How to Effectively Manage Up and Get Noticed at Work

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Having a positive connection with your boss can mean you’re happier at work, and it can help you develop in your career too.

With 49% of UK employees leaving jobs because of a poor relationship with their manager, managing up can help to bring you closer to your boss so you work almost in a partnership.

Managing up might seem like a scary prospect, but it can help you to get noticed within your company as a dependable and dedicated employee.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to grow your confidence and start managing up at work.

What is managing up?

Managing up is where you take a proactive approach to your role, taking the pressure off your boss to manage your every move.

When you have open conversations with your manager to see how you can support them effectively, it shows key leadership qualities, and can help you to be noticed by more senior members of the team.

Managing up also helps you increase your confidence, and lets your manager know you’re a reliable employee. You can play to your manager’s strengths, and support any of their weaknesses too.

It’s not about overstepping the line and trying to control your manager; it’s about being open and honest, developing a positive relationship with them instead.

Why is managing up important?

If you’re managing up, you’re helping the team to reach key goals and making sure everyone can do their job more effectively. For instance, asking your manager if there’s anything you can take off their plate may help relieve pressure on them.

It also helps improve communication between the two of you and can put you front of mind when it comes to promotions.

How can managing up help my career?

Managing up shows others what you’re capable of and demonstrates that you’re supportive of your boss too.

When you’re seen as a trustworthy part of the team, you’re more likely to be given responsibilities that can help you develop your skillset and provide you with more experience.

If your boss is absent for any reason, you may be able to step up and assist other colleagues, giving you experience in training others too.

It also means you won’t be overlooked by senior staff, who will know they can call on you if they need you. With this kind of visibility across the company, you’ll be able to grow and blossom in your career rather than staying in the same position for a long time.

10 tips to help you manage up at work

1) Try to understand your boss

Getting a good idea of how your boss works, and what’s important to them can help you to work together well. Try to get an understanding of what their motivations are, and how they prefer to communicate so you can help them work towards their goals and bring the team together.

2) Shout about your achievements (and others!)

When you’re part of a team, it can sometimes be difficult to get praise on an individual level. But you shouldn’t be ashamed of shouting about your achievements, and others, to highlight the amount of work you’re doing and the effort you’re putting into it.

3) Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback can be one of the best things you can do to progress in your career. As well as making time for self-reflection, it’s invaluable to get other people’s opinions on the things you can improve on. Don’t be afraid of asking for feedback from colleagues you regularly work with.

4) Be proactive

If you’re waiting for your manager to book a meeting, or waiting on instructions from your seniors, try to change the narrative a little. Being proactive and taking the initiative shows that you’re thinking one step ahead and makes you indispensable to your team.

5) Be respectful of your manager’s time

Although managing up means working on a level with your manager, it doesn’t mean you can start organising their calendar and making plans for them. While you’re supporting your manager, you still need to take their time into consideration. Instead of sending them lots of questions throughout the day, try to save them all for your weekly catch-up.

6) Increase your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is hugely important when it comes to working with people effectively. When you’re managing up, you should pay close attention to how you can best support your boss emotionally too. Have empathy for their concerns and try to build a strong rapport with them by developing your communication skills.

7) Make your voice heard

Part of managing up is having the confidence to raise concerns when you need to. If you can see problems arising or have a better idea for streamlining processes, make your voice heard when you meet with your boss. You could be giving them valuable information and they’ll appreciate your contribution.

8) Stay curious

Staying curious is essential when you’re managing up. You could ask your manager about how other parts of the business work or see whether you could shadow somebody else in the team to get a good understanding of their role. Showing an active interest in the rest of the business can help you stand out.

9) Make the most of 1:1’s

When you do have time to chat to your manager, discuss the projects you’d like to work on, and how you’d like to support them too. A 1:1 is the perfect time to show that you’re willing to work alongside your manager on specific tasks or take things off their plate.

10) Give regular updates

Your manager will appreciate regular updates on the work you’re doing, and how you’re working with others in the team to get results. While you don’t want to overload your boss with updates, letting them know how you’re getting on and whether there are any blockers can help to put their mind at rest, and they can be confident that you’ve got it all in hand.

Picture of Andrew Wallbridge
Andrew Wallbridge
Andrew is TSW's Head of Leadership & Management. He’s coached and mentored leaders and the senior management teams at international brands.
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