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The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing-up at Work
Insights From Mettl Company Insights

Managing laterally, up, and down are completely different paradigms. While managing down is the common form of management wherein you manage people who are in subordinate positions, managing laterally is about making decisions independently and individually by a group of people irrespective of subordinate positions, and managing up is managing your boss or manager when you are subordinate to them.

Here’s the do’s and don’ts of successfully managing up at work:


  • Make a List of Things you Want to Discuss:

Since both of you have busy schedules and limitations on the availability of time, you can’t run to your manager or boss for every little thing you need to ask them or any other detail that requires their involvement. Have a list of all the things that you need to ask or discuss with them to save both of you from time expenditure and inconvenience.

  • Read the Unwritten Rules:

Try to read your manager's behavior and working style to decipher what they like and don’t and also to shed some light on the office culture. Is it okay to disturb during an ongoing meeting for something urgent, is face-to-face interaction more appreciated or emails or chats, the frequency of expected work updates


  • Don’t be bogged down by work:

There will always be multiple things that you will need to take care of. For those jobs which are unforeseen, they absolutely can't be avoided but for your defined tasks, ask for a prioritization list- what’s need to be done first, which tasks can take a little backseat. Priority setting helps you to not be bogged down by a multitude of responsibilities and be motivated and clear about how a day would look like.

  • Don’t downplay your boss’ authority:

Irrespective of how better you might be in some skills than your manager, never downplay your boss’ authority. Your managers are in their shoes and in that seat because they could do that job better than you. Always seek their guidance, keep them in the loop, and let them take important decisions. It’s important to keep a clear distinction between what’s a task and what’s a decision.

Topics: Management

Originally published February 21 2019,updated November 18 2019

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