Main image of article How Managing Up Can Boost Your Career

In the early years of your tech career, your manager (and their manager) are crucial figures in your development. They’ll give you the assignments that’ll teach you new skills, as well as the opportunities to ladder up your career.

Performing well gets you noticed and paves the way for more responsibility and bigger pay. By effectively managing your relationship with your boss, you can establish a productive bond that will ultimately benefit both of you. But what are the best ways to “manage up”?

Understanding Your Manager's World

Don't be a bystander when it comes to your manager. Ask them what they're trying to achieve and actively seek opportunities to be included in strategic discussions (your quarterly review is always a good opportunity to bring this up). Understanding the bigger picture helps you align your work with their objectives.

  • Takeaway: Schedule regular check-ins to discuss ongoing projects and broader company strategy.

What Does Your Manager Need from the Team?

See things from your manager's perspective. What does achieving team success look like in their eyes? Once you understand their priorities, you can tailor your contributions to best support them.

  • Takeaway: Discuss team goals openly and ask clarifying questions to ensure your efforts are driving the team forward.

Understanding the Team Metrics is Key

Identify which metrics and objectives are most important to your manager, and structure your projects and daily workflow to help fulfill those metrics and objectives. Focusing on these areas demonstrates your understanding of their priorities.

  • Takeaway: Regularly track key metrics and proactively update your manager on progress towards team goals.

Communication—Even Overcommunication—is Key

Especially in hybrid or remote work environments, communication is critical for managing up. Aim for "over-communication" to ensure your manager is always in the loop. Keep your promises, and if roadblocks arise, communicate them early and offer solutions.

  • Takeaway: Develop a communication style that works for your manager, whether it's detailed status reports or concise updates.

Build a Supportive Relationship

Pay attention to your manager's workload. If they're overloaded, consider ways to streamline processes or take on more responsibilities yourself.

Remember: Not all managers are the same. Some are detail-oriented, while others prefer a broader view. If they’re a micromanager and it’s impacting the team, communicate this observation productively and offer alternative approaches.

Most of all, focus on solutions, not problems. Frame your message around improving overall team efficiency.

  • Takeaway: Identify areas where you can streamline workflows or proactively address potential roadblocks.

Your Mentor: A Valuable Resource

Finally, consider how a manager can become an effective mentor, available to provide guidance on your career. A mentor/manager can help you quickly “ladder up” your own skills and management abilities.

By mastering the art of managing up, you're not just making your manager's job easier, you're positioning yourself as a valuable asset. This, in turn, can lead to increased responsibility, promotions, and ultimately, a successful career trajectory.