How to get ahead with your boss — without brown-nosing

People spend a lot of time worrying about who’s managing them, but less about “managing up.”

“‘Managing up’ is a huge skill that everybody needs, regardless of where you are in your career… it’s not brown-nosing, it’s not sucking up,” said Mary Abbajay, president and CEO of Careerstone Group.

“It’s developing a good, working relationship between you and the people who are higher up than you on the food chain, in order to get good results for you, for them, and the organization,” she said of her new book to help employees and entrepreneurs, Managing Up: How to Move up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.

Abbajay said despite bad managers, it’s not helpful to simply complain. “What this book is about is how you can take control of your career, and take responsibility for actually making that relationship work for you,” said Abbajay.

Those who can manage from above effectively, said Abbajay, are skilled in understanding the needs of each of their employees.

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“A good manager should really engage their employees and meet their employees where they are for their growth and development,” she said.

However, this is rare. The best that can be done in a lot of cases is making sure you fit your manager’s needs, adapting to the situation.

“This book is full of strategies of things that you can do to identify your boss’s needs, the style of your boss, figure out the puzzle that is your boss,” said Abbajay.

One of the strongest tactics for managing upwards, then, is to have a conversation.

“What’s your working style? How do you like to communicate? What kind of information do you need from me? Have that information, find out from your boss what it is that they want,” said Abbajay. You can then tell them what works for you.

It’s also important, however, to not resist who they are. “Look around the organization–who does really well with your boss? What are they doing, what are they not doing?” she said.