The Ultimate Guide to Managing Up

By: | Updated: December 01, 2023

You found our ultimate guide on managing up.

Managing up in the workspace is the practice of influencing how your manager operates with you. This approach can also help shape your superior’s evaluation of your performance. Examples include building adaptability, establishing trust and collaboration, and practicing self-development. The purpose of this practice is to foster effective collaboration and alignment between you and your managers.

To learn more techniques related to this concept, check out these articles on change management podcasts, employee resilience books, and human resources.


This article includes:

  • managing up definition
  • examples of managing up
  • managing up vs managing down
  • tips for managing up

Let’s get started!

Managing up definition

Managing up involves thoughtfully working with superiors to establish a productive relationship. This process involves understanding your manager’s needs, preferences, and motivations to boost your value without taking over their responsibilities. Effective upward management benefits both you and your supervisor. You will be able to demonstrate your suitability for your role, learn from leaders’ practices, and offer dependable assistance. This experience improves your managerial skills for your future growth.

To improve collaboration, adopt strategies such as consistent communication, seeking feedback, and building trust through reliable performance. These efforts cultivate the skills necessary for effective superior management. Developing effective strategies for managing up with a long-time boss can be beneficial in strengthening your professional relationship.

Regardless of your role, mastering this concept is essential. This technique establishes a strong professional bond with your supervisor and aligns your efforts toward shared goals. Effective management of upward relationships can significantly improve the manager’s and employee’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Examples of managing up

In career advancement and personal growth, managing up has become a valuable approach for individuals looking to impact their professional journey. The practice is relevant in various work settings, both theoretically and practically. The following are actionable techniques that can contribute to your professional development.

1. Be Proactive

Proactively contributing beyond assigned tasks showcases dedication and innovation. Taking initiative, suggesting improvements, and assuming leadership roles demonstrates your commitment to your team and organization. By identifying potential areas for growth and generating new ideas, you show your proactive approach to boosting workplace efficiency.

2. Be Empathetic and Compassionate

Prioritizing empathy and compassion builds strong relationships. Demonstrating genuine concern for your manager’s well-being and acknowledging their accomplishments fosters a positive work environment. Through compassionate interactions, you create a sense of camaraderie that encourages open communication and mutual support.

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3. Build Trust and Collaboration

Fostering trust and cooperation with managers and colleagues lays the foundation for effective managing up. Actively seeking feedback, transparent communication, and offering assistance to enhance teamwork are all ways to build trust. By cultivating an atmosphere of trust, you encourage open dialogue and collaboration, contributing to a unified workplace.

4. Showcase Adaptability

Highlighting your adaptability in various work situations demonstrates versatility. Embracing change, thriving in new roles, and successfully handling unfamiliar challenges showcase your effective managing up skills. This adaptability benefits your manager and contributes to a dynamic and resilient team environment.

5. Foster Fair Treatment

Promoting equitable assignments and reinforcing fairness strengthens relationships. Providing positive feedback when your manager practices fair treatment enhances mutual respect and trust. Committing to fairness enhances morale and contributes to a more inclusive work atmosphere.

6. Develop Problem-Solving Skills

Enhancing your problem-solving abilities contributes to the ability to manage up. Analyzing challenges, proposing solutions, and seeking input from superiors showcases your ability to make informed decisions. By actively engaging in collaborative problem-solving, you contribute to innovative problem-solving processes that benefit the entire team.

7. Learn Communication Preferences

Understanding preferred communication channels and active listening improves collaboration. By exploring effective ways to seek clarification and address questions, you and your manager can communicate effectively. Tailoring your communication style to your manager’s preferences can create a smoother flow of information, contributing to streamlined decision-making processes.

8. Be Adaptable

Adapting to different supervisory styles is essential to manage up. Understanding expectations, predicting needs, and tailoring your approach showcase your flexibility. Accommodating various leadership styles demonstrates your ability to work effectively with different personalities and create a harmonious working relationship.

9. Be Goal-Oriented

Meeting performance standards and supporting teammates’ success is a manage up best practice. When you match your tasks with the company’s vision, it enhances productivity. You contribute to the overall success of the team and demonstrate your commitment to the company’s goals and mission.

10. Be Emotionally Resilient

Demonstrating emotional resilience in high-pressure situations is key. Supporting your manager during challenging times showcases your ability to handle stress and maintain composure. By remaining steady in demanding situations, you inspire confidence and contribute to a positive and supportive work environment.

11. Teach the Manager

Assisting managers with new technologies or methodologies enhances collaboration. Sharing knowledge and supporting skill development contributes to mutual growth. To foster a culture of continuous learning and development, consider offering your knowledge and guidance.

However, it is important to approach this step carefully. You do not want to appear like a know-it-all or step on your manager’s toes. Instead, it is a good idea to establish a relationship where your manager feels comfortable asking you questions about your expertise.

