Running Your Business

What Is Managing Up and Why Is It So Successful?


  • Managing up can help you better focus on your job responsibilities and create stronger relationships with leadership

  • This tried-and-true business strategy promotes true partnerships between employers and employees

  • Remote workers will need to adapt their strategies to effectively manage up from home

Posted by October 30, 2020

You’ve no doubt heard the adage, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” While the occasional bad manager may be unavoidable, most employer/employee relationships can run smoothly with sound communication and clear expectations—and these don’t just come from the top down. By working well with leadership and managing up, you can establish healthy, productive office relationships.

But what is managing up? Not a new concept by any means, the term describes an approach to doing work that helps demonstrate value to an organization. It entails anticipating your manager’s needs and effectively tackling your duties. Not only does managing up help you show intuition and leadership, but it’s also a way to create job security and show you’re ready for growth opportunities.

Managing up isn’t sucking up to your manager or alienating other employees, though. So how can remote workers effectively manage up? And why is this approach to doing business so important?

What Is Managing Up Useful For?

Managing up requires a perceptiveness of your world of work influence. You must know your duties well enough to understand your responsibility to the larger business. It also takes understanding the world of your manager. You need to know which of your duties can best help solve their problems, which takes grasping how your role and their role intersect. Managing up helps smooth operations, but it’s especially worthwhile if you’re vying for a promotion.

That’s because it allows you to focus on tasks within your purview and become more efficient, all while earning a reputation for being trustworthy and capable—both sought-after traits in any leadership hire. Instead of running after every opportunity to prove yourself, managing up lets you fine-tune your role and create a stronger relationship with your manager. You gain a deeper understanding of their pain points and how you can relieve some of them, so it’s a win-win situation all around.

How Can Remote Workers Manage Up From Home?

In today’s indefinite work-from-home environment, how can remote employees get the same advantages from managing up and effectively help their managers? Beyond affording extra empathy and initiating more frequent check-ins, these strategies might be able to help.

1. Get to Know Your Manager’s Communication Style

Do they like emails? Are they fonder of chat apps? How much back-and-forth is too much? Get a handle on their communication preferences to stay in touch without becoming just another task in their inbox.

2. Participate in Feedback Opportunities

Have you been asked to rate your manager or provide input as part of their leadership development? Giving upward feedback or 360 review comments are essential opportunities for your manager to learn their strengths, but they also let you step in their shoes to see what they’re being graded on. Feedback questionnaires can be useful tools as you look for ways to step up and help your manager.

3. Request Directness and Respond Well to It

Often, intent gets lost and tone is misinterpreted through electronic messages, whether they’re sent via email, chat apps or text. It’s best to put feelings aside and let your manager know that you welcome direct requests and straightforward feedback, as this takes away some of the burden of trying to finesse standard work exchanges. Instead of reading between the lines, take each message at face value and you’ll earn a reputation for being a true contributor that’s easy to work with.

Managing up is a common practice for personal development and establishing sound relationships, yet it’s a term that many people are unfamiliar with. Instead of taking time and attention away from teammates and leadership, managing up works best when you add to their energy banks through a highly personalized and intuitive approach to your duties. It’s good for your business and might even help you land that dream promotion.

With United Concordia Dental’s Employer Toolkit, running a small business gets a whole lot easier. With expert guidance on benefits to educational newsletters, this resource has everything you’ll need to keep your office informed and in control of their health.

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