The concept of “managing up” has been around for a while. It refers to the actions you can take as an employee to make your boss’s job easier, thus strengthening your relationship with your manager and making your own job smoother as well.
But like so many things about work culture, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the ways employees can manage up. If you’re one of the many workers in Australia no longer spending five days a week in an office, you may have to rethink how you can go about managing up at your job.
Here are 5 tactics you can start using now to manage up, even if you’re working remotely or in a hybrid situation.
1. Take facetime with your boss seriously
The most important step of managing up, no matter your current working situation, is securing regular one-on-one time with your manager. These meetings are the moments when you can share with your boss what you’re up to, gather information on what they are focused on, and adjust your working strategy based on all that information.
If you’re not seeing your boss physically in the office every day or week, then it’s going to take some diligence to make sure you’re getting in regular one-to-one meetings (at least twice a month is our recommendation).
If you don’t already, make sure you have time set off in your calendar to meet with your boss for an hour or so, just the two of you, over a video call (if in-person isn’t possible). If your boss has to skip one of these meetings, it’s up to you to make sure it’s rescheduled instead of missed altogether.
Without these regular face-to-face meetings, it will be almost impossible to manage up, so make it a priority.
2. Use shared calendars to your advantage
You are probably already using a calendar like Outlook or Google Calendar to stay on top of your own schedule. If you want to be a pro at managing up, however, then you should also use these calendars to keep abreast of the big events coming up for your manager.
During one-to-ones with your boss, you should be asking them what’s on their schedule and how you can support them. When they mention a big date—a presentation, a deadline, or a meeting—mark it in your calendar, so you can make sure you’re helping your boss as much as possible (while still managing your own workload, of course).
3. Make it easy for your boss to get updates from you
For managers who have large teams, it can be a big challenge to get updates on all the moving parts. You can take away some of this pain for your boss, and avoid having them chase you up, by self-reporting in a simple, accessible way.
For example, imagine you’re working on a report and want to make sure your boss knows how it’s coming along. Instead of waiting until you have a meeting with your boss, take a proactive approach and send them an update in a different medium.
This could be as simple as an email or Teams/Slack message, or you could use a tool like Loom to record a short video which your boss can then watch on their own time. Doing this means your boss won’t have to go out of their way to get information from you—something you both can appreciate.
4. Clearly communicate your schedule
There are lots of perks that come with a flexible schedule. But for managers, flexible schedules can make it difficult to keep track of when staff is available.
You can help alleviate this problem by making your own time commitments crystal clear, especially if your schedule isn’t consistent week to week. Make sure to let your boss know ahead of time what hours you’ll be available for meetings, when you’ll be working on specific projects, and when you won’t be available.
Not only does this make it easy on your boss and colleagues, but it makes it easier to balance your work and personal schedules.
5. Speak up when you need help
Working from home can often feel isolating, especially if you’re struggling in some way with your current role.
In an office, you have plenty of opportunities to compare notes with colleagues, and you’re far more likely to have people check in on you when it’s obvious you’re having a bad day.
Rather than suffering in silence, it’s important that you voice your concerns to your manager. Even the best bosses aren’t mind readers, and a good manager will appreciate you bringing forward your concerns respectfully.
To really master the art of managing up, take the time to think of potential solutions to the issue before speaking to your manager. This has dual benefits—your manager won’t have to shoulder the burden of finding a solution on their own, and you’ll be more likely to get the outcome you think is best.
The working world as we know it continues to change in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. As your own role changes in your client organisation, you can make the most of your job by rethinking how you interact with your colleagues, including your managers.
If in doubt please contact your Rowben account manager for assistance.