Episode 39: Managing Up


June 23rd, 2020

30 mins 48 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

We’re excited to talk in this episode about reverse management, or managing up. We’re going to get into it, and talk about how to work with a manager, how to talk with your manager, and how to excel even when your manager isn’t very good at managing...

We discuss how sometimes people don’t manage up well because they don’t want to be a burden, but rule #1 is to communicate and sometimes over-communicate. A CC on an email is an FYI, and it helps your boss have the information they may need.

When a manager doesn’t know what is going on, they ask questions and ask for data to prove work. When they don’t see proof of work, it gets uncomfortable.

The point of information is clarity. If you manage up well, the executive team will hear more about you and your projects, and it will benefit your career.

If you don’t show your boss your good work, they can’t share it with their boss and therefore you won’t get recognition. Same with if you aren’t doing good work and you need help. Your manager can can help you learn and can cover for you to others...

If you look at your week and your goals based on what you think is expected, you can share that with your boss to make sure you are doing what they need you to do. A quick touch-base at the beginning and end of the week ensure alignment.

Regular updates help your manager know you, how you work, what you do and what’s on your plate. By setting expectations, you open up lines of communication for hard discussions around expectations.

It’s important to mention long-term projects periodically to make sure your manager knows that it’s on your radar.

We don’t all remember everything going on, so a reminder is a good paper trail to keep them posted. Sending the email is a CYA -- whether or not your manager opens the email is up to them.

We think it’s so important to have 1:1 meetings between employees and managers to build trust and communication. As an employee, you want to be prepared and your weekly update can be the basis for that meeting.

Managers need to have a “manageable” number of direct reports so that they can meet regularly. When managers get regular status reports, they can have fewer 1:1s and use them as career mentorship, expectation setting, and other high-level uses of that time vs communicating status updates.

What should you do when your manager is a 1:1 canceller?

If you’re a manager who is unsure of yourself as a manager, read some books like Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. Educate yourself with podcasts, books and articles so that you feel more confident.

To report what you've been doing to your manager, you can reflect at the end of the week, or add to your report during the week so that the end of the week email is really easy.

When working remotely, you don’t have face time with your manager and they don't see you working hard in the office. Be available, communicate when you are and aren’t available, and make sure your manager has what they need when they need it.

Never forget the power of the cc!! It's great for visibility, especially when working from home. Use it as an FYI to show your boss what you’re doing and to keep them informed of your work. You can ask your boss how they want you to use the cc. You can adapt your cc to your company culture.

What about using the cc when you are complimented? You can always cc on your “thank you” or your can forward them. The easier you make it for your boss, the better.

And, if you want to make sure you’re traceable, cc your boss so that when the absent hiring manager says you haven’t found any candidates, your boss has seen that you sent an “I’m here when you’re ready to respond” email, and can have your back.

Sometimes the hardest time of managing up is when you are coming back from a negative performance perception. People who are open to feedback and are curious about feedback are the ones who get themself off performance plans.

When on a PIP, those “what I’m working on” emails are critical. CYA, clarify and make sure you’re on the right track. Be transparent and ask for feedback.