The number one determinant of job satisfaction is the
relationship we have with our immediate supervisor.

This relationship can catapult your career, but it can also sabotage it. The relationship between you and your manager and your stress level is staggering. In fact, a bad relationship with your boss can increase your risk of heart attack by up to 60%.

According to Inc. Magazine, three out of every four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job. And sixty-five percent of employees would rather have a new boss than a pay raise.

In my twenty years of leadership development and communication consulting, I have had the unique opportunity to work with both staff and management. It’s fascinating to hear two sides of the same coin. Most people don’t intentionally communicate poorly, so it’s safe to assume that most people believe they are doing or saying the right thing.

Unfortunately, this can make communicating a challenge. The stakes are high with your manager because if you’re not able to communicate effectively, you are more likely to be unhappy at work. Your health and work satisfaction are strongly dependent on your ability to manage your relationship with your manager. Doing so effectively boils down to two words: Managing Up.

What is Managing Up?

According to Harvard Business Review, it is the act of consciously working to obtain the best possible results for you, your boss, and the organization. It means going above and beyond, doing what you can to make your boss’s job easier, managing expectations, teaching your boss how to manage you, and influencing your boss’s peers and other key stakeholders.

If you want to maximize your time, your health, and your career, start by using these 3 steps to manage up:

1. Be Influential

To influence someone, you have to know and understand them. Take time to learn your manager’s pressures, priorities, decision making style, career goals, personality, work style, communication approach, strengths, weaknesses and more. Then, adjust your style accordingly. This goes a long way in building the relationship.

2. Expectation Setting = Success

Your goal should be to gain alignment. Drive conversations to clarify expectations and to ensure you and your manager are on the same page. Here are a few questions that can help:

  • Are you in agreement on short, medium and long-term goals? Do you know your priorities?
  • Do you have a shared definition of success for outcomes and deliverables? Is there a clear vision?
  • How will progress will be measured?
  • What barriers or challenges exist? How will you address them when they arise?

3. Own Your Career

While it would be great if all managers were phenomenal leaders, we know that is simply not the case. Don’t wait for your manager to coach you, provide motivation, and drive your career forward. No one cares more about your career than you do. Take the initiative to find a mentor or seek coaching in other places. It is up to you to manage your own morale and career!

Let’s face it, bad bosses are everywhere, and it can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Most people don’t wake up and look forward to being a poor manager or employee. Assume your manager has the best intent. Learn his/her style, clarify expectations, and put yourself in the driver seat of your career. You’ll be a whole lot happier…and healthier.


Anne Grady is a speaker, author, and truth bomb dropper. She shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.


(512) 821-1111
[email protected]

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