Jeffrey Levy replied to the topic “Managing Up” – What does it mean and why is everyone talking about it? in the forum Leadership, Management, Supervision 7 years, 8 months ago
Hmm. I agree that all the things everyone has said are good to do, but they don’t fall into my definition. Ok, Andy’s point about helping your manager know when you need more work does meet my definition.
I coach my team pretty frequently on managing up. To me, it’s a set of actions under the umbrella of getting your needs met by meeting your manager’s needs.
For example, your manager says “we need to clearly communicate this standard to regulated companies.” You know that you’ve wanted to explore a new communications channel (e.g., social media), so you take this opportunity to suggest it to your manager as a way to achieve the broader goal.
Or you’ve noticed that how long it takes to file your time card, and come up with a way to make it more efficient. You realize it’ll also help your manager review things more quickly, so you focus on the benefit to the manager when you proactively raise your idea. You don’t start with “this’ll make my life easier” (you do raise it, just not first) and you don’t wait until you’re asked.
Managing up also means some of the things people said earlier: don’t surprise your boss with either good news or bad news. Help them deal with everything by keeping them informed and being up front when you make a mistake (everyone makes mistakes, even your manager!).
Finally, it means thinking of how best to help your manager, who is responsible for various things:
- getting work done: not only do the work, but report back when it’s done. I don’t mean every time you answer the phone, but if your manager specifically asks you to do something, send two short notes: 1) “I’m on it” and 2) “It’s done.”
- reporting further up the chain: be clear about your accomplishments to help brag about your unit
- helping you get your job done (believe it or not, that’s one of a manager’s top priorities): tell them when you run into an obstacle. Don’t expect your manager to know everything; it’s impossible.
- making decisions about your work: come in with proposed solutions instead of only identifying problems and relying solely on your manager to solve them
- balancing attention among multiple obligations: when you set up time to talk, be clear about the purpose for talking and get to the point, being clear about what you need your manager to do (make a decision, allocate resources, give you feedback, etc.)
- reducing budget: do your own thinking about what you would cut and why, and be ready for that request
- allocating a windfall: have your “elevator pitch” ready, so if some additional resources come in (money, time, contractor support, etc.) you’re ready to ask for what you need
- being aware of what’s going on: know your stuff and ready to talk about it on a moment’s notice. But if you don’t know, don’t make it up. Commit to following up and then do so. And when you hear something relevant to your manager’s needs, share it!
- trying to get it all done: when you can help, volunteer. In general, be a team player, even if that means sometimes doing things normally done by others (from solving problems to making copies).
I hope that’s helpful!
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