The Secrets to Managing Up

Beth Miller |

Frequently when conducting team building exercises, team members will demonstrate how much confidence they have in their company and the respect they hold for their organization and manager.

Those employees who have the confidence and respect for their company, as well as their boss, often find “managing up” an effective technique to build respect from their manager who often has the authority to promote from within a company.  Managing up can be defined a number of ways, however I think that the best definition would be: the full utilization of staff, tools, and teamwork to benefit the overall effectiveness of the staff, their leaders, and the organization.

Managing up is not being a yes man but being viewed as a person with confidence in their ideas and principles.  This technique works most effectively when you understand that the most important thing is success for the team and your manager.  So if there were an issue and your manager needed assistance, an employee demonstrating  the skills of “managing up” would be the first person she would seek help from.

What can you do to start “managing up”?

Do not be the “yes man”
This means making decisions based on what is best for the company, not appeasing your manager.  If you make honest decisions and give honest answers you will more than likely earn the respect and trust of your manager. When you disagree, ask questions to gain further understanding before making a decision that may contradict your manager.

Understand Style
When you understand your manager’s style i.e. how they like to get things done, what is important to them when they make decisions, and the level of work quality they demand, then you have the knowledge to help them. And in turn they will have the confidence in you.

Ownership
This not only means taking ownership of your mistakes, but also taking ownership of your successes.  Taking ownership of what you do means taking complete ownership of your work, while at the same time seeking out more responsibility and leadership. It demonstrates that you are accountable and you don’t pass the buck.

Be transparent
If you make yourself a truly “indispensable employee” your manager will likely come to you for opinions and answers.  Be honest.  If you are asked, “What is the issue with the communication between me and my employees?”  Have the courage to give an honest answer.

Make your manager look good
When you are able to assist your manager to perform better in the organization and be successful, then there will be more opportunities for you in the future. She will remember how you have assisted and give you more responsibilities because she has confidence you can get the job done. So always be looking for opportunities to enhance her reputation  as well as your own.

Managing up, when done effectively can work to both your advantage as well as your manager’s, but also for your coworkers and your organization in general.  Don’t be afraid to speak up, take ownership, say no, be honest, and help out.

What are some ways that you as leader could encourage your team to become “manage uppers”?

Additional References:
7 Ways to Manage Up – Penelope Trunk
What It Means to ‘Manage Up’ – Wall Street Journal – Elizabeth Garone

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: Ambrozjo

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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