There’s an oft-repeated phrase: “People don’t quit a job, they quit a boss.” Certainly if you want to go the manager route, it’s critical to become a trusted captain in order to retain a top crew. But foisting all the blame onto bad bosses when these pairings go awry is also an oversimplification — one that takes agency away from the employee.
Like any relationship, that of the manager and their report is a two-way street, and the task of navigating the often bumpy road along a startup’s course falls on both parties. There are those managers who you instantly click with, falling into an easy rhythm as though you’ve worked together for years. Others duos may seem like you’re trying to force two repelling magnets together. But more likely, your relationship with your boss falls somewhere in between these two extremes.
Whether you’re taking on your first direct report or you’re a seasoned leader looking to sharpen your skills, there’s plenty of advice to go around when it comes to managers. But when the focus shifts to those who are being managed, many of those concrete tactics and strategies get decidedly less detailed. While it’s universally understood that building a good relationship with your manager takes work — even if you take to each other like a duck to water — the prescription for how to do so often fails to pack a punch.
That’s in part because managing up is a rather amorphous category, encompassing everything from developing rapport and trust, decision-making, communication style, conflict management and goal-setting with higher-ups. To further sketch out the do’s and don’ts for managing up, we’ve spent the past few weeks reaching out to some of the sharpest folks we know for their take on this important question: