Communicate expectations and recognize good work.

Managing Up focuses on the right work to get the right results.
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Mark Complete

Model the Way by Managing Up

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How we communicate matters. When we model positive and respectful communication, we are setting the example and expectation for how to communicate and interact in our organization. When we manage up, we are demonstrating “what right looks like.” In the workplace, employees look for leaders that build good relationships, are approachable, work side by side with others, and show appreciation for a job well done. When leaders build a culture of gratitude and appreciation by recognizing good work, this supports an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. We also know that what gets recognized gets repeated. When we manage up people and their specific actions, we communicate our expectations, while at the same time recognize good work.


Manage up is used to create the habit of focusing on the positive, while stamping out the negative. It allows us to model for others the sentiment of recognition and appreciation for hard work. We validate for our employees that we live the values we have deemed important to fulfilling our mission and vision. 

Manage up is a communication tactic that allows us to paint ourselves, our co-workers, and our organizations in a positive light. It is a behavior that is essential for reducing anxiety, building teamwork, and eliminating a blaming culture of “We/They.” Manage up is a specific type of recognition that positions people well with others. It promotes people recognizing other people for good work and should be done when people do things well.  Manage up helps everyone know “what right looks like,” while also recognizing the person/department demonstrating behaviors aligned to the organization’s values. The recognition should be specific, sincere, and genuine. 

Advantages of Managing Up Coworkers
  • The stakeholder feels better about their next interaction
  • The stakeholder feels more at ease with the handover, thus their coordination of future interactions
  • The coworker has a head-start in winning confidence
  • Reduces complaints
Advantages of Managing Up Departments
  • Reinforces coordination and teamwork
  • Positions other departments well so they don’t have to win the stakeholder over
  • The stakeholder feels more at ease with the handover, thus their coordination of future interactions
  • Decreases anxiety and concern
  • Reduces complaints


Use every opportunity to recognize individuals and departments when communicating with others.

  • Be aware of how you communicate. When tempted to use comments that blame others, turn this around and take the opportunity to use positive communication that builds others up instead.   

Script specific Manage Up comments to share at every meeting.

  • Be genuine and sincere in giving specific recognition using others’ good work as the example of what right looks like.  
  • Work to make this a common and intentional practice.
  • Remind others to turn a negative statement into a manage up statement in their conversations with others.

Be intentional by making a conscious effort to use at least 3 Manage Up comments each week in individual conversations. 

  • Note the opportunities in your calendar when manage up comments could be used.
  • Script possible statements that could be made in connection to the meeting or interaction.
  • Listen for manage up statements made by others and use these in spreading positive communication.

Track who you acknowledged and why.

  • Tracking allows you to know who and what is being recognized on your team.
  • Tracking allows you to see trends in performance.

Consistency Creates Excellence

Managing up ensures that the right behavior gets repeated—not just by the employee who originally performed the behavior, but also by those around that person who observe the reward and recognition. Recognizing people encourages others to do the right thing, and ultimately it encourages the consistency we need in order to create a culture of excellence. Does your organization have a system in place for employees to submit manage-ups?