5 Tips for Managing Up
Influence is one of the most powerful tools of an effective leader.
Influence is a skill that can be developed even without an official leadership position with a tactic called “managing up.” Managing up, if used effectively, can build trust, create mutual respect, and add value to your team.
Managing up is often called “influencing up” too. Understanding the goals and communication style of your boss can make you a huge asset.
However, it’s important to recognize that along with the power to influence comes the responsibility to wield it with respect. Dale Carnegie once said, “There are those in this world with whom you have earned significant influence; they are a gift and a responsibility.”
Here are 5 things to think about when managing up:
1. Understand their goals
Why do they act the way they do? What are their priorities? Learning how to speak your mentor’s language will make your relationship easier and much more mutually beneficial. This process takes time, patience, and a lot of listening. Ask plenty of questions to gain insight into their thought process throughout the week. Take time to understand their perspective and how they spend their energy – this will allow you to position yourself as an incredibly helpful mentee or apprentice.
2. Speak their language
Once you begin to understand how they function, you can put it to work immediately. Do they appreciate a brief, focused email with zero fluff? Don’t ask them out to “grab coffee so I can pick your brain.” Do they schedule their afternoons down to the minute? Don’t stop in unannounced for a quick chat after lunch. Each person is unique in how they function productively, so be ready and willing to adapt your communication style in favor of a more successful relationship.
3. Be a problem solver
There are two types of people in this world – problem identifiers and problem solvers. If you are faced with a messy, difficult situation, your mentor or supervisor will not appreciate if your contribution consists of a list of each roadblock or snag. While framing a problem can be beneficial, focus on providing solutions to the problems you encounter. As a problem identifier, your team will see you as a value and not a burden. If you can both identify problems and build solutions, you will quickly become invaluable.
4. Be honest and trustworthy
Mistakes never get better with time. Part of maturing as a leader is understanding how to cope when you make a mistake. Do not cover up problems when you create them – own up to mistakes before they become worse, and always maintain honesty and dependability.
5. Make your boss look good
If you already understand their goals and speak their language, you have a pretty good idea of where they fall short. Build on their strengths and fill in the gaps where they fall short. Is your boss disorganized and often a little late to appointments? Send a quick email reminder a few minutes before a call with the agenda attached.