Imagine yourself in a scenario where both you and your boss feel a void in your working relationship. You’re a very hardworking HR Manager but it seemed as if something is lacking. Eventually, you figured out that you could have done better had your boss managed your talent more.

Like you, your boss is a hardworking CEO who deals with company pressures and daily expectations from the board and stakeholders. He means well and he wants you to be the best you can be. However, he thinks you’re not maximizing your potential to the fullest.

The Need to Manage Your Boss

As HR Manager of the company, it is your job to find out the different challenges of the employees and how to solve such concerns. At the same time, you want to know how you can further improve for your CEO.

Your boss deals with many complex issues your company is facing. He has far greater responsibilities not only to you, but to everyone else in the company. And he will have to make decisions that could make or break the company’s future.

You would not want to give your boss added pressure. As a manager, your job is to manage the people in your department, that includes managing up to your boss as well.

The actual problem lies in not managing your boss effectively. John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter of Harvard published a classic study about it entitled, conveniently enough, Managing Your Boss. In fact, the Harvard Business Review devoted a series of study on upward management.

The Benefits of Managing Your Boss

Managing your boss does not mean you manage him just like you do so with your  employees. Upward management means managing expectations so you work harmoniously with your boss. There are two benefits when it comes to managing your boss:

  • Managing your boss will make you both productive. You and your boss can get a lot of things done by just simply managing each other’s expectations.
  • Knowing how to handle your boss radiates a positive energy that boosts everyone’s motivation. It creates a culture of openness and productivity in the workplace.

9 Tips on How to Manage Up To Your Boss

  1. Set expectations. You must tell him what your expectations are and learn what he expects from you. This will anchor your working relationships.
  1. Understand his management style. Your boss is your resource. You must understand his personality and know his management style. From there, you adjust and adapt to it. Don’t try to change him. Instead, help him succeed by making his job easier. Tell him how he can best manage you as his subordinate.
  1. Be transparent. Keep the lines of communication open. Don’t hide anything from him that can be construed as a threat or catch him by surprise. If you have any information that requires his immediate attention, tell him about it on time.
  1. Build relationships. Be willing to collaborate because it is the strength upon which you build your relationship on with you boss. Don’t stonewall yourself with prejudice or insecurity or whatever it is that prevents you from connecting with your boss and the people around you. Connect with people. Establish a wider network.
  1. Acknowledge imperfection. We are all humans so it’s not right to demand from others. Just do the best you can. When you see something that needs fixing. tell your boss about it right away. Don’t complain to others.
  1. Keep your promise. Be honest about yourself and do only what you can. If you cannot deliver something you promised, apologize. Ask your boss for an extension ahead of time. Don’t offer promises you cannot keep.
  1. Know your job and do it well. This is the most crucial element in managing up. Know what to do and make things happen. Always prepare ahead when you have scheduled meetings with your boss. Focus on the things that matter and be mindful of the little details that may affect the whole.
  1. Be part of the solution. When you see a problem, figure out what solution works best. Recommend a solution to your boss. Whatever he decides on, execute the decision even if it runs contrary to your suggestion. Remember, at the end of the day, he is your boss and he calls the shots.
  1. Make your boss look good. This is a cardinal rule. You do the steps that lead up to a decision, and you own the responsibility for it. Don’t put your boss in a situation that would risk his reputation. Show him that you’re interested for his success.

Ultimately, the best way to manage your boss is through excellent communication.

Communicate well and communicate clearly. Set a positive tone in the way you relay your message and be a good listener. In this way you will understand your boss, his, and goals.


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