How Learning to “Manage Up” Can put you on the Track for Promotion


We are all looking for great insider information that will help us achieve our career goals.  Sometimes the information is setting right in front of us and it takes someone to point it out.

Although Managing Up is not always a concept clearly understood by many, most all of us have heard about it to some degree.

To clarify so we can quickly move into the good stuff, here is my definition of “Managing Up”:

Working for mutual benefit of you and your boss. The process of teaching your boss how to manage you and effectively managing your relationship with your boss.

With that definition in mind, let’s look at 2 key elements of this definition that will put you on the fast track to a promotion:

  1. Mutual benefit
  2. Relationship management

Mutual Benefit:

Strangely enough when most people are doing a job, they rarely think about the job of the boss.  The boss has the difficult task of satisfying those above them while getting the most out of you.  Pesky people that we are, we tend to stray from direction and are really fairly demanding.  This situation can make the job as manager a delicate balancing act.

When an employee has the unique perspective of listening and learning the priorities and demand being put on their boss, and then doing something to support those goals: the boss has pure gold.

Put another way: Pay attention to what’s important to the boss that you can support.  Then deliver like your next promotion depended on it.  Because it does.

Relationship Management with the Boss

All too many people are in awe or intimidated by the boss.  BTW, it shows.

The boss is a human just like you, has all the same motives and needs that you do.  The only difference between you is that their job includes authority for bigger decisions.


When you form a relationship with the boss it doesn’t instantly mean you turn them into a BFF.  It means you take an interest in the boss and get to know them at a deeper level than you might otherwise.  As with any relationship you have, you have things in common that allow you to get to know the other person and draw’s you together for reciprocity.  All relationships have reciprocity at its core.

Granted the standard manager/employee reciprocity is that the boss pays the employee for the work they do.  But as we know, there are varying depths to relationships.  A deeper relationship with the boss will allow you to anticipate their needs easier. A well-managed relationship can do some dazzling things like faster promotions simply because you know a bit about how they tick (and respond).  It’s like becoming a business partner.

Discover more about how to manage both the bad boss and good in my upcoming webinar on April 27th: “Managing Your Bad Boss”.  Sign up now to claim your free spot!

About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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