To Manage Up Successfully, Build Relationships

By Shravan Goli

The number-one factor in workplace success is the relationship between you and your immediate manager, so you need to take responsibility for getting the most out of that relationship. That’s where “managing up” comes in: It means focusing on your relationship with your manager.

Developing an effective working relationship with your manager can help your productivity soar, push your morale to great heights and enhance your career success.

You want to be viewed by your company’s management as someone too valuable to lose, so building such a reputation begins with you. To work most effectively with your manager, take time to assess his or her needs and determine how you can be a problem-solver.

Next, discover what the team needs and how you can help fill in the gaps to contribute to the success of the organization. Then, build trust by following through on what you say you’ll deliver. Essentially, you earn respect by being accountable and reliable.

According to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—and later corroborated by a two-year study of workers published by the Education Development Center—people learn 70 percent of their jobs informally. Informal job training is unstructured, natural and spontaneous, and it includes actively doing and socializing.

So ask your co-workers to show you how to use a piece of equipment or to teach you a skill related to your job. Grab a cup of coffee and improve your communication, cooperation and collaboration with colleagues, all while building your peer relationships. Engage others who can assist your efforts.

And be sure to volunteer to do more than your job calls for—something that almost always gets noticed by management. This will make you a stronger part of the team and your company, thus making you more valuable to your manager.

But what do you do if you are a highly motivated employee who’s getting little direction from your super-busy boss? You will need your priorities and expectations clarified, and to ensure that happens, you may have to take the initiative, which is apt to be appreciated by your manager.

This may involve setting up weekly meetings with your manager so you can discuss your work and continuously improve your performance. Or you can help your manager track your results so you will be remembered—and rewarded—at bonus time.

Great workplaces are built on day-to-day manager and colleague relationships. By strengthening those ties, you may find yourself in an environment where you are productive and engaged, and where the door is open for career advancement.

Shravan Goli is the president of Dice, a respected career site that brings together in-demand technology professionals and tech-powered companies. An internet and media veteran, Goli is responsible for executing the growth strategy for, ClearanceJobs and the Slashdot Media brands. Before joining Dice, he served as CEO of and general manager of Yahoo! Video and head of products for Yahoo! Finance. @shravangoli