The Challenge of Managing Up, Out, and Down

How to get recognition and build leadership skills at work



Have you struggled to get a promotion or receive recognition in the past? Have you been promoted, but struggle to lead without any leadership training? You must master the skills of managing up, out, and down.

Most of us were raised to believe that “it’s not polite to brag” or that “you shouldn’t toot your own horn.”

Then the reality of the work world sinks in once you realize that keeping your head down and doing a great job isn’t nearly enough.

This month I will focus on the keys to securing your next promotion and getting recognition by sharing the secrets involved in influencing at every level of the organization.

Communicating with executive management (managing up) takes a different thought process and set of communication skills than influencing peers (managing out).  Likewise, it takes a different skill set to lead staff to accomplish team goals (managing down). While there are important communication and social skills that apply at every level, you need a mastery of these three skills in order to succeed.

One key to career mastery is learning effective positioning on the job, while avoiding the dangers of succumbing to negative office politics. Here are a few areas to focus on as we kick off the conversation about managing up, out, and down:

  • Hone your priorities to align with the stresses and pressures that your boss faces so you can make her look like a rock star,
  • Understand the motivations and different communication styles of your peers so you can build bridges and boost your influence, and
  • Inspire, engage, and hold your team accountable to individual, team, and company goals

Do you understand the objectives and major priorities of your boss? If not, now is the time to align your priorities with his, whether you get along or not. Your career will benefit from putting up wins for your team. (As long as you take credit without being overbearing.) The same applies to building collaborative relationships with peers. Finally, do you hold your team accountable to goals and deadlines, while empowering them to do their best work?

If not, don’t despair. In future posts, we will look into the key traits and behaviors of professionals who have mastered these three workplace skills.