How to master the art of 'managing up'

Andrew Hargreaves Resource Solutions

Good managers spend a lot of time and energy understanding their team members — for example, what kind of support they need and how to get the best out of them.

In return, good team members should similarly try to understand their managers and understand how to get the best out of them, as well. Knowing how to ‘manage upwards’ can help strengthen your working relationship and build trust. Here are four ways you can start to make your manager’s life (and yours) a whole lot easier:

Discover your manager’s working style

Finding out what makes your manager tick can go a long way towards building a successful working relationship. By understanding how your manager prefers to communicate, how they like to receive feedback, or what their biggest pet peeves are, you can adjust your own behaviour to make life a bit easier for both of you.

Your manager will appreciate you making the accommodation, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a more positive relationship with your manager.

Share more than you typically would

It’s always a good idea to be visible to your manager, but when working from home, it’s even more important. This isn’t about spamming your manager’s inbox with messages and updates (a sort of reverse micro-management) — indeed, by discovering their working style, you should understand the levels of communication that they prefer. 

Nevertheless, by keeping your manager informed about your progress, they won’t need to chase you for an update and thus have one less thing to worry about.

Build trust through your actions

Building trust is all about integrity. No one is perfect all the time, but doing what you say is one of the things that managers value the most. By delivering your work on time, or being on hand to help with additional projects, you can establish yourself as an independent worker who doesn’t need to be micro-managed.

After all, micro-management is often the result of a manager’s belief that you won’t complete your work without them checking up on you.

Remember to disagree

Your manager isn’t a mind-reader. If you disagree with a decision being made, or if you have a suggestion for how something might be improved, it’s up to you to make yourself heard. While you want to avoid coming across as complaintive, find a proper time and place for voicing reasonable and respectful disagreements.

Doing so shows that you care, and a good manager will respect and welcome alternative points of view — perhaps because your perspective had simply not occurred to him or her before.