Being a manager takes certain skills - the ability to be organized, strategic, and a good multitasker (just to name a few). Depending on how large of a team the manager is overseeing, being able to be good at all of these things can be challenging. A good employee, however, can often be an asset to their manager by managing up. Haven’t heard this term before? Well, to keep it simple it means to help your manager in getting tasks done. A Wall Street Journal article referred to the concept as “stretching yourself,” of going “above and beyond the tasks assigned to you so that you can enhance your manager’s work.”
The best way to start the process of managing up is by understanding how your boss works and what makes them tick. Issues will inevitably come up at your office or within your team, so it’s best to know how to approach your boss with these things. This will also be helpful when presenting new ideas as well. If you can read your manager’s stress level and know they are overwhelmed by their workload, bringing some shiny new idea to their attention (and likely more work to their plate) may not be the best time to do so.
Managing up will also help you in getting things checked off of your to-do list. If you need approval from your boss on something but have not heard back from them, it is appropriate to send them a reminder email with an urgent flag if time is pressing (Caution: do not overuse the urgent flag or no one will take your emails urgently!). A friendly reminder to your boss will show them you are on top of things and in the long run make your team more efficient.
The best skill to master, however, is to learn how to be an honest source of help to your supervisor. Managing up to your boss does not mean sucking up to them. It means that you are a valuable part of the team. So, go ahead, show them who’s boss!