Bosses come in all shapes, sizes and types. Knowing how to manage up, influence and collaborate with Boss A does not guarantee you’ll get good results with Boss B. Yet there are some general principles that apply to everyone, like getting to know your boss’s needs and preferences and figure out how to work through disagreements.

Other managing-up tactics are more specific:

  1. The micromanager. First, observe for a while to figure out if it’s just you they feel they need to snoopervise. If that is the case, do some self-assessment around whether you’re doing the best job possible. Following that, meet with your boss to indicate you’re working on continuous improvement and would appreciate their input. If your boss micromanages everyone, make sure you’re 100% focused on the right outcomes, keep the boss in the loop and consider a conversation about your mutual needs.
  2. The new boss. Getting off on the right foot is critical, even if you already know the person moving into the role. Set up a meeting ASAP to understand their priorities, clarify expectations, align on work styles, etc. Chances are this new role will require your boss and you to both make some adjustments to get the desired results.
  3. The “not-so-smart” boss. Recognize that it may be your own ego talking, or your boss may possess a skill set you just haven’t seen yet. Even if you’re certain your boss is unclever, keep it to yourself. If you bring this to others’ attention, it may be seen as undermining the boss…because that is what you would be doing! Focus on your own goals, the team and the organization, and you may find that the boss looks smarter all the time.

Looking for a useful resource that covers lots of boss scenarios? Check out this Harvard Business Review article by Claire Rousmaniere. It’s chock full of great links to other articles that address boss complications.

Have a helpful hint for managing up? Comment below or message us.


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash