Breakfast Roundtable Talk: 5 Tips to “Managing Up”

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Are you having challenges with your manager? Could you use some help on how best to approach them?

Per a recent article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), managing up is, “an ability that can shape your career more than almost any other—but many employees don’t know how to do it.”

The APICS Milwaukee Breakfast Roundtable covered this topic this past week. The definition of managing up per Justin Reynolds, “refers to doing whatever you can to make your boss’s job easier by essentially managing your manager”

Below are five tips that were shared by the group on how best to “manage up.”

  1. It is important to have clear expectations from the start. This should be done in the interview process if possible so that each person can decide if it will be a good fit or not
  2. A good manager should be able to have an open and honest dialog with their direct reports. Being able to take some constructive criticism will help each party get what they need from the other person
  3. Knowing your manager on a personal level and not just a professional level is important and a key way to break down barriers. Managers might have a lot going on in their personal lives which may explain poor management behavior such as a lack of communication or focus. Getting to know your manager in this way might help explain why they may not be the most engaged manager. This will also help guide direct reports as to where they can help their manager pick up the slack.
  4. Learning how to identify different personality styles by using tools such as the Disc Analysis will help employees manage their manager with a better understanding of preferences. For example, a manager who falls into the “C” category is probably very data-driven and wants exact numbers. They don’t like soft metrics. Conversely, a manager with the personality style of an “I” is ok with roundabout numbers and probably doesn’t want to know too much detailed data.
  5. It is up to you to figure out how to manage up and how to influence your manager. It is not something that someone else will do for you.

Overall, as was suggested by the WSJ, managing up effectively can greatly shape your career. We hope the above tips will help you in your interactions with your manager!

We are done with our breakfast roundtables now until January. Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and a happy new year! Looking forward to helping you grow in your career in 2020!


APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping approximately 450 members representing over 180 Milwaukee area companies with educational and networking opportunities.  APICS Milwaukee chapter members receive discounts on all certification programs – click here to join today

Looking for more information on how APICS Milwaukee can help you in your career and current supply chain trends, visit our website at: https://apicsmilw.org.