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Managing your boss: how to get the best results for you and your company

Written by: Jennifer Baker
Published on: 26 Jan 2016


Research shows nearly 65% of people leave their jobs because of their boss. Over the years the majority of my clients cite these as their frustrations: “Doesn’t listen, cancels our one-to-ones, micro-manages, doesn’t trust me, I’m not acknowledged or praised, he or she is quick to criticise if, and that’s if, my boss delegates I’m dumped on at the last minute.”

Upward management is one of those skills that some do either very well or not at all. When done well, both the manager and employee work as a team, ensuring each other is informed and addressing problems in advance. When done poorly, both manager and employee are not only ineffective but also frustrated due to mistakes and surprises that can give rise to conflict.

To manage upwards we’re not talking about being submissive or obsequious. It’s about understanding and managing expectations.

So, what to do?

  • Know your boss:
    Develop and establish a working relationship with him or her. Understand how your manager reacts to certain situations. What motivates and demotivates them? What are their priorities? Is he just venting or is he really mad? Think before you react or jump to conclusions.
  • Communicate:
    Does your boss want the detail or need you to get straight to the point? Some managers only want you to involve them when there are critical items to address. Others like to be given routine updates. Even if it is not the way you would communicate that’s fine. What you have to learn is how to adapt to the other’s style.
  • Present solutions:
    Managers, as a general rule, don’t like complainers. Make sure when you highlight a problem that you also bring a potential solution or different options
  • Deliver:
    Always deliver your commitments and promises. If you are given an unrealistic task or deadline, state the reasons why it’s not realistic, but don’t be negative - be constructive.
  • Stand up for yourself:
    But avoid confrontation! Unless it’s an issue of safety or discrimination, don’t threaten or go over their heads.

Remember, most failures in managing upwards arise from misreading what the other manager wants from you. Managing upwards is about getting the best results for you, your boss and the company.


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