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We all understand that building our careers is our responsibility. However, over the course of our professional lives, we push the onus of our careers on to others. And these others are usually our bosses. 'Managing up' or managing your boss is a concept that urges us not to be dependent on such external agents and hands over the reins of our career back into our hands.

But I see even further significance of 'managing up.' Successfully 'managing up' is necessary for all those who wish to advance in their respective roles. It helps bring the focus back to the vital factors to success.‍

Managing up also opens up opportunities to learn new skills and advance. According to LinkedIn, 94% of employees claim to stay longer at a firm that offers learning opportunities.

Well, this is a fantastic statistic from the 'on the job learning' perspective. Learning initiatives not only make an individual more focused on their deliverables. They also impart skills to make them more effective in current and future roles with higher responsibilities.

"When you have a micromanager [or any other stereotypical] boss, we can either complain about it and get all bitter, or we could decide actually to give that boss what they want." – Mary Abbajay

I also believe that managing up helps drive the significance of collaboration within a team or between a boss and their team member. Employees who are good at managing up are in constant touch with their bosses for updates and reviews- generally over an organizational communication tool like Empuls.‍

As per a study by the Queen's University of Charlotte, about 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as very important for employee development.

Well maybe, it's time that we realize that it's not just the employees who need support and guidance - our bosses do too. The concept can only work if there is a certain level of trust and transparency between the boss and the employee.

Stats on choosing CEO from within or out of the organization
Source: HBR

A study of executive turnover in the top 1,000 U.S. companies shows how managing bosses is a challenge for executives. The annual turnover among senior executives seems to increase dramatically when the new CEO - especially from outside the firm, joins - showing how significant ‘Managing up’ is.

As humans, we get attuned not to seek help from those who show dependency on us. Managing up allows us to become more human and work together for mutual benefits and in the more significant interest of the organization.‍

What can you do to have an effective ‘managing your boss’ experience?

Explore these seven smart ways to manage your boss:

1. Learn about your boss

For any relationship to be cordial, the involved parties must understand each other and know each other as the people they are. The same applies here. Put in the effort to understand your boss, what they are good at, where their vulnerabilities lie, or when they naturally seek assistance.

In short, about their personality traits – the good and the not-so-good! This awareness will prepare you to deal with them amicably and help them more deeply. That said, ensure that your boss does not perceive your offer of help and support as 'stepping on them' or as an intent to out-show them. Having a quick one-on-one catch-up chat over office communication tools like Empuls can help nurture such a relationship.‍

2. Maintain and strengthen your relationship

There is much trust that goes into making and managing work successfully. If you know a great deal about your boss, it puts a big responsibility on you to not misuse any of this information. Build trust, credibility, and dependency but acknowledge the presence of your boss in the hierarchy. Make sure not to cross the line.

Remember - managing up is not showing down the boss but helping them develop your skills.

3. Know your boss's KRAs

Why? Because your KRAs are derived from your boss's KRAs, and theirs from that of the organization. This knowledge ensures that all the efforts are synchronized and heading in the same direction.

With deliverables lined up, having a clear sight of priorities will be a blessing. A team channel to discuss team and individual KRAs over engagement platforms like Empuls can ensure that you and your entire team are on track with collective KRA progress.

4. Maintain adequate communication

Whether it is good news or bad – keep them informed. Client escalations, change in the delivery dates, revision in expected results, all of it. There can't be anything as wrong as being blindsided.

Not knowing the critical matter under discussion can jeopardize your boss's work dilute their credibility, and surely you wouldn't want to be the reason for all that to happen.

Build a relationship with your boss, ensure you keep them informed in time to face the situation, and appear to be informed. An Empuls workgroup is the best, non-invasive way to update your boss and keep your team informed on the progress of your tasks.

5. Offer support as needed.

It is essential that you know or can anticipate the need at your boss's end for this to happen. Be prepared to offer support. Remember, timely assistance goes a long way. It says a lot about your ability to think quickly, act swiftly with a keen eye for detail, and right use of common sense.‍

6. Pick additional responsibilities

Own your work and do your first task right. This task can be discussed with your boss and would add great support. It also talks a great deal about the sense of accountability at your end.

Meanwhile, make sure that your regular tasks are complete. It will be unfair to wait for follow-up or reminders to complete your previously defined tasks.

Additionally, planning will allow you to pick some additional assignments which can enhance your learning curve, expose you to knowledge, and provide real-time experience.

Be it a presentation or a proposal, take the initiative and try your hands on it.

7. Be your boss's mentor

Sounds big, right! We all agree that bosses evaluate their team's strengths and assign tasks best suited to an individual's strengths. For the areas of development, they do everything from mentoring to getting you nominated for training.

Why not reciprocate by giving voluntary feedback?

Reciprocating is an excellent way to contribute to your boss' success by helping them analyze themselves, capitalize on strengths, and work on areas of improvement. It would be a great gesture to work with them in the areas they lack, which forms an integral part of managing your boss.

“Leadership is all about perception; if leaders do not know how they are perceived, their performance will suffer.” - John Baldoni, Author of Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up

8. Be genuine

Have the right intentions to help your boss and at the same time gain learning exposure and strengthen your relationship. Be unadulterated when giving advice. Create proper dependency. Focus on the long-term benefit of this association and don't get lured with short ones and hamper your brand name.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a healthy working relationship based on mutual admiration, learning, and beneficial dependency?

Each day is full of promising opportunities that allow you to propel not only forward but also genuinely contribute to the progress of your boss' mental health and career. After all, when they move forward, you move forward. Make your succession plan. Take control of your career progress. Build strong relationships, get the leaders to recommend you for THAT dream role.

Helping your boss succeed will help you accelerate your learning and growth!

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Taruna Lohmror

Taruna Lohmror LinkedIn

Taruna Lohmror is an HR practitioner and expert from Bengaluru, Karnataka. She has expertise in Talent acquisition, development, management, retention, L&D, and HR Business partnering.