Manage your Manager, don’t let them manage you
Manage your Manager, don’t let your manager manage you. Let me share a secret with you. Your manager doesn't want to manage you. They want you to manage them. But first, what is managing up?
What is Managing up?
As an employee, it's important to take control of your own career and work environment. One way to do this is to "Manage Your Manager."
This means understanding your manager's expectations, communicating effectively with them, and taking initiative to address any issues or problems that arise. By doing so, you can shape your work environment to meet your needs and career goals, instead of being passively managed.
Why is it important to Manage up?
Managing up is a critical component of professional growth and career advancement. Managing up is the act of influencing and communicating effectively with one's superiors in order to achieve personal and professional goals.
It allows you to shape the narrative of your career, align your goals with those of your manager, and ensure that your voice is heard. By managing your manager, you can also build a strong relationship based on mutual respect and trust, which is essential for your professional development and success.
If you are an aspiring Engineering Manager, managing up is particularly important because it helps you understand the context of your projects, learn about the business priorities, and gain insights into the challenges that your manager faces. This knowledge is valuable in helping you make informed decisions and navigate your career effectively.
How to manage your manager?
If you want your manager to get out of your way, keep them informed about important things that are going on. By managing up, you are convincing your manager that you are ready for the next opportunity, you have more control, and if they are curious, they can ask you because you are leading the team and know more.
This doesn't apply to toxic and incompetent managers. We have all had those types of managers before, which is probably why we want to be better managers.
Here are a few ways you can manage up,
Manage up Examples
Keep them informed ✅
If you don't manage correctly by not keeping your manager informed and leaving them out of conversations, they will assume that they should step in more and that you need help.
❌ Not including them in any meetings, not using one on ones accurately.
✅ Give them a heads up on upcoming meetings that are important, give them a choice to attend, ask for their feedback and plan your one on ones by sharing important updates they might have missed.
Don't Assume, Ask 🤝
You might assume that your manager already knows, as they were in the meeting and that your manager is checking in with stakeholders. But don't assume. Could you ask what they know and keep them informed?
❌ Since you already know "X", I think "Y" makes sense.
✅ Here is what we discussed in the meeting. Please skip the points you are already aware of but if anything comes as a surprise, please let me know. These are the pros and cons for why I'd recommend "Y".
Notice the difference? In option 2, you are sharing what you observed so if they did miss something, they can catch up and give feedback.
Bring Solutions, Not Problems 💪
If you need help, feel free to ask and share some solutions. Don't just bring problems but bring solutions. If we do this, here are the pros and cons of it.
❌ This will not work as we don't have resources
✅ Here are a few ways we can make this work. If we do "X", it will take longer but if we do Y, we might be only delayed by a couple of days.
Be proactive 💯
Take the initiative to help your manager and be proactive in finding solutions to their challenges. Show them that you are a valuable member of the team and that you care about the success of the company.
Taking Initiative 👈
Taking initiative is another important aspect of managing your manager. Be proactive in seeking out new opportunities and responsibilities, and being open to feedback and suggestions. This will help you shape your career goals in that org.
Taking initiative can also improve your performance and reputation, and demonstrate your value in the company.
Ask for feedback 💬
Ask your manager for their thoughts on your performance and what areas you can improve. Be open to constructive criticism and actively listen to their feedback. Look into how feedback can be implemented. If you have counter points, present it correctly.
Share your aspirations 🏆
Let your manager know about your career aspirations and ask for their support. Work with them to align your goals and ensure that you have a clear roadmap for your career.
Be respectful and professional ✅
Always be respectful and professional when communicating with your manager. Avoid negative language and maintain a positive attitude, even in challenging situations. It is possible that you need time to think or are more vulnerable, try take a step back and assess the situation.
If your manager is on your side, you have a very strong ally. This helps open doors for you and allows you to take on more interesting projects.