South-Western - Management  
How to?
Topic Managing Communication
Key Words Upward communication
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News Story

It is estimated that most people will have as many as 20 managers in their career, so knowing how to work with different management styles is a critical skill. Effective managers need to have the ability not only to communicate well with their staff, but to exert influence upward as well.

In order to communicate well, it is important to understand what motivates the person who is your manager. Knowing what motivates someone can help you to understand his or her priorities. Once you understand what the person wants, it makes it easier to deliver on those expectations.

Self-knowledge is also important in managing upward communication. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses can help you to see the areas where you can capitalize on your strengths and minimize your obstructive personality traits.

Another way to effectively manage upward communication is to take the time to understand your manager’s timetable. The best time to present an important idea is when your manager is free of distractions, not 24 hours before an important board meeting. Also, take the time to understand your manager’s communication preferences. Does the person prefer to receive information by e-mail, phone, or face-to-face? Be sure to keep the lines of communication as open and lively as possible to enable immediate sharing of changing priorities.

Upward communication needs to be approached in a considerate manner, with careful consideration of timing. Those who are able to be tactful and who can see the big picture will have the best success. Five important things to remember:

  1. Know your boss’ work style.
  2. Communicate in the right way.
  3. Present issues and propose solutions.
  4. Provide the right level of detail at the right time.
  5. Listen “between the lines” for more information.


List three key skills that can help with upward communication.


Why does everyone need to understand how to communicate upwards as well as horizontally and downwards? Are there any communication skills that can aid in all of these situations?


The author of the article states that “mastering the art of managing upwards will probably result in you having more fun at work and doing better in your career.” Explain how the author justifies this statement.

Source “How to?” Personnel Today, Oct. 3, 2006, p NA.
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