For the Leader in You

Managing Up Is Easier Than You Think

Is your manager a mystery? Are you frustrated because you never seem to make your manager happy? Does it seem as though you and your manager never see things the same way?

You Can Be More Successful by Being More Strategic

Imagine that your manager relies on you, gives you opportunities, and tells the higher-ups what a great job you’re doing. The good news is that you can be more successful, impressing your manager, without having to burn the midnight oil even later into the evening. The solution is to slow down a bit so that you can be strategic about how you engage with your manager.

5 Strategies for Triumphing Over The Disconnect

  1. Identify the Differences: What is the source of the disconnect between you and your manager? If your manager is a micromanager, wanting all the details and tasks planned down to the most granular level? Or, is your manager the kind of person that never gives you enough direction? Clarify the source of disconnect. Maybe your team has completed a team-building workshop in which you explore different Myers-Briggs Types (MBTI) or DiSC, which would readily provide you with the information you need. Those of you who are MBTI aficionados, probably recognize the differences between the Perception Functions:  Sensing and iN
  2. Adjust Your Style: Once you’ve identified the differences that are the source of the disconnect, adjust your style to your manager’s. For example, if your manager is focused on details, always be ready with details. If your manager finds details tedious, relay the big picture, but no details until asked. Get the idea?
  3. Clarify Expectations: With #1 and #2 under your belt, let’s focus on what you need to work with a greater sense of purpose and success. Often, the biggest frustration between a manager and subordinate occur when they are not on the same page. To clarify your manager’s expectations, use Coaching Skills, which means asking targeted open-ended questions to gain better understanding of what your manager wants from you. For example, questions such as:
    • What’s most important about this project to you?
    • What does success look like?
    • Where do you anticipate I’ll have challenges?
    • What does the end product look like?
  4. Understand the Goal: Be sure you understand your manager’s goals and distinguish them from the strategies available for accomplishing the goals. Most managers care more about you achieving the goal rather than following rote processes. Use the questions in #3. This is different from clarifying the work product – it’s the bigger picture.
  5. Support Your Manager in Prioritizing Goals: Some of you won’t be surprised that your manager doesn’t always have priorities top of mind. Your manager just continues to hand out projects. If the work keeps piling up and you are overwhelmed, ask your manager to prioritize for you. And remember, sometimes “ASAP” can denote urgency or means “as soon as you can work it into your schedule.”  Be sure to clarify.

If you want to learn more about different Types and styles, and you’re in the DC area, join me on:

  • February 16 for Working with Different Personality Types or
  • March 9 for Tactical Leadership Skills,

Register here.

If you can’t make the February 16 program, but would like to learn your Type, access TypeCoach here.  And, check out our virtual training if you’re interested in adding to and refining your communications skills.

If you found this post useful, please share with your colleagues and friends and let us know what you’ve done to manage up. For more information about Type, please download the excerpt from my Personality Type workbook.

And, if you’d like help in understanding what’s wrong with your colleague, let’s talk!  You can reach me at or 202-449-9751.


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