Managing Up: How to Do It Effectively

Last Updated Mar 17, 2011 12:00 PM EDT

Face it: You need to manage up. At least if you want to succeed in corporate America. It's as important as getting the job done. Managing up gives your leaders a way to see the work you do in a way that will benefit you. It also creates job security. And let's be honest: When layoffs hit, the boss's favorites never gets cut, regardless of their skills and talents.

Here are five ways to manage up that will put you in line for raises, security, and a fulfilling career.

1) Don't blame your boss for anything. There is no point. Your boss is in charge and you are not. Make a note of what annoys you and tell yourself you won't do it when you are boss. (Although beware, there are no perfect bosses. Just like parenting, you will suck as a manager in your own special way.) When you manage up properly you will be able to turn your bad boss into a good boss. For you. Because you can work around your boss's foibles if you stay focused on your goals. And yes, this is even true for bosses who micromanage.

2) Don't wait for your performance review to fight for a raise. Find out the salary politics way before your performance review. What's your boss up against when it comes to approving a raise for you? What do you need to do for him to help? Who are the influencers? Start managing all of them. Your salary review will need to be approved by a bunch of people. Make sure they love you BEFORE performance review time. By the time approvals come around, it's too late to ingratiate yourself. And, if it should come down to your boss really having no power over the purse strings, ask for nonfinancial compensation, like conferences and gadgets or whatever it important to you.

3) Find out what your boss is being measured on. Your boss definitely cares more about his own salary review than about yours. The more you help your boss to meet his goals, the more likely he is to go to bat for you to meet your own goals. If you do lots of work but it's all outside the parameters of your boss's goals, your boss won't notice. Do the work that matters, and then translate that strong performance into action from your boss. This means that the person who puts their head down and gets all their work done perfectly is not smart. There is no point in being the hardest worker in the office because all work is not equal. The work that is important is the work that gets noticed. Do less work so you have more time to understand what work matters.

4) Get benchmarks early, but be open to them changing. Your boss just wants you to make a difference on the team. He doesn't really care about your performance goals, per se. He cares about his own, his team's, and your participation to meet those goals. So help your boss to keep track of you by shifting your goals to be in sync with the company's goals. Your boss will be surprisingly open to shifting goals in the name of helping the company. And you'll find that shifting makes you look more like a team player, and like your irreplaceable to your boss.

5) Be nice. Really, there is no better way to ensure a good performance review if you are well liked by your boss. People get hired for hard skills to get the job. But they get fired and promoted because of their soft skills that make people like them. So really, the performance review is a great time to solidify your relationship with your boss after a year of hard work creating that relationship.

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