Managing Your Manager


The other day I was asked by the person I am mentoring, do you manage up? I thought about that for about 3 seconds, the simple answer is of course. I was told that secret many years ago, by a person that mentored me! Managing up is the best tactic for getting more responsibility and potentially more interesting work. Why? Because the boss is the one that can provide those things for you. Some people think managing up is brown nosing. Managing up is about you caring for your boss, and the result will be your boss caring for you. Here are some ways to make that happen:

Know what is important to your boss. Bosses come with what truly is important to them. If you have a boss that is a numbers person, then you have to provide numbers. Of course, you better make sure that you know which numbers are important. Numbers for numbers sake will drive the boss crazy.  If the  boss is a customer-is-first kind of guy, frame all your results in terms of benefits to customers. Spend anytime with your boss and you will easily figure out what is important. They will either tell you, show you or ask you for what is important.

Say no. Say yes to the things that matter most to your boss. Say no to everything else and your boss will appreciate that you are focused on their needs. From time to time you will have to remind your boss of everything that is on your plate (some think that the boss has a better memory than they actually do).  So when the boss asks you to do something that you don’t have time to do, ask your boss about the priorities. Working together to insure that those priority items are getting the right level of attention.

Talk or communicate like your boss. This one is a bit tricky, you will need to figure out if the boss is an email centric, heavy IM user, meeting person – whatever the work style – you will have to insure that you are making it happen for the boss.  Also, if the boss is a very hands on, detail oriented and needs to know everything that is happening – you will have to adapt to that style as well (not my personal cup of tea; but you have to do what is necessary to insure that you are successful).

Toot your own horn. Each time you do something that impacts the company, let your boss know. Send a congratulation e-mail to your team and copy your boss, which not only draws attention to your project success but also to your leadership skills. Whatever the mechanism, you need to let your boss know each time you achieve something the boss cares about.

Seek new responsibilities. Find important holes in your department before your boss notices them.
Stepping up is a good way to demonstrate your leadership. Of course, make sure that you are not letting the day job suffer because of it! I have seen a couple of folks, really struggle with too much on the plate and losing focus on the important stuff. (Go back to the top of the list!)

Help out other team members. One way to insure that you are not brown nosing your way to the top, is to insure that you are really focused on the overall team’s success. Your success comes with the teams success. Too many folks, seem to forget that having a strong boss’s team is equally as important as the team you lead. Spending time with your peers will go along way to team success – than attempting to distance yourself from those peers.

Any others?