notes left on their desk or when you pop over to their office?
Learning how to best work with and for your manager is essential in building your career. Showing that you are a team player, an effective communicator, trustworthy, curious, and that you care about the company through finding the best ways to work with your manager creates opportunities for more responsibilities, promotions, raises, or more of your ideas to make it to the meeting room.