A Tactical Guide to Managing Up: 30 Tips from the Smartest People We Know - Deepstash
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Managing up - How to manage your boss

Managing up - How to manage your boss

The relationship between a manager and their report is a two-way street: navigating the road falls on both parties.

Some managers are easy to get along with, while others can feel near impossible. However, there are several strategies you can use to manage up:

  1. Leave your assumptions at the door.
  2. Hone your delivery for communication that comes through clearly.
  3. Boost your chances of hearing 'yes' to your ask.
  4. Get comfortable with feedback.
  5. Set the tone in your1:1s
  6. Share your impact the right way.
  7. Build lasting rapport and trust.


310 reads

Leave your assumptions at the door

The biggest reason people can't manage up is that they don't understand their boss's job. You only see a small part of what your manager does.

  • Regularly align on these two questions: What is success for me personally? What is a win for my manager's team?
  • Show your work. It's about knowing what your boss wants, then ensuring that you provide them with a steady drumbeat of the things they care about.
  • Understand what is your manager's most urgent priorities, then adjust accordingly.
  • Focus on what's keeping your manager up at night and identify what you can take off their plate.


125 reads

Hone your delivery for communication

  • Open up about your "work love language." From early on, share with your manager what motivates and drives you, including what's important to you outside of work.
  • Observe how your manager listens and processes inputs. If he stops listening halfway through describing a problem, switch to your proposed solution first.
  • Calibrate to match your manager's involvement. Share your team's wins, and ask for feedback on challenges.
  • Communicate early and often.
  • Don't get stuck in your ways of doing things.
  • Focus on OKRs to ensure you know what's important to your manager.


116 reads

Boost your chances of hearing 'yes' to your ask

  • Leave some breadcrumbs. Don't hoard information until you feel you have all the answers. Anything complex needs multiple exposures for someone to internalise the concept.
  • Create a shared understanding of the problem. Share information you have and consider alternative paths.
  • Don't bury your requests. Write regular email updates, including project updates, team wins or personal progress. But don't mix requests in. Treat it separately.
  • Always do your homework. Include two or three options and create a table with pros and cons.
  • Keep communication open.


129 reads

Get comfortable with feedback

  • Feedback should be ongoing and not be left to a formal discussion during performance reviews.
  • Allow positive feedback to come through louder. When you receive constructive criticism, try to stomach it even if it first rings false.
  • Don't just try to please your boss. Push back if you believe it is in the company's best interest. If your manager dumps a task on you, mention all your other priorities on your plate and ask where this new task fall.
  • Train your manager on how to treat you. E.g. don't answer emails after 7 pm or at weekends.


108 reads

Set the tone in your 1:1s

You likely got a regular 1:1 meeting with your manager. While they can feel more obligatory than critical, meetings are a powerful tool to build trust and up-levelling your impact.

  • Ensure that the shared agenda and notes are pre-populated with topics you want to discuss plus necessary context.
  • Ask a new manager what they care most about, their biggest challenges, your role and responsibilities, and their pet peeves.
  • Give a bird's eye view before going deep on any topic.
  • Grade yourself on alignment. After a meeting, ensure you know what's top of mind for your manager.


79 reads

Share your impact the right way

Share your impact the right way

  • Give regular updates. Written asynchronous communication is vital in the remote world. Managers can read at their leisure and comment async rather than live discussions.
  • Send weekly "State of Me" emails to your boss. Share what you're doing, what you plan to do, and what you've done. Include current priorities, things on your mind, and blockers you need help with. Using a template can make it easier to digest.


82 reads

Build lasting rapport and trust

  • Build rapport. You don't have to be best friends to build rapport. However, show interest. Pick a few topics you feel are common ground, such as kids or a shared hobby.
  • Get tactical with building empathy. Assume positive intent. Check assumptions and ask questions to get clarity on how your manager is thinking. Summarise what you're learning to ensure you understand their point of view.
  • Understand that your manager is likely a mentor. They see the good and bad and provide guidance and direction. A sponsor can indirectly help you manage up. They see your potential and can sway a manager.


90 reads



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