12. Practice Self-Development

Pursuing growth opportunities and staying informed about industry trends demonstrates dedication to improvement. Actively enhancing skills opens doors for career advancements. By committing to ongoing self-improvement, you position yourself as a valuable asset to the team. This step also contributes to your personal growth and the organization’s success.

13. Foster Innovation

Encouraging innovation while managing up means finding ways to suggest new ideas and improvements to your supervisors. It is important to communicate your thoughts clearly and respectfully. You can foster innovation by offering creative solutions to challenges and sharing your insights to help the team. This step can lead to a more innovative and productive work environment.

14. Offer Solutions, Not Just Problems

Instead of presenting challenges to your manager without any potential solutions, take the initiative to propose actionable ideas when discussing issues. This technique demonstrates your problem-solving skills and shows you are invested in finding resolutions. Additionally, managers will learn they can rely on you in tough situations.

15. Provide Regular Updates

Be sure to keep your manager informed about the progress of your projects and tasks. Regular updates demonstrate your commitment to transparency and ensure that your manager is aware of your contributions. This step also prevents micromanagement, as you will inform your superior before they ask you for it.

16. Act as a Bridge to Other Teams

When needed, collaborate with colleagues from different departments and share valuable information with your manager. Serving as a connection between teams can help align efforts and improve organizational communication. Cross-departmental work can also let projects run smoothly with less management intervention.

17. Demonstrate Initiative in Learning

If your manager introduces new processes, technologies, or tools, then take the initiative to learn about them independently. Showing you are proactive in acquiring new skills shows your commitment to staying up-to-date and contributing to the team’s success. Additionally, your supervisor will feel less need to check up on you and your growth.

18. Show Respect for Boundaries

Remember to respect your manager’s time and boundaries. It is important to avoid sending non-urgent communications during leaders’ off-hours to demonstrate an understanding of their work-life balance. Hopefully, this behavior will model how you would like to be treated in return.

Managing up vs managing down

Managing up and managing down are different but equally important aspects of effective leadership. Managing down involves guiding and supervising your team, ensuring they have the resources and support they need to perform well. On the other hand, managing up involves working well with your superiors, understanding their expectations, and communicating effectively to align with the organization’s goals. Balancing both approaches is key to successful leadership, as it fosters teamwork and helps achieve desired outcomes while maintaining a positive work environment.

Both styles are pivotal within any organization, each presenting unique advantages and challenges. Effective communication with superiors and team members is pivotal to accomplishing tasks. Adapting your approach as needed and fostering collaboration and teamwork are essential, whether managing those above or below you in the hierarchy.

Tips for managing up

This technique requires adaptability and a genuine commitment to supporting your manager’s goals and the success of your team. Here are tips to help you manage up effectively.

1. Define Your Objectives and Professional Aspirations Clearly

Communicating your professional goals to your manager is essential. When it comes to managing up, critically assessing your strengths, areas for growth, and future career objectives is essential. This process allows your manager to gain a strong grasp of your capabilities and ambitions. Based on these insights, the manager can assign tasks and provide mentorship.

2. Seek Feedback and Act on It

You can proactively ask for feedback from your manager to gain insights into your performance and areas of improvement. This technique demonstrates your commitment to growth and your willingness to adapt. When you receive feedback, take constructive action on it to showcase your dedication to continuous development.

3. Cultivate Clear Communication

Given managers’ demanding workloads, effective communication becomes a necessity. You can communicate efficiently by prioritizing clarity and conciseness in writing. For instance, begin your message by sharing your core question, idea, or requirement rather than writing lengthy emails.

4. Avoid Assumptions

When managing up, it is crucial to avoid making assumptions about your superiors’ preferences, priorities, or thought processes. Instead, focus on open and clear communication. For instance, ask questions to gain a better understanding of leaders’ expectations and concerns. This approach helps build a strong working relationship and ensures your efforts align with the firm’s goals. Avoiding assumptions leads to more effective interactions with your superiors, ultimately contributing to better outcomes and a positive working environment.

5. Balance Work and Personal Conversations

This leadership technique involves nurturing a positive, professional rapport with your manager. For the best results, aim for a balance between discussing work-related and personal matters. Building a good relationship could involve starting small talk after posing a work-related talk, such as asking questions about weekends or families.

6. Embrace Continuous Learning

It is important to keep up with industry trends, best practices, and new technologies relevant to your role. By demonstrating a commitment to staying informed and continuously improving your skills, you showcase your dedication to adding value to the organization. This proactive approach can showcase that you actively contribute to the company’s growth and innovation.

