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Managing Up: Tips for Aligning with Your Boss

DEC 14, 2023

When it comes to being a successful accounting and finance leader, managing the people below you is just half the equation. To be truly successful, you need to “manage up” and forge a strong relationship with your own boss. Professionals who learn to manage up quickly earn the trust of their boss, putting them in a better position to earn promotions and receive advancement opportunities.


Creating your own leadership development program is key. To help you, here are tips you can use to manage up.


Assess your manager’s management style.


What matters to your boss? Answering this question is the first step towards managing up. Begin by closely observing your boss and learning everything you can about their management style. Are they an “idea” person or a “results” person? How important is the bottom-line? Is it about the big picture or the small details? Incorporate what you learn into your work style and how you interact with your boss to take your career to the next level.


Schedule weekly meetings.


Effective communication is essential to managing up, and scheduling brief (30 minute) weekly meetings with your manager can keep you and your manager on the same page. Make the most of your time by coming to the meeting with an informal agenda that is divided into three sections – a review of recently completed projects or goals, projects and goals for the upcoming week and decisions your manager needs to make on existing projects. These frequent face-to-face sessions will help you stay connected with your manager and avoid surprises at work.


Get to know your boss.


Don’t let your interactions with your boss be all about you. Take the time to learn about the challenges your boss is facing, their personal goals and the projects that are important to him or her. Understanding your boss’s motivations, though processes and pressures at work will help you empathize. You might also find out about projects that can showcase your strengths or expose you to new opportunities.


Speak your boss’s language.


When positioning new ideas, hiring recommendations or investments for the company, come to the discussion with specific numbers detailing how the investment will impact productivity, revenue or sales. If you’re unsure what the impact will be, reference results from case studies of other companies that have implemented similar programs.


Make yourself invaluable.


Become an expert in one or two key areas and tout your experience within your organization. Positioning yourself as the go-to source on a particular issue or subject will elevate your status. But don’t stop at just one specialty; grow your skills and increase your value by volunteering for a variety of projects – especially the less-popular ones. Doing so will demonstrate that you are a critical member of the team and an essential part of your company’s success.


Keep your career moving in the right direction.


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