Managing Up – Stop Complaining About Your Boss and Take Control

Managing Up 

Stop Complaining About Your Boss and Take Control!

Is your boss disorganised, overworked and or suffering from a serious case of scatter-brain? Or are you a manager run off your feet and struggling to support and nurture your valued your employees? Time to learn how to manage up!

It’s true what they say: People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. In fact, one study showed that 65% of workers surveyed would choose a new boss over a pay raise.

Take a deep breath. Even the very best of bosses can lose touch with their employees from time to time. This is why learning to ‘manage up’ can really lighten the load!

Steve Carrol holding a World's Best Boss mug from The Office
But are you really the world’s best boss?

What is Managing Up

When a managerial relationship is weak your whole organisation suffers!

Think about it. If your employee’s / your job productivity, performance and overall desire to rock-up to work on a Monday relies on taking direction from an absent or overbearing manager, things can get tricky…to say the least.

Put simply, ‘managing up’ refers to doing whatever you can to make your boss’s job easier by essentially managing your manager. Trust me, the real secret to maintaining a pleasant and productive working relationship with your boss lies with YOU!

In this blog you will learn:

  • My top 5 strategies for managing up that both employees and managers can implement

1. Manage Your Expectations = Managing Up

Are my expectations unrealistic? Or is my team just being lazy?
The ultimate conundrum!


When was the last time to read your job description? A while yeah? Well, it’s time to pull that bad-boy out and give it a good ol’ ponder.

Overtime your role evolves, new skills are added to your repertoire and overall th expectations of your role will change. It’s important to review and rewrite your job description frequently (annually is a great start) so that both you and your boss are clear on the expectations of your role.


Work together with your employee to write a job description that is in line with your expectations. That may involve cross-functional tasks that don’t traditionally fit with that employee’s job title. If you need to make up a new title heck go ahead.

It’s important when doing this to have an open discussion around where you believe they could exercise more autonomy and where feedback loops may be failing (on either side). This is also a great opportunity to examine the skills your employee could benefit from in their role and create a clear plan for ongoing learning and development. Woah so many birds with one stone!

2. Set Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)


Now that you’re clear on the day-to-day tasks your boss expects of you, set some clear KPIs that will motivate you to achieve them. It’s really important that you take ownership here and focus on achievable targets. Don’t set unrealistic goals just to impress your boss. Future you won’t thank you for it!


Inspire your team so that they set KPIs that align with your vision. DO NOT set them the KPIs for them! You’re a side passenger in this exercise. It’s up to them to set KPIs that THEY are motivated by and THEY believe they can achieve.

Read: How to Champion Team Focus with 90-Day Goals

3. Keep the Communication Flowing (Both Ways)


How often do you and your manager sit down and talk? And no I’m not talking about the causal ‘How was your weekend?’ convo you have over your morning coffee!

Open communication is the most efficient way to identify roadblocks before they derail you completely. Take control of scheduling friendly fortnightly progress meetings. Come prepared with an agenda, proactive suggestions, supporting material and a clear idea of your needs and expectations. Your boss will appreciate your initiative!


I know I know! ‘I don’t have time for a million meetings a week!’

I love meetings...not!

We all know how you feel about meetings

Trust me, by committing to these Progress Meeting you will actually save yourself a bucketload of time. You can wave goodbye to unnecessary back-and-forth questions over email and you will find your employees are so much more motivated and productive.

Air and resolve grievances, problem-solve, discuss milestone progress and develop your project roadmap—this is a core part of your job as a Manager / Boss so don’t ignore it!

Read: How to Run a Successful Work In Progress (WIP) Team Meeting

4. Share Your Vision


It’s time to own your career! You boss is busy enough already. It’s not their job to be your Career Counsellor on top of everything else.

Set your own personal goals and communicate them to your manager. Most bosses appreciate employees who have clearly defined goals and are willing to take initiative!


A goal-orientated employee will bring a lot to the table. Support them in blazing their own trail and both you and your company will benefit greatly! Find out what lights your employee’s fire and help them achieve it. Better yet, share your own ambitions. You never know they could be the key to progressing in your career.

5. Identify the Issue and Get Your Problem-Solving Hat On


How well do you know your boss? We’re not expecting you to be heading over for Sunday roast but don’t be a complete stranger. Make an effort to understand their management style, values, limiting beliefs and communication style.

Example: Your boss may be a serial-micromanager. This is insanely annoying and totally counter-productive. You could sulk at your desk all day or you could think about why they feel this way. Is there some way you can offer more reassurance to them without having to constantly be under the thumb?


It’s never easy to be self-critical, but it’s important none-the-less.

What elements of your managerial style help your employees do their job better? And what elements hinder them?

Micromanagement, lack of communication, unclear/unrealistic expectations and chaotic prioritising are just a few of the red flags to keep an eye out for.

Low morale, confusion, poor productivity and high turnover are often reflective of flaws in your managerial style. What impact are you having on your employees? How can you improve?

Your bosses job is to encourage you to take risks, and then punish you for taking them

It’s time for a reality check!

I really hope you found these strategies helpful. Remember, improving this relationship will take consistent effort on both sides — but it’s crucial to both your personal success and the success of your organisation as a whole.

A collaborative and open managerial relationship is honestly the secret to a happy and hardworking team. If you feel this is an area that could use improvement in your business why not reach out to a business coach like myself or work one-on-one with your employees to implement some of these strategies.

MI Academy also offers an Agile for Marketing Teams program designed to give your team the strategies to harness the power of cross-functional capabilities, support rapid development, lean on feedback loops and deliver sustainable, collaborative solutions. Your initial 45-minute discovery call is completely free there’s no obligation to commit to a program. If you’re interested in learning more head to the landing page or email us at

Good luck managing up!

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