Tips on Managing up!

A member wrote in with the following:

“I am learning new information every day with my new job and figuring out how to manage up (and down) is becoming a priority”

Here are tips based on authors/experts I’ve interviewed.

  1. Focus on the Work. Inevitably, there are times when you and a boss have a disagreement. Try and keep the conversation away from the personal and ON the work. Fran Hauser was a Fireside chat guest at LadyDrinks this past January. She cited an example in “The Myth of the Nice Girl” where a boss announced to a team that a project was dead. The problem is that he didn’t address it with the Team Leader who had been managing both the project and the personnel assigned to it. The Team leader later took her boss aside and explained that he wouldn’t continue to get the best work out of her if her team didn’t respect her. Language she used ““I have been struggling with something that I need to talk to you about. I think its important for our relationship and my ability to contribute to the company. It affects my ability to be an effective manager if they are going to question me.”

2. Acknowledge that your boss is a person. My mindset coach Jen Groover once said to me, “You would be such a powerful leader if you could cultivate more compassion.” Make an effort to understand who your direct boss is as a person and lead with empathy, because they are–after all– a person!

3. Align Your Needs With His or Her Goals. When I pitch for venues and speakers for LadyDrinks I remember to share why it’s a ‘win’ for the other party as well. Similarly, listen to the goals your boss is articulating. How can you align your ‘ask’ to be on a project or an ‘ask’ to get a promotion to helping your boss reach his or her goal?

4. Anticipate His or Her Needs. …My grandma often said, look beyond what people want, and think about what they need. Managing up basically means doing whatever YOU can to make your boss’s job easier In the “Myth of the Nice Girl” Hauser talks about a time that she was promoted to a higher position. why? Because she anticipated her boss’s needs and rose to meet the demands before he/she even asked.

5. Get Ahead of Mistakes and Own it. If something goes wrong, get ahead of the mistake and admit/share. But also come to the table with a solution.

6. Share what assets you bring to the table. Managers are busy people. At a recent assertiveness workshop at a biopharma company, we roleplayed a junior asking their boss for a raise. Don’t assume that your manager knows the details of your day to day. It’s okay to remind them that of the assets do you bring to the table. Better yet, how do you complement your manager’s strengths or weaknesses?

7. Honor your boss’ time.  I like to send an agenda ahead of a call or meeting so we stay on track and cover off on all points. I like to be on time and finish on time. It shows that I respect the other person’s time. Sometimes, I will send a recap of our meeting, so I don’t forget any action items. And I like to overshoot on the deadline. If I get my materials in before the deadline, then great! But I want to give myself a big enough deadline to get what I said I would get done–done.

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