4 Ways to Manage Up

No one ever said that you had to be organized to be successful. Plenty of disorganized people take on high-level positions at great companies or even start businesses themselves. This doesn’t mean that they are easy to work for, however. Oftentimes, working for disorganized bosses means that you end up feeling like (or even being!) the manager in many ways. But there are some things you can do to help manage your boss, improve productivity and keep things running smoothly. Check out these four tips.

Put Everything in Writing

Disorganized people tend to have a hard time keeping a lot of different things in focus at once. They may commit to one thing and then get distracted and completely forget about it. Sometimes it’s easier to organize your boss’ thoughts more clearly by reading or typing out their responses – you can then form these into emails with very clear actions for your boss. Make sure never to be vague or verbose – focus on conciseness and clarity. That way you have a paper trail to refer to in order to manage your boss and keep them on track.


Don’t let conversations or emails drift off on a tangent. Each day, make a list of priorities so that you know which matters to focus on. Start conversations and emails with the most important items and try to steer them back that way if the conversation drifts off. Try to focus on one item at a time so you don’t overwhelm your boss.

Look at the Big Picture

Try not to just eke by each day. It’s important to look at the big picture and constantly figure out ways that your boss’s disorganization affects you so you can find ways to improve it. For example, if your boss loses papers, keep everything limited to electronic correspondence so there’s a record of it. If they forget to get back to your requests, set email or text reminders to follow up. You can help them help themselves!

Clarify Tasks

Disorganized people might mean well, but they often jump into things without mapping them out completely. Don’t follow confusing orders from your boss until you have clarified what they mean and what your exact goals are. You might receive a number of “top priorities” the same day (or even in the same hour!). Remind your boss of the previous requests and ask which one should take precedence before rushing off to complete the new request.

Learning how to manage your boss can be an ongoing process – but the good news is that you can learn a lot in the process. Figuring out how to adapt to new circumstances, and even change behavior, is a great skill to have for any job going forward. If you need extra help with managing an extra-disorganized boss, get in touch with Vesper. We promise we can help.


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