Managing Up

Industry Matters Newsletter

Managing up can mean establishing a good relationship with your boss, leveraging your personal and position power, showcasing your successes and your team to your boss, and more. In this course, leadership consultant and best-selling author Roberta Matuson tells viewers how to manage up so they can maximize their careers and progress in their organizations.

You can’t manage your boss without having a strong relationship from which to build, and at the current rate of turnover in most organizations, you have to build that relationship quickly. Part of this relationship-building involves understanding your boss’s management style and preferred method of communication. Once you’ve decoded that management style, you can begin to establish a more open relationship with your boss, expressing what you’re thinking and feeling while being honest and respectful. 

According to Matuson, a strong relationship with your boss can also be built by demonstrating confidence and consistency, standing your ground and admitting when you’re wrong. Avoid making fatal mistakes when you build this relationship such as mistaking your boss for a friend or breaking the chain of command and going over your boss’s head. Establish trust with your boss and maintain it—don’t lie and don’t break their confidence.

In addition to your boss, good relationships with the people around you will help you effectively manage up. These relationships are essential for establishing personal and position-based power within the organization. If you don’t think you have power based on your position, remember that you can build personal power by establishing trust with your colleagues. Relationships are often the informal way that work gets done.

Once you’ve established power in your organization—personal and position-based—you have to work to keep that power. Matuson suggests that you continue to broaden your network across the organization, present your own work and volunteer for visible projects.

Matuson suggests you also practice self-promotion to make sure you move up in the organization. One method is to keep a record of your accomplishments to make sure you can speak confidently and readily about your successes. Your work doesn’t speak for itself—you have to promote yourself and your work.

It’s hard to get noticed in a sea of good employees—but if you establish a solid relationship with your boss, volunteer for visible projects and tactfully talk about your accomplishments regularly, you can manage up and maximize your career.