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Managing Up: How to Help Your Supervisor Help You

Managing UP

Managing up is a popular buzz phrase in the human resources world of the past few years. Managing up refers to being an employee that is supportive of their supervisor and brings significant value to their boss and the company as a whole. In other words, managing up is the act of doing want you can help your manager be successful. Success usually happens when you have the resources you need and use them effectively.

As you might imagine, managing up well is not always an easy task. It requires self-awareness, sensitivity, and excellent communication skills. Some general guidelines can help you communicate with your boss efficiently to ensure that you have what you need to excel as an employee.

Know yourself. Self-awareness is essential to building a positive relationship with your supervisor. Knowing your strengths and weakness allows you to ask for resources in a manner that helps you excel. Understanding your work style will enable you to anticipate opportunities for synergy with your boss and areas where you may have a difference of opinion. It also can prevent you from projecting your areas for growth onto your supervisor. Awareness gives you the background knowledge that’s needed to lay a proper working foundation with your boss.

Get to know your supervisor. Understanding your supervisor’s management style is crucial for building a positive relationship. Examples included:

Detail oriented – sometimes called “micromanagers.”

  • Hands off – a manager who likes to stay out of the details and focus on the result.
  • Verbal processors – managers who want to talk out their thoughts and ideas.
  • Big picture thinkers – supervisors who are skilled at creating a vision but not interested in participating plan to achieve it.
  • Veteran – someone who has been with the company for a long time and knows the ins and outs.
  • Mentorship oriented – a boss who see believe their primary role is to mentor and guide their employees.

Once you assess your boss, it’s possible to identify area’s where you will need to be more self-directed or times when it’s essential to loop your boss in. For example, hands-off supervisors aren’t concerned with the details of the process but are excited to hear about all of the newly created deliverable. Detail-oriented bosses enjoy having their finger on the pulse of all the activities they oversee. Looping them in at critical times or setting up weekly check-in meetings will help them fill more connected and in control of the work.

 Match your feedback styles. An inevitable part of working with others is the process of providing feedback. In a supervisory relationship, it is crucial that you understand how to communicate feedback to your supervisor. Some supervisors like a constant flow of communication, giving and receiving feedback all of the time, on an ongoing basis. Some managers like more formal methods, such as action plans or performance evaluations. Observe your boss when you can and notice when they are most receptive to feedback and when it’s not welcome.

Doing your homework on yourself and your manager will help both of you be more successful. Changing the way you think about your relationship with your boss, to one of mutual support, will allow you to have more success in your role.