Managing up is one of those things we all need to master. Why not see what we can learn from those who manage us? If anything, it’s a great place to start because there’s nothing at stake.
One smart cookie who learned to manage me well is Anna (not her real name). Some years ago I was told: “Anna is joining your team”. Anna, the ‘going nowhere’ girl. The plodder.
Clearly I needed to get better at managing up! I had no choice and I had to make the best of it. But how?
I wasn’t confident in Anna’s abilities. She’d been at the same level for years. So I hovered. I checked in daily with a million questions:
“Where are you up to?”
“What have you done with X?”
“What did they say about Y?”
“Have you thought of doing it this way?”
Question… after question… after question.
I was trying to figure out how she worked, what she knew and didn’t know.
Could I help her do the job better, develop her skills and make my job easier at the same time?
I wasn’t trying to be annoying or micromanage her. I didn’t know how else to work out what to do.
Lucky for me she was:
- gracious and
- smart. She
- never complained. She
- answered my questions, she’d
- admit it when she didn’t know something or had
- made a mistake. She would
- always follow through and then
- let me know what happened.
- She learned by my questions what I cared about and wanted to know. She
- started to pre-empt me so I didn’t have to ask anymore.
I learned that I could trust Anna to do – everything! I couldn’t believe it.
Once Anna started being more considerate of the people in other departments who helped us with our work everything fell into place. That’s what she learned through my questions. Sometimes that’s all it takes – a tweak in how you do things for your career to take off.
And I learned ten things from Anna about how to manage up. Plus a bonus: don’t assume that someone can’t, find out how they can.
My question for you is: “What have you learned about how to manage up from the people you manage?”