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Control Your Professional Environment by Managing Up

Just because there’s a professional hierarchy doesn’t mean you have no say.

Every job that involves working with other people has a professional hierarchy. This isn’t news; there’s you, there’s a manager above you, there’s an executive manager above them, so on and so forth. However, despite what the word “hierarchy” may imply, it’s not always a matter of top-down management, at least if you look closer. Your manager does have authority over you on paper, and it’s usually their say above yours, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have no control in the situation. You just need to learn how to manage up.

Managing up, in concise terms, is the process of “managing” your manager. To manage up is to learn you manager’s managerial patterns and train yourself to anticipate them, all while establishing yourself in your manager’s good graces. This is an especially valuable skill to have if your manager’s not the nicest person; becoming a reliable, go-to employee will keep your manager from getting overly frustrated and jumping down your (or your coworkers’) throat.

Managing up is sort of like studying for a test in school. You can’t really do it in one day; you need to study and internalize your manager’s typical policies and mannerisms and train yourself to adopt to them. If your manager’s a relatively pleasant person, this isn’t too hard. If they’re not, well, you may have to endure some exhaustion, but the understanding you get of how to work with them will be worth it.

You might be asking right now, “isn’t this just a fancier way of sucking up to the boss?” Well, yeah, kinda. But you’re not just sucking up for the sake of sucking up, you’re establishing yourself as a reliable worker that your manager can turn to when they need something done promptly.

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