A healthy relationship with your boss would benefit both parties, making work-life easier and more manageable in a long run. Expectations are usually set upon you by your Managers from your first day of work, but nobody talks about the expectations you are supposed to have for your managers.  

Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not suggesting that you start micromanaging your managers and taking over their spots, but more on ways to work with your managers so both your and their jobs are made easier. It is a skill that you would not find in any job descriptions or mention during interviews. 

If you are still confused, let’s dive into WHAT is managing up, WHY it is important and HOW to do it.

Let’s Start!

WHAT is managing up? To put it into simple terms, it’s basically managing the relationship with your managers. Managing up is when an employee takes the extra step in managing their relationship with their managers. Learning more about your manager’s active times, communication preferences and styles, or management style and aligning it with your working style, making work more productive and efficient.

Next up…

WHY is it important? Having this arrangement and awareness of your working style as well can create a strong work relationship that allows both parties to efficiently meet work needs and to grow as a team. It is also important to have a good relationship with your managers because they can determine your career trajectory.

Some people may say “Why should I manage my bosses? They know what they are getting into when they signed up for a managerial role. Why is this something I should care about?” Bear in mind, your managers are as human as you are. You don’t simply just adopt the skill of managing a team. Some managers will have prior training while some do not. All managers have their own working and communication preferences. They have their strengths and areas of improvement, just like any of us. 

“Managing Up is a skill that will help you develop strong relationships, which will increase cooperation, collaboration, and understanding between those who have different power levels and perspectives,” said Mary Abbajay, author of Managing Up: How to Move up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss. “It’s not about brown-nosing, schmoozing, or sucking up. It’s about developing robust relationships with the people who have enormous influence over your career.”  

Managing Up


Should we care about having a strong relationship with our managers? I’ll leave it up for you to decide, but if you do, there are many ways to manage the working relationship you have with your managers. Here are some of the ways HOW to manage up:

#1 Proactively Communicate With Your Managers

Proactively seek feedback on your work and proactively communicate your progress. Although some managers may be more hands-off, it is always good to update your managers about your progress at every milestone. You wouldn’t want your managers to chase you for updates now, do you? This will help build trust in knowing that you will update them on your progress at an appropriate time. 

#2 Get To Know Your Managers

Here are 4 types of personalities we may find in our workplace. Using our DJP profiling tool we have identified these personality types you may come across:- 

  • Relationship-Driven Type: Those who prioritise interpersonal connections
  • Results-Driven Type: Those who prioritise excellence and outcomes
  • Data-Driven Type: Those who prioritise facts and processes  
  • Energy-Driven Type: Those who prioritise engagement and excitement

Identify, learn and understand what are your manager’s personality is and tailor your approach towards them. This can help reduce misunderstandings, create a positive work environment and develop a more effective and productive bond. 

*Contact us to find out more about our DJP Profiling Tool! 

#3 Give Early Warnings On Potential Problems / Bad Situations

It is understandable that when something goes south, your first instinct is to try to solve it on your own or hide it. Big thumbs up if you can solve it but letting your managers know beforehand may be beneficial!  

*Note to employees: Prevention is better than cure!* 

#4 Connect With Them On A Personal Level

This doesn’t have to be too personal but your managers do have a life outside of work. Have a minute or two to talk to your managers about their hobbies, favourite café or even favourite music. Finding a common interest can help with developing a more meaningful relationship with them. 

There are no set ways how to manage up. Every manager is different, some don’t like to be questioned, and some like bonding outside of work. At the end of the day, what’s more important is to be patient and have open communication with your managers. It can help in mitigating tension between both parties and keeps them from micromanaging you.

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