Managing Up: The Antidote To Bad Bosses

More than the title of a famous comedy flick—horrible bosses are serious trouble. Those who worked for leaders who displayed narcissistic and psychopathic traits reported higher incidences of depression and lower job satisfaction.

Bad managers are a woe for businesses too. One estimate places the yearly cost of lost productivity due to poor management to be between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion!

Now, we know most leaders aren’t psychopaths. But with managers being the top reason people leave jobs, surely it’s time to improve our relations with our bosses?

Managing up is a survival skill. It promotes business success and is found to be even more critical than managing subordinates. It also leads to better job satisfaction which is vital for your wellbeing.

Ready to improve your working relationship with your manager? Follow these five tips on how to manage up:    

Start with yourself

As with any relationship, it’s easy to see other’s faults. Before trying to overhaul how your boss is, pause and reflect on yourself. Are you aware of any weaknesses, work preferences, goals and pressures that cause friction with your manager? Can you do something about it?

Know your manager

You can’t solve a problem without knowing all the variables. The same goes for your manager. If you don’t understand them, you can’t hope to influence them towards a better working relationship.

Observe your boss’ work style, decision-making approach, and communication preferences. Then see how you can tailor your actions and outputs to match what resonates with your manager.

Communicate proactively

Loop your boss in on what’s happening and always highlight what’s in it for them. Deliver valuable information, something they can use to make decisions, take action, solve a problem or support your team. If you make it a point to share something beneficial, your boss will keenly listen to what you have to say.

Do your best

To be clear, managing up isn’t about currying favour with the boss. The best way to gain your manager’s respect and develop a good relationship is still to let your work speak for itself. Remember, it’s not just your immediate supervisor who needs to see why you’re valuable. Build credibility by always giving your best.

Stay positive

Leaders want solutions, not problems and positive people at work. Show a positive attitude towards your boss, and they might return the favour. Complain less, be pleasant and respectful, avoid office politics and never bad-mouth your manager to colleagues (if you need to, rant all you like when you get home!).

It takes a lot of courage and self-control to manage up, but results will be worth it. You’ll be happier at work, reduce your stress and get along better with your manager.