How do I get better at managing upwards?

Written on: 3 October 2019

Written by: Freya King



You should never see your boss as your enemy. Instead, consider what you can both do for each other. Just like managing your own team members, there are methods you can use to get the most out of your superiors.

Keep your promises

This should go with any working relationship, but in order to create a positive impression on your boss, you need to make sure that you always keep your promises. You can manage their expectations by agreeing realistic deadlines and only committing to what you know your team can feasibly achieve. When trying to impress, a good rule of thumb is to under-promise and over-deliver.

Understand wider business goals

Just like your team’s agenda, senior management will have their own targets that they working towards. It is likely that your manager’s goals will be directly impacted by your own, so it makes sense to work closely with them, instead of against them. Wherever possible, ask your manager how you can focus your team’s attention in order to hit wider business objectives.

Show respect

Your relationship with the higher-ups within your business will run a lot more smoothly if you can demonstrate that you respect their boundaries and value their time. Consider their preferences when communicating with them. If they like ideas being presented to them via email, then email them! If they are more of a face to face communicator, grab them at a time that is convenient to them. They will appreciate that you are making an effort to make their working life easier.

Always be honest

Don’t make the mistake of becoming a “yes” person just to appease your boss. Senior management will hold you in higher esteem if you are willing to challenge and offer your own solutions, instead of just blindly agreeing with everything they say. This same honesty should be applied to any potential issues that may arise within your department. Aim to give them full visibility, and they will offer you the same in return.

Use their knowledge

Your manager will have likely been in your position at some point, so they will have a wealth of experience and knowledge that you can tap into. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice and feedback; they will be flattered that you value their input. This guidance should help you avoid the common mistakes that they may have been through in the past.

Stay professional

Steer clear of office politics and treat everyone fairly. By displaying your professional qualities, your boss will begin to regard you as their equal. Over time, the effort you have put into building a healthy relationship with your boss will pay off. You will find that you have a lot more sway when it comes to influencing decisions, and you can use this to benefit your team.

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