• Whether our boss is a tyrant or an incompetent, whether we think we know better or just don’t like being told what to do, most of us have at some point wished we could turn the tables on them. Management Today reveals the secrets to taking charge, without your boss even noticing. See how they like it.

    Whether our boss is a tyrant or an incompetent, whether we think we know better or just don’t like being told what to do, most of us have at some point wished we could turn the tables on them. Management Today reveals the secrets to taking charge, without your boss even noticing. See how they like it.

  • MANAGING UP IS A CRUCIAL SKILL:  It is arguably one of the most important things for any ambitious go-getter to learn.. For better or for worse, your boss is the gatekeeper to your future career.

    MANAGING UP IS A CRUCIAL SKILL: It is arguably one of the most important things for any ambitious go-getter to learn.. For better or for worse, your boss is the gatekeeper to your future career.

  • START BY UNDERSTANDING WHAT MAKES YOUR BOSS TICK:  ‘Knowing who you’re managing up is the number one thing. Ask questions, observe, learn, use personality profiling tools to profile your manager,’ advises Evelyn Cotter, founder and coach at Seven Career Coaching.

    START BY UNDERSTANDING WHAT MAKES YOUR BOSS TICK: ‘Knowing who you’re managing up is the number one thing. Ask questions, observe, learn, use personality profiling tools to profile your manager,’ advises Evelyn Cotter, founder and coach at Seven Career Coaching.

  • WHAT DOES YOUR BOSS NEED?  Once you know how you can help your boss, you’ll be in a much better position to support them effectively, which will then foster a relationship that can support you. Everybody wins.

    WHAT DOES YOUR BOSS NEED? Once you know how you can help your boss, you’ll be in a much better position to support them effectively, which will then foster a relationship that can support you. Everybody wins.

  • DON’T BE SYCOPHANTIC:  Being helpful to your boss and understanding what you can do to make their life easier does not mean being a snivelling sycophant. Brown-nosing will earn contempt from colleagues and managers alike.

    DON’T BE SYCOPHANTIC: Being helpful to your boss and understanding what you can do to make their life easier does not mean being a snivelling sycophant. Brown-nosing will earn contempt from colleagues and managers alike.

  • AND DON'T BE MACHIAVELLIAN:  ‘Managing up is not manipulation, says leadership coach Cotter. 'At its best, it's well-thought out, self-aware actions centred around the strengths and weaknesses of your manager and of course, yourself.’

    AND DON'T BE MACHIAVELLIAN: ‘Managing up is not manipulation, says leadership coach Cotter. 'At its best, it's well-thought out, self-aware actions centred around the strengths and weaknesses of your manager and of course, yourself.’

  • OPEN THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION:  If you don’t think your manager is getting the best out of you, it might not be entirely their fault. You may be unhappy about something, but have you actually told them?

    OPEN THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION: If you don’t think your manager is getting the best out of you, it might not be entirely their fault. You may be unhappy about something, but have you actually told them?

  • USE TACT AND UNDERSTANDING:  You can’t go blurting that they’re doing a crap job and expect everything to immediately sort itself out. ‘Find a way to explain not only what you need but how they can supply it in a way that works with their job,' says Hywel Berry, talent network director at the Mind Gym. As with most communication, it’s give and take.

    USE TACT AND UNDERSTANDING: You can’t go blurting that they’re doing a crap job and expect everything to immediately sort itself out. ‘Find a way to explain not only what you need but how they can supply it in a way that works with their job,' says Hywel Berry, talent network director at the Mind Gym. As with most communication, it’s give and take.

  • LEARN TO SAY NO:  No is a beautiful, underrated word that shows you're confident in your abilities. If you don't have time to do something, say it.

    LEARN TO SAY NO: No is a beautiful, underrated word that shows you're confident in your abilities. If you don't have time to do something, say it.

  • TAILOR YOUR RESPONSE:  Of course, there's saying no and saying no... Some bosses demand brutal honesty. Others could see it as disloyal or a challenge to their authority. Think carefully about how you phrase it.

    TAILOR YOUR RESPONSE: Of course, there's saying no and saying no... Some bosses demand brutal honesty. Others could see it as disloyal or a challenge to their authority. Think carefully about how you phrase it.

  • LEARN TO ADMIT DEFEAT WITH GRACE:  At times, you may have to accept that you won’t get your way, no matter how firm or reasonable you are. ‘Sometimes it’s about choosing your battles,’ adds coach Cotter.

