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October 13, 2015
Three Ways to Manage Up
Would you like to take on more responsibility in your place of employment? Many quickly say yes, but are unsure of how to do so. Some think they let their boss know they are available for more work in the right way, but then watch as another employee is given a management position. What went wrong?
When it comes to giving more responsibility, employers pay more attention to actions than words. If you want to find ways to create that next career opportunity for yourself, here are five tips that will help you to prove to your boss, without saying a word, that you are ready to move forward.
Get to know your boss. This goes deeper, obviously, than knowing their spouse’s name and if they have children. You need to take the time to get to know their personality type, their communication style, and how they want your work to be done/the results they expect from you. Understanding each of these elements about your supervisor will enable you to better assess your work and align it with how your boss would like you to work and communicate with them. (It goes without saying that the way you communicate and complete your tasks has to work for you as well, and there will be compromise here. Better to discuss this with your employer rather than guess and get it wrong, or sweep difficult issues under the rug that can fester over time.) 

Action Tip: Observe your boss for this week — really observe them instead of just having your nose to the grindstone. Get to know their work preferences. Ask coworkers for advice as well, if that would help. Then write down what you’ve learned and compare them to your own preferences. See how you could adjust your work style, without losing yourself, to better please your superiors. If after a week you don't feel like you have been able to gauge your boss’s habits, schedule a meeting with her to ask how you could do things in a way that she prefers.
Keep your boss informed. Keeping your boss informed about your projects and any team projects will help them to trust that you are on top of things. This could be informal communication (i.e., an email letting them know you have started on the project they sent last night) or formal communication (i.e., during meetings). Even a passing comment in the hall can help if they are busy but you run into them regularly. In most cases, the more you communicate with them, in a brief and efficient way each time, the better. 

Action Tip: Think about the ideal way to keep your boss informed. Do you need to send update emails at the end of each day or as you complete sections of a project, or is once a week plenty? Hopefully your boss will let you know how often they need updates on your work, but if they don’t, ask for clarification. This is part of managing up to better understand what you need to do to ensure you’re completing your tasks effectively. In the meantime, continue to send update emails, whether it’s once a week or every few days for an urgent project that has a deadline coming up. This will help them stay in the loop without having to pop into your office to check on you and make sure you’re on top of your work. Also, remember to use your judgment here. Don’t overload them with information that’s unnecessary, but err on the side of keeping them informed.
Clarify and exceed their expectations. Before you leave a meeting with them, review what was discussed to be sure it is clear and action items are well defined. If you feel you were not as clear about anything you said or they said, take a moment to ask for clarification from them, or repeat what you said in a more specific way to make sure you and your boss are on the same page. Do this during conference calls and as needed.
Action Tip: Think of one action step you can take this week to exceed your boss’s expectations. Can you finish a project a day early? Can you go the extra mile in your meeting and create a graph or another kind of visual aid? Even in small details, you can show your boss that you are capable of great things.
If any of this feels overwhelming, perhaps because your communication with your boss is less than stellar, start with this step: Analyze your current communication with your boss and answer the following questions. Do you feel like you don’t understand each other as well as you would like? Where and how does your communication typically break down? Do your misunderstandings affect your work? What could you do to improve your communication with them? Try to think of two things, even if they are small, that you could do now to improve your communication by the end of the week. 

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Guest Blogger Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her team's career coaching services. Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford to get advice on your career goals. *Mention you saw us on Talent Zoo and receive a free bonus if you purchase a product or sign up for coaching.* http://www.HallieCrawford.com
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