No matter what field we choose to work in and what roles we decide to apply our skills to, the path to career success is an increasingly slippery slope. In an era where it seems that there are always way too many applicants for any job, opportunities for promotion or even lateral progression seem few and far between and far between and corporations deliberately repress our wages to insulate their bottom lines it feels as though that slippery slope is only ever getting more slippery. Matters can be compounded when you have a less than harmonious relationship with your boss.
Your boss is the gatekeeper of your career. They can give you opportunities that would be much harder to come by on your own. They can also choose to leave you stagnating in a job where you are growing increasingly frustrated and feel as though your skills are going to waste. This is where managing upwards becomes all the more important…
What is managing upwards?
Managing upwards is the discipline of forging a harmonious and productive relationship with your boss. It involves showcasing your abilities to them and making sure that the contribution that you make to the team and the organisation is noted without ever becoming a sycophant (which bosses can smell a mile away). It is essentially building value in yourself as an employee.
Take a stand against inappropriate behavior
Needless to say, being great at your job is one of the most important aspects of upward management but that’s really just the beginning. You must also demonstrate your commitment to a fair and equitable working environment in which everyone has the opportunity to be the best that you can be. And that means demonstrating that you will not tolerate inappropriate behavior (even if it comes from them). Whether that’s reporting an inappropriate joke to your HR department or helping a colleague who is being harrassed to find legal help. In order to manage upwards effectively, you need to be a bastion of the ideals of the workplace.
Show your commitment to the mission
It’s nice when everyone is on the same page and demonstrating your belief to the cause, working hard and still taking the time to look after yourself can go a long way in showing your commitment to what you as a team and an organization are trying to accomplish. Be the person who the whole team looks to for energy and enthusiasm. Be the one who always manages to find a positive way to spin a negative situation and be the one who keeps everyone motivated. Your boss and your colleagues will thank you for it.
Keep your boss in the loop
If there’s one thing that bosses hate it’s being blindsided. When something goes wrong and you know that your boss is going to get a call from an angry client or irate customer, it can be oh so tempting to simply hide yourself in your office and wait for the bomb to drop. But you can show you are the bigger person by getting out in front of it.
Talk to your boss, tell them to expect the call and explain the mitigating circumstances and you won’t get caught in the fallout.
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