My Managing Boss – Managing Up

How can I convince my manager  to let me complete my project?


Dear Jeanne,

I am working hard on a project that should improve our performance improvement system. My boss gave me permission to tackle this project, but now she doesn’t even seem to want to talk about it. In fact, she seems annoyed about the whole thing, and I am afraid, if this continues, that all my efforts will go to waste.

The performance appraisals system we have is general and doesn’t give the supervisor the opportunity to review specific projects and skills. I have developed a system that will include a drop-down box where different skills and projects can be selected for review. Now, my supervisor has now decided that she likes what we have. How can I get her to, at least, consider the changes?




First, let me congratulate you on taking the initiative to offer a positive solution to what you see is a problem. However, in order for the solution to be accepted, you need to make sure you have communicated completely with your supervisor.

Because you don’t say otherwise, my suggestions will be based on the assumption that, in the past, your supervisor has been open to new ideas and projects. She did give you permission to tackle this project, so I know that she was, at least, interested at the start. Knowing that, I am going to ask you these questions, which I hope will give you some helpful ideas.


  • Did you identify and present a real need to your supervisor? – Did your supervisor completely understand what you were proposing, the value of the proposal to the company, and specifically how you would approach and complete the project? Just because your supervisor initially agreed to your doing the project, doesn’t mean she had a thorough understanding of what you had planned or how long it would take to complete it. When you bring a complete proposal to your supervisor, that gives her the opportunity to discuss the details and time frame with you. She would be in a better position to make suggestions and voice her concerns with such a proposal before you begin your work.


  • Have you sought advice and input from your supervisor and others, who might offer good ideas? – Everyone likes to be asked for their input, and that certainly includes your supervisor. I would expect that she would have some good ideas on the topic, since she manages the department and would probably be responsible for implementing the project. Letting her know that you have incorporated ideas from your colleagues, as well, will give her a sense that other employees support this effort and that their input has been valued.


  • Have you kept your supervisor updated regularly or did you just bring the final project? – I think it’s pretty obvious that your supervisor would like to know how things are moving along. Be specific, and seek input as you give her updates. It’s not good to surprise her at the end.


  • Have you continued to complete your regular assignments? – While your supervisor may appreciate your initiative, her top priority is that you do your job. If you are giving more time to your new project than to your regular work efforts, you will be affecting the success of the team.


[message type=”success”]The ability to influence your manager  will depend on how you communicate the information and manage up. When you meet with your supervisor to discuss ideas, concerns, or projects, bring all relevant information with you. Make sure your supervisor understands the information you present. Seek advice and provide regular input. Think about how you would like to be informed and updated. Offer your supervisor the same consideration.[/message]


I hope this helps,

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