Workers interested in becoming indispensable to their boss should become familiar with the concept of “managing up.” Basically, the term means to take charge of your working relationship with your manager to be as effective and efficient in your role as possible. By enhancing the manager’s work, an employee becomes a greater asset and sets herself up as a stronger candidate for promotion.
People who manage up are actively interested in making life easier for their bosses. In the process, they stretch themselves by taking on more tasks and responsibility. Their initiative stands out and is appreciated by those they serve.
“There is a good chance that your manager has 57 other things to do at any given time, leaving him little time spent actually managing his direct reports,” say Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin – president and chief operating officer, respectively, of JB Training Solutions, a workplace training and employee development company based in Chicago. “It is up to you to take charge of your assignments and own your position to show your boss that you are a capable and indispensable member of the team.”
To manage up, Karsh and Templin recommend thinking about some key questions:
How does my boss like to receive information?
How much should I involve my boss?
How can I solve my boss’ problems?
How can I influence my boss?
Finding answers may involve talking openly and candidly with your manager to learn about his communication preferences and working style. It also pays to get in the habit of thinking about situations from a boss’s perspective. “Consider biases, history and idiosyncrasies before you present anything to them. Be mindful of the correct time and place,” say Karsh and Templin. Along these same lines, work on presenting solutions rather than problems, showing your ability to think things through and come up with ideas. As you demonstrate that you are capable of not only completing assigned tasks with competence but also anticipating what actions are in your boss’s best interest, you’ll be seen as someone the company can’t do without.