Helping executive assistants break through the limitations of their role and advance to their next level with confidence

Kate Minogue, Executive Assistant Career Strategist
Executive Assistant Career Strategist

The 4 T’s of Managing Up

If you haven’t read my last blog about why and when to manage up, it’s a good primer for this one.

Now it’s time to learn what I call the 4 T’s of managing up — exactly how you’ll do it and make it look easy.

Topic: Get Clear About the What and the Why

Clarity is the first step to making anything happen.

Imagine that your boss is the hero of a challenge you’d like her to undertake. Fill in the following statement to crystalize exactly the thing you want her to do, and why she should follow through with it. The key is to make sure that the why is answered from your boss’s perspective. This should be a reason that’s compelling to her and will take her closer to getting something she wants:

Fill in the blank:

It’s a great idea for your boss to _____, because that will allow _________ to happen.

When you can clearly and simply define the What and the Why to yourself, you are ready to communicate to your busy boss!

Tactic: Reduce the Barriers and Ratchet Up the Reward

Decide how you’re going help your boss implement the outcome you want. Come prepared with a plan to propose, a timeline, and ideas of the challenges you might encounter in terms of implementing your idea.

Set up your meeting with a clear amount of time you’ll need to discuss the idea. Make sure you honor this when you meet!

Tone: Take the Position of Partner

When it comes to influencing without authority, you stand a much better chance of being successful if you’re someone who can actually be heard.

I don’t mean just being audibly heard (although supporting your voice with air and allowing your words to project is a must!)

Your boss will hear the power in your words more clearly

if you approach him as an equal.

If you approach your boss with deferential energy, with body language and a tone of voice that imply that she’s your superior in this situation, you send the subconscious message that your words are less important. 

You are both human beings on planet earth, with histories, hopes, desires, challenges, joys, heartbreaks, and dreams. Start from here, the place of being Fellow Humans.

Next, remember that you are uniquely positioned to see areas for opportunity. Who else is as intimate with your boss’s challenges and goals? If you don’t step forward to influence in this area, who will?

Timing: Choose Your Moment Wisely

You know your boss better than anyone. How can you create a moment where she’ll be free from distractions? Are there certain meetings which place him a better or worse frame of mind to receive new ideas?

The old adage “Timing Is Everything” applies here, too. Read your boss’s body language to sense if she’s in a hurry or feeling pressured to get something done. If you start to get the feeling that it might be better to come back another time, offer to reschedule when your boss has more freedom to check in with you.

What works well for you when managing up?

Please share this article with other Executive Assistants.


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