How to Better Manage Up

How to Better Manage Up
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Managing Up
As appropriate, most management training programs are focused on preparing new managers to manage their team. But, at the same time, it’s important to understand that interactions with your boss matter too. You need to learn how to better manage up.

Successful managers know how to forge effective relationships both with those below and those above them. To help you and your team be successful, it is crucial that people managers proactively put themselves in a position to get the positive attention and support required to learn, grow, and perform.

Your Manager’s Point of View
Fundamental to establishing any good relationship is empathizing with the other’s point of view. Think of your manager as just a step above you, with similar concerns and responsibilities. Your boss needs you to perform and, like you, must rely upon more senior managers for upward mobility and support.

Your boss’ reputation and success, like yours, is dependent on the success of their team, the support from their boss, and the ability to collaborate across functions and teams to get work done.

They, Too, Are Only Human
Rather than be intimidated by your boss, try to focus on what you have in common as you both strive to succeed together. If you can view your boss as a potential ally in your corporate journey, you will be able to better manage up.

How to Succeed
Now with a healthy, empathetic attitude toward your boss, you can become a better direct report by:

  • Doing Your Best Work
    Just as you expect the best effort from your team, your boss expects and deserves your best effort. Make sure you understand how your boss’ success is measured so your work strategies are fully aligned.
  • Making Your Value Visible
    While no one likes a self-promoting show off, don’t hide your accomplishments. Be sure your boss knows about the success of your team and how that contributes to their success and that of the organization as a whole.
  • Taking the Initiative
    The worst bosses do not empower their teams.  The best bosses welcome insights from those who report to them. Don’t hesitate to offer your thoughts in a respectful, timely, and meaningful way.

    Often, you will have a perspective that your boss lacks. You are closer to the frontline and may well have suggestions that will improve decision-making, systems, and processes in unexpected ways.
  • Believing in Yourself
    The timid don’t survive well in the corporate world. You will need to take some calculated risks. Just remember that you will have to assert yourself if you want to be noticed.

    To engage your manager as your advocate, show confidence that you belong, can learn, and are capable of growth beyond your current position.

The Bottom Line
As a new manager, are you overly focused on managing down? This could be a mistake if you want to perform at your peak and grow in your role. Understand that managing up is as important as managing down and sideways.

To learn more about being an effective manager, download 5 Management Misperceptions that Slip Up Too Many New Managers

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance