Managing up ⬆️
Part of being a good Leader is about supporting your own Leader and helping them to be successful. By making their life easier you’ll set yourself up for a greater level of success in the process. It’s not enough to just be thinking about the needs of your direct team, you need to consider the needs of your leader and anticipate what they need to steer the ship in the right direction.
How do you manage up?
1) Priorities - talk to your leader and find out what their quarterly goals are. They may have communicated this with you already, but not always. Understanding what’s important to them helps you to align and ensure you’re prioritising the right work.
“What are your top 3 priorities this quarter?”
“What can I do to support you in achieving them?”
2) Communicate - now you know what your leader’s priorities are, double down on communication. Make sure you communicate regularly, and proactively and use their preferred communication channel around these specific areas.
3) Always have a plan - bring the plan for that challenge or project you’re working on to your next 1-to-1 for your leader to review. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s the first draft. It’s there to demonstrate you have given the challenge or project some thought and you’ve put your thoughts down on paper. Your leader should pick holes in it and help you make it better.
4) Raise flags, and come up with solutions - your leader will want to know about any “canaries in a coal mine” situations. Raise the flag as soon as you identify a problem and think about the options, again write them down in a document and do some homework first. This will demonstrate you have given it some thought and are ready to talk about solutions when you connect with your leader. When doing your homework, think about what questions your leader will ask you or challenge you with when you present your potential solutions. Answer these questions:
What are potential solutions?
Is there a short-term relief/workaround option?
What are the pros and cons of each solution?
What are the risks you have identified?
Is it going to cost the department any money?
Is this solution going to impact the employee or customer experience?
5) Visibility - your leader is working at a higher level, and you’re closer to the ground and your team. It’s important to remember that. Ensure you’re providing your leader with enough insights and awareness of what is going on in your day-to-day. This demonstrates that you’re thinking about your own work, and their needs and also gives them the knowledge and comfort that you’re working on the right areas.
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