managing up

Mon Jun 20 2022

This great content on "managing up" is copied from an amazing thread I read on twitter. The author is Wes Kao Twitter and I surely recommend following her.

Thread Content

Here’s a secret about managing up:

The more you manage up, the more your boss will recognize your value.

It’s a Jedi mind trick.

Let your boss think they’re managing you… But in reality, YOU are managing THEM.

Here are 13 principles for managing up: If you don’t manage up, you’ll waste time on:

· Needless back-and-forth · Avoidable misunderstandings · Confusion on how you’re adding value

Work is hard enough as it is. Not managing up makes it harder.

Luckily, it's easy to start managing up & you'll see immediate benefits.

Your boss will believe you’re

✔️ Adding a ton of value ✔️ Worth investing in ✔️ Worth advocating for

They’ll feel positive, warm, and grateful for you.

It's win-win.

Here's how to do it:

Embrace managing up.

🚫 “It’s my boss' job to manage me. I’ll manage up when I’m promoted.”

✅ “I shouldn’t have to manage up. But if I do, I'll take control & further my career.”

It might not be fair, but the truth is you get promoted once you’ve already been doing the job.

Make the best use of time & focus on the punchline.

🚫 “This happened, then this other thing, this important thing that’s completely buried, and then this other thing.”

✅ “Here’s the minimum backstory, so we can spend time on the juicy stuff.”

Unroll available on Thread Reader

Show your thought process.

🚫 “I recommend this.”

✅ “I recommend this because X. My criteria/assumptions were A and B. The potential trade-off is Y, but seems manageable because Z. I vetted a range of options [insert options] and found [my recommendation] best fits our needs.”

Offer solutions and flag issues.

🚫 “This is a problem.”

✅ “This is a problem. I suggest doing X.”

✅ “This is a problem. I’m not sure how to solve, but wanted to flag it. My hunch is to monitor for now because X, but let me know if we should brainstorm what to do.”

Turn complaints into opportunities.

🚫 “This process is terrible.”

✅ “This process isn't ideal because X. I’d like to update to Y process instead, which should be cheaper/faster/easier. Do you agree if I make the change this week?”

Use information hierarchy.

Put your recommendation at the top, then context below.

This allows folks to read as much or little of the context as they need.

🚫 [Action items, backstory, bottlenecks, and context all jumbled together]

✅ 👇

Keep your boss in the loop.

🚫 [Silence]

✅ “We have 2 weeks until the deadline. We’re at 33/50 students, and with X leads in the pipeline, it's not enough to hit our goal. So this week, I’ll reach out to 100 new leads. I'd love to get your input on Y--could we review tmrw?”

Control your own actions.

🚫 “Micromanagers are the worst. I wish they'd get off my back and just let me do my job.”

✅ “I wonder what’s making them feel the need to micromanage? I'll review how I’m keeping them informed & what success looks like so I can show I’m handling it.” You might have a micromanager… Or you might have a boss who knows they’re ultimately responsible for anything their team does (including your work).

They want to make sure projects are on track & their team’s output meets the bar for excellence.

Help them help you.

Proactively assert what to do.

🚫 “What should I do?”

✅ “I recommend X. Here's rationale, data, or examples of why this will work. The risk is Y but we can address by Z. If you agree, I’ll start by doing [first step].” Don’t only ask questions. Share your point of view too.

A great question can be game-changing, but don't expect to ask "why" and think it'll change everything.

🚫 “Why? [Mic drop]

✅ “Why? My POV is [insight]. I'm not 100% sure yet. Curious how ya’ll are thinking about it."

Take charge of the process.

🚫 “I’ll wait until my boss tells me to manage up more.”

✅ “My boss is busy with their job, plus a bunch of worries I don’t know about. They might feel awkward asking me to manage up more, so I'll take the reins & manage up proactively." Know when to get out.

🚫 “My boss undermines my work, throws me under the bus, and blames me for no reason. Managing up doesn’t work.”

✅ “Managing up works, but not in a toxic environment. I'll find an org that’s a better fit AND manage up to a boss who’s eager to work w/me.”

Expect to manage up forever.

🚫 “I’ll only have to manage up when I’m junior.”

✅ “I’m ready to manage up even if I’m 15+ years into my career.”

You might assume increased seniority means less managing up.

Ironically it's the opposite. Senior folks are often BEST at it.

That’s it for today.

If you found this valuable:

  1. Follow me for threads on leadership, education, marketing → @wes_kao

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