Manage Up Coaching

HBR's Take On Managing Up

Did you know that HBR has been writing about "managing up" since at least 1980?

One of their most popular papers is called "Managing Your Boss," written by John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter.

They say, "If you forge ties with your boss based on mutual respect and understanding, both of you will be more effective."

They go on to suggest that there are five areas to focus on when it comes to managing your boss:

1. Understand and Curate Compatible Work Styles

In other words, understand how your boss prefers to communicate and expand your own communication style to complement.

2. Mutual Expectations

Wow, this is a big one!

If you're familiar with the Paulo Coelho book, The Four Agreements, you know that one of the agreements states, "Don't make assumptions."

We make assumptions about what people think, feel, and do all the time.

By focusing on mutual expectations, you pause that habit and ask yourself, 'Am I assuming what my boss expects, or do I know for sure?'

If you're not sure, it's time to ask questions.

3. Information Flow

This one is absolutely a science and an art.

The idea here is that we tend to underestimate the information that's important to share and overestimate the information that's less important to share.

In other words, experiment, tweak, and dial in the information that is consistently most helpful to share back and forth – it takes time and commitment, but it's totally worth the effort.

4. Dependability and Honesty

Prioritize developing trust – this seems obvious but it's often difficult to practice.

Only commit when you are *truly* committed and prioritize delivering what you say you will deliver on time.

And if something goes off track, if there's a perceived negative impact along the way, share that!

Yes it can feel scary. Yes it can feel vulnerable. Of course it does!

Belonging is one of our most cherished motivations.

If something goes wrong and we are concerned that we'll be perceived negatively, our subconscious will almost always want to minimize that impact and protect our belonging to our work community.

But honesty and vulnerability often have a tremendous impact on building deep, rich, and authentic relationships – this is the path to true belonging.

5. Good Use of Time and Resources

Similar to 'Information Flow,' experiment, tweak, and explore what's the best use of *time* when interacting with your boss.

I often ask my clients, "What makes for a great session?" This way, I learn how to make the best use of our time together.

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To read the paper yourself, you'll need an HBR subscription or to purchase the paper. If you'd like to consider doing so, click here. Of course, I am not affiliated with HBR, and I receive no compensation for linking to their paper.

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