If you’re thinking about how you can make the most of next year, chances are that you want to see yourself advance in your company or your career at large. One of the best ways to get where you want to go faster is by managing upwards. It's a hard thing to acknowledge but your boss is probably under a ton of stress and pressure. Right now managers are experiencing increased employee dissatisfaction after a year of mass layoffs and budget constraints. They’re trying their best to be better managers through these tough times. When you manage upwards, you help both of you to have a better working relationship while making yourself indispensable.
What does it mean to manage up?
According to the Harvard Business Review, managing up requires you to be the most effective employee to yourself, your manager, and the company. That might sound like a lot of people-pleasing, but that’s not what we mean. Nor do we mean you should judge or try to change your manager by going over their head (yikes!). Instead, managing upwards the healthy way means that you’re in touch with your values—which are hopefully similar to that of your manager and company—and you are helping your boss to steer the ship by being a more effective team member. Managing up helps your career and your professional ability to communicate in the long run, making you a memorable go-getter in the office.
So, how can you manage up in 2024?
Tip 1: Invest in regular communication with your manager
Establish a weekly or monthly check-in where you go over the status of projects as well as bigger-picture items. Frequency is not as important as quality—you don’t want to waste time shooting the breeze (though it’s fun). Come to your meetings with items you want to discuss as well as potential solutions you’re kicking around. Ask for advice and listen to what they have to say. It’s a two-way street, too—you can effectively manage upwards by filling in your manager on how you work best and like to be managed. If they ask you for feedback on their management, provide your thoughts respectfully. Build the working relationship over each meeting.
Tip 2: Always be honest and forthcoming
It’s never effective to hide your mistakes or overlook a major roadblock that you can see coming. Be sure to keep your manager updated on these types of issues before they become bigger problems. You’ll be helping, not only your manager but also the entire team to steer clear of problems before they arise. Being forthcoming also includes personal issues that you may need to take time to solve. You don’t have to tell your manager every detail—but when something hindering your progress, it’s important and healthy to let them know. This way you can work out a resolution where you and your manager can work together to lighten your load.
Tip 3: Ask how you can help
Just as your manager can lighten your load, you should seek ways to lighten theirs. The quickest way to get promoted is to make yourself indispensable. From getting to know your manager’s career goals to their ongoing, seemingly endless tasks, be proactive in asking how you can help support them. You’ll be gaining new skills for yourself, becoming a partner for building solutions, and showing how you can support in ways that your team may not have expected. All of which can lead to a promotion. At the same time, you’ll help free up time for your boss to focus on their other urgent tasks and personal career goals.
Tip 4: Stay positive and proactive through change
Perhaps the most supportive thing you can do for your manager is remain empathetic and cool under pressure. When they let you know of difficult changes coming to the company, react by offering support and taking on what you can to get your team through this tough time. An effective employee recognizes that business can change in a heartbeat and it’s important to remain resilient. Work to alleviate stress, stay positive, and take each day as it comes by offering your help wherever needed.
Looking for a position where you can be an effective employee in 2024? We may have your next gig.