How to Manage Upwards Effectively in the Workplace

Almost everyone has worked with a bad manager at some time in their careers; it can be demotivating in your working life and can even transfer to your personal life, affecting your well-being.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states that 79% of employees experience substantial stress symptoms from bad management. Effectively managing upwards means making your managers life easier by anticipating what is expected from you from your first day.

While it isn’t easy to tolerate, leaving your job may not always be an option. You have to consider that you can’t change the person; however you can change your attitude towards them. Below are 5 coping mechanisms that can make your working life a lot easier.

1. Always think before responding to any news, good or bad.

The first place to start here is by working on yourself before even considering your Manager. Gain perspective on your situation and do a truthful self-assessment about your personal strengths weaknesses. Are you sure it isn’t you with the problem?

If it is definitely your Manager, we would recommend finding some personal ways to blow off steam. Meditation, relaxation, regular exercise, or talking with people you trust are all great ways to keep perspective on the situation and will allow you to monitor your mental health.

2. Make sure you both have the same priorities.

Set up a meeting with your Manager to ensure you are on the same page, and clarify their expectations. After the meeting, create an action plan, with goals and steps for how to effectively manage your responsibilities. Then present the plan and listen, making modifications where appropriate.

How will this help you? You are ensuring here that your bad relationship isn’t down to miscommunications. Almost all managers will appreciate this hand on approach because you are saving them time and having to make the effort.

3. Remember: communication is key.

Most bad managers cannot stand surprises; be sure to regularly inform your Manager what’s going on, cc’ing them in important emails, setting up meetings, and sending them casual updates. This will discourage them from contacting you and therefore limiting your interaction. A common mistake in dealing with bad bosses is avoiding them or not communicating with them, this will only add fuel to their fire, and consequently trouble you further.

4. Tactically confront if any bad situations arise, always keeping a record.

Make sure to be fair when you are planning to make challenges to your Manager, not irrational. Pick your fights strategically and confront in a positive way, using evidence and planning to support your point of view. Document any concerns you have when communicating with a bad Manager and keep a record. How will this help you? You will gain your Managers respect whilst maintaining your integrity, plus if any point of conflict were to arise, you have proof.

5. Involve HR or other departments if necessary.

This should be your final move; after all other avenues seem to be exhausted. Before proceeding with this option, you must assess the type of Human Resource team in your company. Are they compliance focused or are they advocates for employee rights? If they are compliance driven you have to consider the possibility that they will side with the Manager, which will not help you. Usually in this scenario, it ends badly for employees.

However, if your company’s HR team are employee advocates you may get some advice while they investigate your concerns, keeping your comments anonymous. Some companies have employee HR hotlines that can offer confidential, impartial guidance. Make the appropriate research before you choose this way, once you bring about a complaint about your Manager, there is no going back.