Managing Up: Hone Your Rapport and Excel at Work

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of learning how to manage up effectively and how to build a productive and healthy relationship with your boss. By honing your rapport and understanding, you can excel in your work life and achieve greater job satisfaction.

The Importance of Managing Up in the Workplace

Managers have a significant impact on the work environment and the productivity of direct reports. Learning how to navigate work relationships and manage up effectively can increase your job satisfaction and performance. By understanding how to manage your boss proactively, you are taking a crucial step in your career development and moving up the corporate ladder.

Benefits of Managing Your Boss Effectively

There are numerous benefits of managing your boss, including improved communication, increased autonomy, and greater job satisfaction. Great working relationships between employees and their bosses lead to increased trust and respect, which in turn can lead to more opportunity to take initiative and showcase your skills. When you and your boss are on the same page, it creates a more positive work environment that supports the success of the entire team.

What Does a Positive Relationship with Your Boss Look Like?

A positive relationship with your boss doesn’t mean you’re always on the same side or agree on everything. Instead, it reflects open communication, mutual respect, and a shared understanding of your roles and responsibilities. This type of relationship can make managing up more manageable, promote a better work environment, and ultimately lead to higher job satisfaction for both parties.

How to Start Managing Your Boss: Communication Style Matters

Effective communication is the foundation of managing up. It’s important to understand your boss’s communication style and preferred communication channels, whether it’s email, phone calls, or in-person meetings. By tailoring your communication method and style to your boss’s preferences, you make it easier for both of you to stay informed, share ideas, and collaborate on projects. This can lead to a more productive working relationship and a better understanding of your boss’s expectations and needs.

The New Manager: How to Create a Shared Understanding

When starting with a new manager, it’s essential to establish a strong foundation for your working relationship. This includes creating a shared understanding of your roles, responsibilities, and goals. Consider setting up regular meetings to review progress, share updates, and discuss any challenges or opportunities that may have arisen. This will help ensure that you and your new boss are aligned and working together effectively.

Dealing with a Difficult Boss and Bad Manager Situations

Dealing with a Difficult Boss and Bad Manager Situations

While a perfect boss would be a great addition to your work life, reality often falls short of this ideal scenario. You may find yourself facing a challenging relationship with your boss, caught up in power dynamics that aren’t necessarily productive or efficient. However, there’s no need to despair or consider the worst-case scenario—a job change. Navigating a difficult boss or sifting through a bad manager’s characteristics is an attainable skill that can further contribute to your professional development.

The task may appear daunting at first, but remember that your ultimate goal is not to change your boss’s management style. Instead, focus on effectively dealing with the situation at hand. Ascertain your boss’s expectations and align them with your work process. It’s essential to understand what your boss wants and how they want it executed. Retaining your autonomy while satisfying your boss’s requirements can go a long way to building a constructive relationship.

Communication is crucial here. Be forthright in a professional manner, without engaging in confrontations. Articulate your concerns and endeavour to understand your boss’s perspective. Patience and tact can effectively temper a difficult boss’s approach over time. Employ empathy and seek common ground where both your expectations meet. This process can also provide valuable insights into your boss’s management style, and it may not be as daunting as it originally seemed.

While managing up, it’s important to equip yourself with strategies to tackle performance reviews proactively with a difficult boss. Planning and preparation can make all the difference—focus on your achievements and demonstrate how you’ve added value to your team and organization. In case disagreements occur, disengage gracefully and revisit the situation later when things have cooled down.

Lastly, remember that no one should have to tolerate harassment or ethics violations. In case of such situations, consider involving human resources to help mediate the process. Moreover, leverage your networking skills within the organization and seek guidance from those in senior leadership positions, who may have greater experience dealing with these scenarios.

In conclusion, dealing with difficult bosses and bad manager situations will indeed challenge your resolve. However, by skillfully interpreting their expectations and cultivating a comprehensive communication style, you can navigate these waters deftly. Not only will this contribute to better managing up, but it’s also a significant stride in your career path that catalyzes your journey up the corporate ladder.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Up

In the realm of leadership and management, navigating hierarchical relationships effectively becomes as vital as developing technical know-how and deeper industry knowledge. The process of managing up, by necessity, is nuanced and critical in carving a successful professional path. Balancing this tightrope involves a series of do’s and don’t, which, when mindfully implemented, can significantly shape a beneficial and productive working relationship with your boss. Let’s delve into these essential guidelines.


  1. Understand Your Boss’s Work Style: Understanding your leader’s work style rings in as pivotal. Make it your priority to comprehend their communication style, priorities, and decision-making process. By aligning with their work style, you can anticipate their needs and communicate effectively.
  2. Communicate Effectively and Professionally: Sound and timely communication forms the backbone of any successful relationship. Be it verbal, written, formal, or casual, ensure your messages are clear, succinct, and pertinent. Be proactive in your communications by offering updates, asking for feedback, and anticipating your boss’s needs.
  3. Take the Initiative: Demonstrating initiative showcases your commitment, reliability, and leadership potential. Efficiency in self-management—taking responsibility for your objectives and meeting your targets—can significantly reduce your boss’s managerial load, resulting in a smoother and beneficial working relationship.
  4. Be a Team Player: Encourage a healthy, cooperative, and synchronized team environment. Empathy and understanding others’ perspectives can pave your way not only to manage up effectively but also to establish lasting work relationships.


  1. Don’t Overstep Your Boundaries: While managing up includes taking initiative and being proactive, it’s essential to respect professional boundaries and avoid coming off as over-ambitious or overbearing. Find the right balance in your interactions and ensure your actions don’t disrupt the office environment and your boss’s work.
  2. Don’t Neglect Your Work: While managing up, doing a great job should be your foundation. In your pursuit of creating a healthy working relationship with your boss, never compromise on the quality of your work or miss your deadlines.
  3. Don’t Underestimate Listening: Active listening goes a long way in establishing a productive two-way street of communication. Be sure you’re not always the one talking; ensure that you take time to listen, distilled from which may come insights and wisdom.
  4. Don’t Avoid Feedback: Both giving and receiving feedback are crucial for growth. Instead of shying away from constructive criticism, embrace it as an opportunity to improve. And when you offer your feedback, ensure it’s thoughtful, tactful and intended for the growth and betterment of the team.

Navigating managing up is, indeed, a dynamic process—tact and a conscious, concerted effort can make this journey smoother and more rewarding. Keeping these do’s and don’ts in mind will hopefully provide a practical direction towards building a trusted and effective relationship with your boss.

What’s Important When Creating Value for Your Boss

Ultimately, your boss wants to see that you are a valuable contributor to the team. Creating value for your boss can include achieving or exceeding performance goals, taking on additional responsibilities, or consistently displaying qualities that make you an effective employee and team player. By focusing on what’s important to your boss, you can position yourself as an asset to the team and demonstrate that you’re committed to success.

Final Tips and Closing Thoughts

In summary, managing up is a skill that can significantly impact your career and relationship with your boss. To hone your rapport and excel at work, remember to:

  • Understand your boss’s communication style and preferences
  • Be proactive in establishing clear goals and expectations
  • Set up regular meetings to share updates and review progress
  • Seek the advice and assistance of executive assistants
  • Remain professional and adaptive, even when dealing with a difficult boss

By prioritizing these skills and strategies, you will set yourself up for success and work more effectively with your boss.