Want to progress professionally? Learn to manage up


How ‘managing up’ will help springboard your career and drive positive business outcomes.

When we discuss management its generally in the context of managing employees or more junior members of a team, however the greatest business leaders put as much emphasis on managing up and sideways as they do down.

Management is a complex beast and every individual needs to find a management style they feel comfortable with. However, many fall at the first hurdle by believing that management is based purely on instructing staff under their command. The truth is in order to become successful it’s essential to manage everybody around you from the office intern to the CEO.

So how should you ‘manage up’ for positive business outcomes?

Set your own targets

Setting your own targets and taking control of your progression and that of your team gives you greater ownership of the business and your function within it. Leave a gaping hole and senior managers will fill it for you, perhaps with unattainable targets and poor direction.

Critically, when you set your own targets you must be prepared to hold yourself accountable. Report to senior colleagues, even if they don’t ask for updates; push yourself professionally; and set milestones for your team. Your effort will be recognised and rewarded.

Give constructive criticism

Nobody likes an office ‘yes man’ and it’s certainly not the way to earn the respect of your peers and senior colleagues. In a business environment those around you will admire and appreciate honesty, feedback and constructive criticism when necessary. By providing considered responses managers can help steer the business in a positive direction.

Be proactive

If business owners and senior executives feel as though they have to hand hold managers and consistently steer them through business decisions then those managers are unlikely to progress within the business or have their suggestions implemented.

To gain the respect and attention of senior colleagues, managers need to be proactive in their approach. Making suggestions, compiling strategies, outlining business plans and setting targets will give senior managers confidence in your ability.

Share the concerns of your employees

Any business owner worth her salt will understand that employees are a company’s’ greatest asset. Managers who fail to communicate the concerns and frustrations of their employees further up the chain of command will eventually become un-stuck as people leave, cracks begin to form, and the business suffers as a consequence.

While no business owner likes to hear their employees are unhappy, in the long run early intervention and timely positive change could save a situation getting exacerbated. Furthermore, business owners and senior executives will appreciate the honesty of managers on the ground who have the confidence and tenacity to communicate concerns quickly.

Provide solutions

Managers have been afforded a certain level of responsibility and resultantly business owners and senior executives will expect those managers to step up to the mark when it comes to finding solutions to problems. There is nothing more frustrating than a manager bringing a problem to the table without having given the solution any thought whatsoever.

Furthermore, as a manager finding a solution that suits your team is far preferable to a solution concocted by senior and perhaps detached members of staff. What’s more, you’re far more likely to be able to manage the situation and return positive business outcomes if you have ownership of the solution in the first place.


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