No one is going to get through a year of work in business development without hearing the phrase "managing up." But what does that mean? And how can it help you work toward your goals?
What is managing up?
In a nutshell, managing up means consciously working for the mutual benefit of you and your boss. In business development, "your boss" gets to be broadly defined - sometimes that means your direct supervisor, your supervisor on a particular funding opportunity, your VPs, or other key players on the proposal team.
It's so important that I would call it the #1 must have skill for business development professionals.
It doesn't mean avoiding work, rebelling, or kissing up - but understanding the position of "your boss" and the requirements and stresses they may be under. That knowledge gives you the power to be known as a stellar employee who can exceed expectations and help others meet their needs.
How can managing up help you?
First off, better communication with your boss and doing your work in a way that makes their life easier gives both of you some more breathing room - and we could all use more breathing room this year. Imagine a pair of ice skaters perfectly in sync - that's what you and your boss look like nailing your goals in harmony.
Second, when you want to level up your career - whether it's stepping into management role yourself or taking on new responsibilities - having the respect and confidence of senior managers is one of the biggest roads to success. They are then more likely to be an advocate for you and more likely to help you navigate new challenges in a mentorship role.
Ready to read more? Here are five articles that can help you understand the art of managing up:
An interview with Mary Abbajay, author of Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.
This piece which outlines some rules of engagement with your boss that can help navigate that fine line before kissing up.
These awesome managing up dos and don'ts from idealist give you some concrete ways to understand your boss's perspective.
This youtube video of Lauren Mackler is a bit dated, but it's a great three minute crash course on where to start.
Some rough reality checks for navigating power imbalances, especially applicable for young women of color with bosses who just could care less.