Employees often fall into the trap of feeling powerless and having to work very long hours to get the job done.

But by learning how to "manage upwards", you can control your workload, improve your productivity, achieve your professional goals and have a better work-life balance.

Here is some practical advice on cultivating a good relationship with your manager.

Observe your manager

The first step in managing your relationship with your boss is to understand how you can meet your manager's needs better.

Know your manager's style and be aware of his current priorities so you are able to align them with your own. A good way to learn these things about your manager is to watch the way he interacts with others. How does he like to be kept informed and what are his preferred methods of communication?

Be a match

Once you understand your manager's work style, learn to put yourself in your manager's place and try to figure out how he perceives you and your style of communication.

Try to adjust the way that you communicate with your boss and consider how you can adapt your approach to his.

Influence your workload

If you are swamped with work, schedule a meeting to discuss priorities and options for what you can and cannot handle.

If you cannot take something on, you need to explain why. Be proactive by asking your manager to recommend a colleague to assist you, or you could suggest using contract help.

Be prepared to tell your boss exactly what your workload entails and have a to-do list available for inspection.

Manage expectations

Research by human capital management firm DBM shows that people have up to eight or more jobs throughout their working lives.

Many managers have not "risen through the ranks" as they would have done a generation or two ago. This means they may be less familiar with your work process.

So the responsibility lies with you to ensure they have realistic performance expectations of you. This may include how long it takes to complete specific tasks.

You may have the urge to impress your boss by doing work from home or staying back late into the night to get things done, but this may have negative outcomes.

By secretly doing work from home, you may make a good impression in the short term, but you are also raising your manager's expectations with what you and your teammates can realistically achieve within normal work hours.

Provide solutions

One of the most important skills to learn when managing upwards is to approach your manager with solutions rather than problems.

By requesting his approval on a solution, you are involving him in the decision and making his job easier, and showing him that you are proactive.

This has the double benefit of impressing your manager and giving you a fantastic opportunity to hone your problem-solving skills.

By making a few changes to the way you work with your manager, you will be able to achieve higher productivity and meet the company's or department's objectives.

Just remember to keep the lines of communication open, ask for feedback and never cross the line by being manipulative. You will be more likely to be considered for a promotion if your manager sees your initiative, problem-solving and decision-making skills.