7. Foster Patience

Developing effective managing-up skills requires sustained dedication and effort. Practicing self-compassion and patience with yourself and your manager during this learning process is advisable. Mistakes and setbacks are inevitable, but rather than viewing them as failures, consider them as opportunities for growth and advancement. Active engagement and practical application are some of the most potent learning avenues. Remember to recognize that both managers and employees may need an adjustment period as they adapt to the new dynamics.

8. Understand Workplace Priorities

Being aware of the current priorities in your workplace offers valuable insights for timing when to address your needs. This step involves recognizing situations where the needs of others come first. For example, you may have innovative ideas to improve business operations, but your department is in the middle of a significant transition or acquisition. Team members are dealing with a heavy workload and depend on their managers for important and time-sensitive decisions.

In such cases, it is advisable to focus on your tasks and keep your idea for a later discussion when business is less hectic. Allowing your manager enough time to consider your proposal increases the chances of a thoughtful, well-informed decision. This approach helps maintain workplace efficiency by respecting and prioritizing tasks of greater importance.

9. Solve Problems Before They Escalate

Remember to take a proactive approach to identifying and addressing challenges as they arise. Consider potential roadblocks and obstacles that might impact your projects or team. When you notice a problem, gather relevant information, analyze the situation, and develop possible solutions. Then, present these solutions to your manager, along with the problem’s context, potential consequences, and the benefits of implementing your proposed resolution. By addressing issues early, you demonstrate your problem-solving skills and commitment to maintaining smooth operations.

10. Provide Data and Evidence

When communicating ideas, proposals, or updates to your manager, ensure you back your statements with relevant data, statistics, and evidence. This evidence can include market research, customer feedback, financial projections, or performance metrics. Presenting your points with supporting information helps your manager make informed decisions and increases your credibility as a reliable source of information. This technique also showcases your analytical skills and dedication to making well-grounded recommendations.

11. Manage Up, Not Just Report Up

To be as effective as possible, go beyond simply reporting task progress and status updates to your manager. Remember to engage in conversations that delve into the broader context of your projects and the organization’s goals. For instance, start discussions about strategic decisions, industry trends, and potential growth opportunities. Additionally, share your insights, observations, and suggestions for improvements. When you show that you grasp the broader view and actively contribute to guiding the team’s path, you establish your worth as an important resource for your manager.

12. Share Credit

It is essential to acknowledge and highlight the contributions of your colleagues and team members when discussing project achievements or successes. When presenting updates to your manager, mention the specific efforts and strengths of individuals who played a significant role. This practice fosters a collaborative and appreciative team atmosphere. Additionally, sharing credit showcases your leadership skills and your ability to recognize and celebrate the collective efforts that lead to positive outcomes.

13. Align with Company Culture

In general, it is a good idea to immerse yourself in the company’s values, mission, and culture. Be sure to understand the principles that guide decision-making and behavior within the organization. Then, incorporate these values into your work approach and decision-making process. When interacting with your manager, reference how your initiatives align with the company’s core values and contribute to the overall mission. This alignment demonstrates your commitment to the company’s objectives and showcases your ability to integrate seamlessly into the organization.

14. Stay Positive

Even when facing challenges or setbacks, maintain a constructive and optimistic attitude. In your interactions with your manager, focus on potential solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Also, present challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement. Your positive demeanor can have a positive influence on team morale, and it reflects your resilience and adaptability in navigating different situations.

15. Celebrate Milestones

It is important to take the time to acknowledge and celebrate achievements, both large and small. When updating your manager on project progress, include a brief overview of recent successes and milestones reached. You can celebrate achievements with your team by recognizing individual and collective contributions. By highlighting accomplishments, you create a sense of accomplishment and motivation within the team. This practice also demonstrates your ability to appreciate and promote a positive work environment.


By practicing managing up, you can strengthen relationships, contribute effectively, and unlock their workplace potential. This practice is about creating a cooperative and advantageous work atmosphere, not playing politics or pursuing personal gain. To succeed and progress in your career, focus on recognizing opportunities and effectively working with your superiors.

Next up, check out these articles about manager magazines, company culture blogs, building strong teams, and organizational culture.

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FAQ: Managing up

Here are frequently asked questions about managing up.

What is managing up?

Managing up is the concept of actively and purposefully collaborating with your manager to create a mutually beneficial working relationship. Analyzing your manager’s needs, work style, and expectations is crucial to aligning your work and communications with their preferences effectively.

What are the benefits of managing up?

The primary benefits of managing up include developing a productive working relationship with your boss to achieve success in the workplace. Managing up also improves the level of communication and understanding between you and your manager. By helping your manager achieve their goals and objectives more efficiently, you can improve the overall effectiveness of your work and advance your career.

What are important tips for managing up?

Some important tips for managing up include avoiding assumptions, exhibiting patience, communicating clearly, and understanding workplace priorities. Managing up is a strategic approach that can improve various aspects of the workplace, including team efficiency, job satisfaction, and personal advancement opportunities.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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