The myths and traps of "managing up"Featured

I see a lot about how to "manage up" but not enough on how managers can be more effective. It's common knowledge that many, if not most, managers, have become managers simply because they've been around the workforce for a long time, as opposed to because they exhibited quality managerial traits. From my personal experience, a lot of unproductive work politics would be avoided if managers were better, not if their reports were better at managing up. That said, I do think this is a great guide on how to manage up and why.
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It's great that you're already aware of how to manage up. It's an important skill, regardless of how competent or not your manager is. In fact I'd argue, the worse your manager, the more important it is to manage up. Somebody has to do the managing in the relationship, and if the manager isn't doing it, then it's going to fall to the report. It's not fair, but by recognising the reality, we can be more empowered to change it.
Hi @katiewilde thanks for your reply! I should clarify that I meant I don't see enough in general about how managers can be better, not that I don't see enough of that information in your article, which is obviously focused on how to manage up. I think this is a fantastic resource. I was just saying I wish managers didn't become managers because of, on average, their seniority as opposed to their merit. I definitely agree that it's an unfair and unfortunate situation.
I don’t think managers become managers out of longevity. I think they become managers because they want more influence, and they can see that worker bees don’t have a voice. The problem is that despite all the books on managing, entire shelves of them, managers are very rarely trained in how to manage. I’ve worked for numerous managers who were ambitious and were promoted, then left to figure it out. By managing up, you’re doing two things: you’re looking out for yourself, and you’re teaching them how to interact.
That has definitely not been true of 98% of managers I’ve worked for/with. I agree about people wanting influence (and a higher salary) but the advocating part (for worker bees) is not something I’ve witnessed much of. There are lots of resources out there for anyone who wants to be a better manager, but anyone who is a manager has to want to read them. From my observations, most people just fall into manager roles but are never really TRAINED to be managers nor do they seek to become better ones, because no one is really asking it of them. So in that context, this guide on managing up is very helpful.