Managing Up Or Down?

managing up down

managing up down

In Harvard Business School article: How to Succeed With Your New Boss (2002), Michael Watkins writes:"Managing up is as important as managing down."  From my own experience and drawing from stories of many of my clients, I say, it's almost the same thing.

Managing up is a big catch phrase these days.  The concept centers around the efforts of your work supporting the ones that you report to (aka "a job well done").  It is also often confused with managing up's dirty cousin: manipulation, ruthless promotion of self-interest and kissing up.  As usual, we are coming back to intentions and authenticity.

If part of your value system is being excellent at your job, great rapport and gaining the respect and the confidence of your boss is essential. If another part of your value system is advancement, you will naturally be interested in positioning yourself as well as you can.

Managing up is a valuable skill set for most anybody.  Whether you are a team member, business owner, manager, spouse or parent, figuring out how to support and enhance someone else's results is always beneficial.

What does managing up really mean?

  • Get to know your boss.  What are her priorities and objectives?  What is he trying to accomplish in the organization?
  • How does she communicate best?  Email?  Phone? In person?
  • What does he need to consider your input?  Data?  Circumstances?  Intuition? Emotions?
  • Find out what you can do to help him be more effective in his role.  Information?  New projects?
  • Take initiative and offer help where you see it needed.
  • Ask thoughtful questions, keep learning and seek to understand the bigger picture.

Interestingly enough, all those concepts work just as well for managing down.  Knowing your team members and understanding their motivational style, will help you to get the most performance out of them and to support their growth. Understanding their communication preferences will make sure you get heard.  You get the idea.

Up or down, it all amounts to managing relationships and having the intention to do your best and considering the best interests of everybody around you.