Managing up resources

Last updated: June 16, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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Managing up resources
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Every workplace is made up of different personalities. You'll have to work with other team members and those in company leadership positions. If you find a workplace with a positive company culture, you'll feel good about your day job.

However, getting along with your direct manager isn't always easy. In fact, up to 75% of people find their bosses frustrating.

In some situations, there's nothing you can do about a bad manager.

It's not all bad news, though. With the right skills, you can learn to get along with your boss and become an employee they rely on. One strategy you can use is called managing up. You’ll learn to become a leader while supporting your employer.

So, how do you learn about managing up? We’re here to help. Keep reading because we’ve put together a list of managing up resources for you to try. Plus, we’ll get you started with our top tips.

What is managing up?

Managing up is about learning to work with senior leaders or those above you in the company hierarchy. It’s about making your manager’s job easier and being a productive team member.

To succeed, you’ll need to learn to communicate with your boss. Creating a positive relationship is key, and you can do this by understanding their leadership style. For example, does your boss like you to work unsupervised, or do they like regular updates?

By understanding their working style, you’ll be able to match how you work with their preference which makes for an easier relationship.

You can also ask them directly for feedback. Make sure you take it on board and you’ll stand out as an adaptable and hard-working employee.

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What is the difference between managing up and managing down?

While managing up refers to managing your boss, managing down is all about your subordinate employees.

Managing down is a skill bosses can use to get the most from their team. It’s about being a good manager and focusing on their employees rather than their own bosses.

Managers can find ways to support their staff and give them the best chance of success. They should give positive feedback and believe in their team.

There will be a focus on communication. If an employee wants to discuss an issue, the manager will have an open-door policy.

If you’re a manager, you can manage up and manage down at the same time.

How can managing up help your career?

Managing up can help your career in both the short and long term. You’ll get along better with your manager, and this will improve your time at work.

You’ll learn to be a team player and gain valuable leadership and communication skills.

If you can work with difficult managers and help them succeed, it may even lead to a promotion.

If your professional goals include changing jobs in the future, your manager will be more likely to give you a reference when you have helped cultivate a successful working relationship.

The top resources for managing up

Managing up is something anyone can learn to do effectively. There are different ways to gain new skills, and there’s a resource type for everyone.

To help you get started, we’ve put together seven resources to improve your managing up skills.

1. Take an online course

These days, you can study from home at a time that suits you. If you’re serious about improving your leadership skills and learning to manage up, an online course could be right for you.

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There’s a range of online courses to choose from. Some are quick bites and can be finished in a day or two. Others are ongoing and require a longer time commitment.

Courses can include pre-recorded videos, live presentations, written tests, and discussions with other students. They can vary in cost, and there are even free options available.

The course you choose will depend on your goals. For example, are you interested in managing up as a standalone topic? Or, would you prefer to learn new skills for a senior leadership position?

Check out these online courses

If you’re interested in studying online, check out these courses:

2. Get reading

Reading can be relaxing when you choose the right book. Non-fiction titles that cover managing up and leadership can have a positive impact on your career advancement.

You can read before going to bed, while waiting for appointments, on your breaks, or on the commute to work. If you prefer, you can choose an eBook or audiobook format instead.

Look for books with positive reviews that have been written by industry experts. Co-workers, friends, and family members may also have recommendations for what to read.

Don’t forget, you can take advantage of your local library and borrow a range of books for free. Or, you can often find discounted books online.

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Check out these books

If you like to curl up with a good book and want to learn more about managing up, try these top titles:

  • “Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss” by Mary Abbajay

  • “Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up” by John Baldoni

  • “The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks To You” by Julie Zhuo

  • “Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around” by Roberta Matuson

3. Find a mentor

The people around you may have knowledge and experience you can tap into. A mentor is someone who inspires you and supports your career goals.

Find a mentor from the same industry or someone who knows what it takes to be a good leader. A mentor could be a person who's already in your circle, or you can reach out to someone new.

If you need leadership advice or help dealing with a difficult boss, you can ask your mentor for tips. And they can give you insights on how to manage different leadership styles.

You can communicate with your mentor online, in person, or over the phone.

Check out this resource

Looking for new professional connections? Start right here at Jobcase. When you sign up for a free account, you can participate in community discussions and send connection requests to other like-minded individuals.

4. Listen to podcasts

Most of us are time-poor, so reading books or watching a video isn’t always an option. Podcasts are a popular alternative and can be good for your career development.

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Whether you’re cooking dinner, commuting to work, or exercising, you can put on your headphones and learn something new.

Managing up podcasts can help you understand leadership styles and explain how to deal with bad bosses. You can learn how to be an effective employee and use the advice in your current position.

It’s easy to listen to a podcast. You can do it straight from your web browser or through an app on your phone.

Check out these podcasts

Want to make the most of managing up podcasts? Start with these:

5. Follow industry experts

You can keep up to date with the latest trends and learn more about managing up from industry experts.

Who better to give you leadership advice than someone with experience in the area?

There are different people you can follow, depending on whom you find interesting. Most experts will have social media accounts, so you can follow them on your favorite platform.

For example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are all options worth considering. You can set alerts to get new updates and read blog posts on their websites.