    LEARN TO ADMIT DEFEAT WITH GRACE: At times, you may have to accept that you won’t get your way, no matter how firm or reasonable you are. ‘Sometimes it’s about choosing your battles,’ adds coach Cotter.

  • OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKES:  Holding your hands up and confessing where you’ve gone wrong can be even harder than saying no. Again, you can be tactful but ultimately you need to be honest.

    OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKES: Holding your hands up and confessing where you’ve gone wrong can be even harder than saying no. Again, you can be tactful but ultimately you need to be honest.

  • BUT MAKE SURE YOU ALREADY HAVE THE SOLUTION:  ‘Most managers respect honesty and solutions. They may not be happy that a mistake has been made but if the first they hear about it is us coming to tell them as honestly as possible what has happened and that we have already created a solution for it, it gives them the best opportunity to move past the problem as quickly as possible,’ says Berry.

    BUT MAKE SURE YOU ALREADY HAVE THE SOLUTION: ‘Most managers respect honesty and solutions. They may not be happy that a mistake has been made but if the first they hear about it is us coming to tell them as honestly as possible what has happened and that we have already created a solution for it, it gives them the best opportunity to move past the problem as quickly as possible,’ says Berry.

  • START RIGHT FROM THE JUMP:  Don't just sit back and let dysfunctional relationships develop, says Cotter. Have a plan before you start the role, thinking about how you want to be managed, what your goals are, and what you need to communicate to get things moving in that direction.

    START RIGHT FROM THE JUMP: Don't just sit back and let dysfunctional relationships develop, says Cotter. Have a plan before you start the role, thinking about how you want to be managed, what your goals are, and what you need to communicate to get things moving in that direction.

  • CONSISTENCY IS A POWERFUL TOOL:  Be consistent in your behaviour – consistency is how we train people to treat us,’ Cotter says.

    CONSISTENCY IS A POWERFUL TOOL: Be consistent in your behaviour – consistency is how we train people to treat us,’ Cotter says.

  • SEE THINGS FROM YOUR BOSS' PERSPECTIVE:  You may think you could do their job with your eyes shut but take a minute to walk in your boss' shoes. Are they super stressed? Perhaps they have a boss who is even harder to please. Imagine the weight of their responsibilities. This compassion and empathy will help you to bond with your superior.

    SEE THINGS FROM YOUR BOSS' PERSPECTIVE: You may think you could do their job with your eyes shut but take a minute to walk in your boss' shoes. Are they super stressed? Perhaps they have a boss who is even harder to please. Imagine the weight of their responsibilities. This compassion and empathy will help you to bond with your superior.

  • STAY OUT OF OFFICE POLITICS:  One surefire way to alienate your boss is to get involved with office gossip. Buddying up with other disgruntled employees will make your boss feel isolated and could result in defensive behaviour.

    STAY OUT OF OFFICE POLITICS: One surefire way to alienate your boss is to get involved with office gossip. Buddying up with other disgruntled employees will make your boss feel isolated and could result in defensive behaviour.

  • BUT DON'T BE TOO PALLY WITH YOUR BOSS EITHER:  You need to maintain boundaries; it is possible to like your boss too much. Being friends with your manager could encourage them to treat you differently - for better but also for worse.

    BUT DON'T BE TOO PALLY WITH YOUR BOSS EITHER: You need to maintain boundaries; it is possible to like your boss too much. Being friends with your manager could encourage them to treat you differently - for better but also for worse.

  • DON'T SLACK OFF:  Just because your boss is difficult, or hard to please, that isn't an excuse to stop doing a good job. You put yourself in a weak position if your performance slides.

    DON'T SLACK OFF: Just because your boss is difficult, or hard to please, that isn't an excuse to stop doing a good job. You put yourself in a weak position if your performance slides.

  • ADAPT TO THE INDIVIDUAL SITUATION:  Remember that no matter how carefully you try to manage your boss, there are ultimately no text book answers. Like managing a direct report,  managing up effectively depends on the exact people and the exact situations involved. But if you have an idea how to do it in an ideal world, at least you know what to aim for.

    ADAPT TO THE INDIVIDUAL SITUATION: Remember that no matter how carefully you try to manage your boss, there are ultimately no text book answers. Like managing a direct report, managing up effectively depends on the exact people and the exact situations involved. But if you have an idea how to do it in an ideal world, at least you know what to aim for.

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Managing up: 19 ways to secretly boss your boss

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 14 Mar 2018

Images: Shutterstock

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