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Suck Ups Need Not Apply

“Let’s be clear: Managing up is NOT about brown nosing, sucking up, or becoming a sycophant. Managing up is about consciously and intentionally developing effective relationships with supervisors, bosses, and other people above you in the food chain. It is a deliberate and strategic effort to obtain the best possible results for you, your boss, and the organization.”

                                                                                                                                  -Mary Abbajay, Managing Up


Difficult bosses and challenging co-workers are—and always will be—an unfortunate fact of the working life. Stewing about these people only damages our morale; and simply wishing for a better workplace is well, wishful thinking. Better workplaces happen when we make them happen. Better workplaces happen when we accept responsibility for our careers and our choices. When you manage up, you take control of your career and accept ownership of your work-life experience—especially your key workplace relationships. Managing Up is about stepping up to the challenge of controlling what you can and managing what is in your sphere of influence. It’s about making strategic choices about the key relationships in your work world.

What is there to gain? Plenty. Establishing strong, productive working relationships is the single most effective way to accelerate success in any organization. Understanding and adapting effectively to different workplace personalities and preferences helps you leverage your strengths and boost your potential.

Need more convincing? Here are our Top 5 Reasons to Start Managing Up:

  • Your boss matters. You may not agree with or even like your boss, but she has a lot to do with your success in your current position and your future career. Understanding your boss and learning to work better with him will not only keep you in his good graces, but may set you up for amazing opportunities. Please note: we are not advocating for brown nosing or being a doormat here – this is all about building trust and improving relationships.

  • Your boss isn’t going to change. We’d love to tell you that there are easy ways to improve your boss, but that is simply not true. Your boss has been rewarded for her workplace behavior and promoted into a management position – she is not likely to change now! In fact, 70 percent of managers only use one style of managing their staff. It is up to you to practice adaptive strategies and change how you deal with them.

  • Your career matters. Do you know who cares about your career the most? You do! Even good bosses don’t think about their employees’ career potential all the time. If you can learn how to have a good relationship with your boss and provide him with the results and performance he cares about, you will ultimately be pushing yourself up the career ladder. In essence, learn the art of “followership” and it will pay dividends!

  • Everybody has to manage up, so learn to be good at it. Everyone in the working world has a boss. We all report to a supervisor, have an executive above us, are at the mercy of a board of directors, or rely on clients for business. Learning to adapt to others and understanding expectations of people who are different from us is key to being successful in all fields.

  • Choice is empowerment. Feeling like a victim in your career is soul-crushing. Managing up is not about giving up, but about accepting the things you cannot change and adapting to the situation. Managing up is a choice and is all about implementing real, sensible strategies to improve your experience in your current job. The goal is to obtain the best results for you, your boss, and the organization – a win-win-win strategy. 

Now that we have your attention, the next step is to become a personality detective and discover the drivers behind your boss’s behavior and understand your own preferences. You can start managing up (not sucking up!) today by simply changing your perspective and becoming curious about your boss rather than annoyed by him. Right now, you can make a choice to be the champion of your own career and start taking note of the things you can change. Stop waiting for the unicorn and start working well with the boss you have!

Want to learn more about Managing Up? Check out our course options:

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