We recommend choosing a few favorites. If you follow too many accounts, the information overload can feel overwhelming.

Check out these industry experts

Who should you follow? Here are some of the top leadership experts who have tips on managing up:

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6. Subscribe to email newsletters

We all use email, and you can get managing up tips straight to your inbox. Email newsletters are a convenient way to get information, and you can pick what you want to read.

Check the website before subscribing. Is it trustworthy? Are the blog posts relevant to you?

When you subscribe to an e-newsletter, they should only ask for basic information such as your name and email address. If the content isn’t what you expected, make sure you hit unsubscribe.

If you’re going to subscribe to multiple newsletters, consider creating a separate email address. It can be used just for collecting resources so you don’t clog up your everyday account.

Check out these email newsletters

Want the convenience of getting tips via email? Take a look at these popular email newsletters:

7. Watch videos

Some people are visual learners. If you like your information via video, platforms like YouTube are a good place to start.

You can watch free videos at your leisure from your computer or smartphone. There’s a range of managing up videos to choose from. We recommend focusing on popular videos with a high number of views and likes, as well as positive comments.

If you’ve already found other resources such as industry experts and online courses, video could already be part of your learning mix.

The best thing about videos is that they can be highly targeted. For example, you don’t need to watch an hour-long session on leadership. There are specific, short videos to help you with managing up and dealing with difficult bosses.

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Check out these videos

If you’re someone who would prefer to watch rather than read, here are some videos worth playing:

6 tips for managing up

Before you dive into the resources we’ve shared, we have our own advice to help you with managing up.

Here are six tips to get you started:

1. Listen to feedback

If you’re serious about managing up, you need to keep learning. Listening to feedback and making small changes will make a big difference to your workplace relationships.

Some employees have regular performance reviews. If you do get the opportunity to chat with your manager, make the most of it. Take their feedback and try not to take it personally if they flag areas for improvement.

Often, managers will make suggestions to help you be more productive or organized.

Of course, any feedback should be constructive. You shouldn’t feel discriminated against or attacked. If there’s a positive company culture and you can have a relaxed conversation, these reviews will be easier.

2. Learn to communicate

Successful leaders know how to communicate. And, good communication skills can help you deal with a difficult boss.

Work on your listening skills, and practice speaking confidently. If you work in a service industry, strong communication skills will also help you deal with customers.

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Try to be empathetic and see things from your boss’s perspective. They’re human too, and if you can learn to be a good communicator, you’ll have a better relationship with senior leadership.

Remember, bullying behavior is unacceptable in the workplace. You should treat others fairly and expect the same from your manager.

3. Put it in writing

You can make your manager’s job easier by putting anything important in writing. If you have to make a request, schedule an appointment, or give feedback, always try to leave a paper trail.

The best way to put things in writing is via email. Most companies use this to communicate, and you can follow up if you don’t get a response.

Your manager will be busy, and having to remember every detail can make their job more stressful.

When you send an email, they’ll be able to respond when it suits them, and they won’t feel pressured for an instant response. Keep your emails short, and make sure you send them to the right person.

4. Choose your timing

If you need to speak to your boss, choose your timing. One of the top tips for those who are interested in managing up is knowing when and how to approach senior leadership.

When you talk to your boss at the right time, you’ll be more likely to get a positive response.

Let’s say you’re a server in a restaurant. Trying to have a non-urgent conversation with your manager during the busy lunch rush isn’t a good idea. Instead, you can wait until the customers have left.

However, if you notice a serious problem or can see a situation getting worse, let your boss know sooner rather than later.

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As a basic example, the photocopier could be jamming paper and in need of maintenance. Instead of waiting for the problem to get worse, you can flag the issue with your manager so it can be repaired.

5. Understand the goals

Supporting your manager means understanding their goals and helping to achieve them.

The company may set goals for teams. For example, if you work in sales, there may be sales targets they expect you to meet.

Your direct manager may also have goals of their own. By listening to your boss, you can find out what their priorities are.

As an example, if you work in construction, your boss may speak a lot about worksite safety. You can look for ways to make the site safer and raise any issues with your manager.

6. Use your observational skills

By being observant and having a positive relationship with your manager, you can boost your productivity.

You can look for gaps and offer help where it’s needed. You can start by finding areas where your manager feels overwhelmed and reducing their workload.

For example, if you have some downtime and your manager is constantly taking phone calls, you can offer to take messages. Or, if they need to type some documents, you can do this for them.

If you’re a team player, this may come naturally. A good manager will appreciate your help and, when you do different tasks, you’ll gain valuable experience.

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Kickstart your career goals by managing up

Managing up is a skill you can use to have a better relationship with your boss. When you learn to work with your manager, it’ll be a happier, more productive work environment.

To help you learn more about managing up, we've put together a list of useful resources to suit all learning styles. Our suggestions include online courses, books, mentors, podcasts, industry experts, email newsletters, and videos.

Remember to listen to feedback and learn how to communicate. If you have an issue, put it in writing and approach your manager at the right time.

Try to understand their goals and use your observational skills to fill any gaps.

Want to find a new job and kick off your career? Head over to our job board. There are more articles like this one in our resource center. Check it out.

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