A career gets hot when you ‘manage up’

Manage upBeing a good manager of your boss is a skill that can propel you and your organization forward, but how and when do you take the lead with your supervisor? That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum:

“I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the concept of ‘managing up’ and how I should be more aggressively working with my supervisors, and even leading them toward decisions, so I can get ahead. Do any admins out there have examples of what they’ve done to be more like a manager of the people above them instead of just reacting to their needs? And did the result you wanted?” — Martha, Instructors’ Assistant

We asked some experts for their advice on how to manage up effectively.

Managing up can be relatively easy if your boss is open to advice; but even if he’s not, you can learn to take the lead, says Chavaz Kingman, a corporate trainer and executive consultant. “In order to properly and politely manage up you have to be confident in your knowledge of what your boss’ role is and how that role interacts with other departments,” Kingman says.

When you know these things well, you can offer to reach out to others and make recommendations to your boss to help take some things off his plate, Kingman says.

Another way to manage up is to identify ways to save time and money, says Dawn Roberts, owner of Dawn Roberts Consulting. “When you clearly tie your activities back to the business’ bottom line, you’ll be able to open your boss’ eyes to some things they may not have originally seen, influencing them and proving your value at the same time,” she says.

To help your boss make better decisions, you must understand his and your company’s priorities, says Hallie Warner, an executive assistant and chief of staff at Hergenrother Enterprises and creator of Lead and Assist, a blog for assistants.

“Once their knowledge and priorities are in line, an admin can start providing the right information to help with a big project, cancel a meeting that isn’t the best use of their executive’s time, discuss personnel issues with purpose or suggest they speak at an upcoming charity event,” she says. “All bosses should be so lucky as to have an assistant who is managing up.”