Episode 61: Managing up with Mary Abbajay

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About this Episode

Welcome to Real Job Talk, Mary Abbajay! Mary is a speaker, consultant, and trainer who works with managers and teams to create productive workplaces. She also teaches at the university and post-graduate level, speaks at numerous conferences, and is an active volunteer. Mary is the CEO of the Careerstone Group, and the author of Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.

Mary wants to make the world a better place by making the workplace a better place. We asked Mary what the biggest challenge has been in the workplace over the last year, and she talks about how teams, managers, and companies weren’t prepared for remote work.

Many people figured out how to manage up when they were in the office, but were lost when everything went remote. Bosses changed their approaches and life became complicated.

In the beginning of the pandemic, Mary taught managers some skills about remote work such as learning how to manage with results and staying connected. She saw that managers didn’t know how to juggle everything and also manage remotely, and she reminds us to have empathy for our managers too.

Managing up isn’t about sucking up and licking boots. It’s about managing that relationship and making sure it’s working well for you, your boss, and your organization.

Keys to managing up: understanding the manager has influence over our career, and we can’t change them. People who manage up well understand that adapting how we react to others is an empowering skill.

You know The Golden Rule - treat others how you want to be treated. For managing up, try The Platinum Rule -- learn how others like to be treated and then do that. When you give others what they need, it builds trust. Read your boss and how they communicate in order to figure out what will work best for them.

Things to look for in your boss: are they focused on tasks or the big picture, do they have a fast-paced or slower work style, and do they like sharing a lot of info or just the highlights. Once you’ve assessed their style, you need to decide how you can and want to adjust.

Mary has a conversational template for preferences, priorities and pet peeves….it’s your job to have it with them to build a shared framework for how the relationship will work. LCLD Manage Up HO_2020
You can have a check-in with them using this doc individually or as a team. Learning about them will change the dynamic of how you work together.

How do you get better at managing up? First, have the conversation. Train yourself. See who is successful with the boss, and observe them ask them what works. A little of self-awareness, responsibility, and be willing to share new things grows this skill like any other.

Mary tells a great story about a micromanager boss and how she changed their dynamic by reading her and how to best work with her

Never assume that your boss knows what you’ve accomplished, are working on, or how valuable you are. It’s on YOU to show them how fabulous you are. Keep them in the loop and stay on their radar. Give until they tell you they don’t want it.

Big rule: use that cc unless your boss doesn’t like it. The power of the cc is to have your boss know what you’re up to, but also to keep them in the loop so they aren’t caught unaware.

Talk about work boundaries, your environment, and if and how you need help with flexibility.

There are different types of bosses with keys to each:

The “Normal” Boss. This category covers most poeple, whether they are introverts or extroverts, and across different management styles, like advancers, harmonizers, and energizers.

The keys to an normal but introverted boss are to be proactive, stay on their calendar, tell them what you want to talk about, and give them time to speak. Manage your chatting….it drives them nuts! The key to an normal "evaluator" boss: they love details and accuracy. Learn to love the details and have the facts when you meet with them.

“Difficult” bosses come in different styles, like micromanagers, impulsive boss, seagull boss, ghost-boss, work-a-holic, and “friend boss.” The key to micromanagers is to over-communicate and show them that you will do things the way they want you to. They need to get what they need.

“Toxic” basses are those who humiliate, debase, abuse, bully, or are narcissists. Bad people who create toxic work environments.

The main key to a toxic boss is to: 1. Get out!

You can’t change an asshole, a narcissist, or a bully. Get out. If you find yourself working for a narcissist, you do need to be a kiss ass until you get out, but you have to determine how long you can do that and you protect your professional image. Remember they will raise themselves by pulling you down.

In general, managing up is about finding the right strategy that will work with “this boss.”

Mary has a great talk on YouTube about successfully working remotely. She advises to stay on the radar, invite your boss for a virtual, meaningful coffee. Ask your boss their preferred communication channel, and USE IT. Ask for feedback on what’s working well and not well, and ask if they’d like to see you change something, and tell them what you think would help. Stay positive and show some concern for your boss. Stay away from negativity and complaints without actions or suggestions Being a complainer is a drain and will do nothing for your career.

We asked about working with someone who is fundamentally different from us (e.g., an extrovert working with an introvert). Mary's advice: bring your best authentic self that the situation calls for and build the muscles that will push you to work with others.

As always, you need to manage yourself first before you manage others You are the CEO of your career.

The book: Managing Up: How to Move up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss
LinkedIn Course: Managing Up as an Employee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryabbajay
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-abbajay-managingup/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryabbajay/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryabbajay
Company: Careerstone Group