Everyone with a boss wants to make the relationship as productive and comfortable as possible. “Managing up” is the term for working harmoniously with superiors to the clear benefit of all.
Fit the Role
- Many bosses manage by using criticism. Remember that it’s not personal. Understand your boss’s priorities, and smooth their progress.
- Resist making ad hoc complaints. Whining is unattractive and wastes your boss’s time. Review long-term goals to decide if an issue is worth pursuing.
- Know your boss’s preferred communication style, e.g., telephone or email, words or numbers, visual or auditory, frequent or infrequent, summary or detail. Use that style to communicate with him or her.
- Simplify your boss’s life. Keep him informed of important details, but guard him from minutia. Ask good questions when a project is assigned, so everything is clear. Promptly notify him of progress and, if necessary, delay.
- Announce successes to your boss without being self-aggrandizing or long-winded. For example, forward emails from grateful clients, and copy him on congratulatory messages to your team.
- Help your boss’s light to shine. Enhancing his reputation brings favorable notice at higher levels. Subtly reveal where credit is due, and give your boss the glory.
Take Your Advantage
- Everyone is better at some things than others. Stepping into the breach where your boss is weak builds your connections and status within the company. If you make your boss look good, everyone wins.
- Communicate your career goals. More opportunities are visible from higher up. If you’ve taken time to build trust and goodwill, your boss will be inclined to further your career.