The Container Store

Managing Up

Managing Up

What does it mean to “manage up”? While different organizations might have varying definitions of this phrase, at The Container Store we’d define it as simply putting yourself in another person’s shoes (particularly your manager or supervisor) to understand what they expect and help them accomplish their goals. But this isn’t only applicable in retail – you can use it in ANY business or company! Successfully managing up (or down, or all around!) is all about support, initiative, anticipation, and accountability, and when executed with compassion and enthusiasm can help everyone achieve greater things.

 Here’s how we encourage our employees to manage up:

Always be reliable.
Being punctual and readily available goes a long way toward making you and your team successful. And if there are times when you won’t be available for have access to phones or email, be sure to communicate this to your manager ahead of time.

Always learn as much as you can and be mindful of your manager’s priorities.
Understanding each day’s priorities and plans for accomplishing them will help both you and your manager achieve more. As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “Knowing is half the battle.” (Sorry, that may actually be from G.I. Joe.)

Always practice open and thoughtful communication.
“Communication Breakdown” may be a great Led Zeppelin song, but it’s a terrible business strategy. Again, put yourself in your manager’s shoes and ask yourself “If I were him or her, what would I want to know? What kind of questions would I ask?” This will help you and your manager stay committed to whole-brained thinking and avoid any unpleasant surprises. As we love to say here at The Container Store, communication IS leadership!

Always follow up – but understand and respect the most effective way to do that with your manager.
What’s the most appropriate way to follow up an important discussion? Is it an e-mail, or an off-the-cuff conversation? Maybe a clear and concise voicemail? Or what about a singing telegram? (Probably not, but that’s always an option.) In any case, HOW you communicate is just as important as WHAT you communicate, so be sure to recognize how different situations may call for different forms of follow-up. 

Always pay attention to detail.
Double-checking your work is crucial. Remember: time spent on discussing and correcting mistakes is time that could be used for productivity instead!

You can also checkout more of our leadership tips and topics here.