Career Managing Up


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Last update: Tue, 09 Feb 2021 19:11:38 +0800

As long as we are in career for several decades, we deal with upper management on daily basis. The purpose of this gist is to help make you better equipped with strategic knowledge to maximize benefits as well as to mitigate misunderstandings in working under managers with specific or combination of different personalities. Armed with the right mindset, we can learn things from all types of managers and grow our career to next levels.
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DISCLAIMER



These notes are collected over years. Read them at your own risk. Use your own reasoning and logic before taking them into action.

There are always better approaches, ideas, thought patterns as always. That's how humans' intelligence evolving.

Each person's situation is different and unique in each circumstance.





The Right Mindset



Managing up is about consciously and deliberatively developing and maintaining effective relationships with supervisors, bosses, and other people above you in the chain of command.

Building and maintaining a successful working relationship with your boss requires communicating effectively .

Understanding the type of your boss is important so that you can adapt your communication and interaction style accordingly.


Stop Waiting for the Unicorn and Start Working Well with the Boss You Have

Stop complaining. Learn to adapt to your manager.

Your manager matters more than you for HR and higher management.


Your career matters more than your manager for yourself.

Your manager is not going to change his behaviors just for you. It's completely impossible to change any bosses' behaviors.

Each boss may be unique and there is no complete panacea. You have to combine multiple strategies.


Do not fall into the trap of “my boss should do this", "he should behave in this way". That will never happen with any boss.

It is your career that will suffer if you and your boss have a bad relationship.

Managing up is not about blind followership.


Almost all advices for each type are applicable for any types of manager however points mentioned in each are non-negotiable and must-dos for that type.

It's neither required to suck up nor required to be in rebellion. It's all about behaving in certain ways that benefit you and your boss.

Stop getting emotional at work.


Try to be objective and nonjudgemental.

Keep in mind that your boss has his own boss(es) to cater their needs and fulfill their satisfaction.

Only 1 out of 10 will work at the same workplace for entire life. It's important that we work in good terms with everyone at work for the relatively short period of our life.


Don't think too much. Get things down. Move on.

Only a very lucky set of people has chance to work under a perfect dream boss who is in align with their expectation, has mutual respects, positive influence and work atmospheres .

As long as you have managers in your career, you always have something to say about managers.


If you have prolonged repeatitive bad relationship with your manger, your career will be over in that work place. You must then learn about effective negotiation and communication skills.

No matter what the situation is, you're always free to choose how you react  to it.

After all, if management is forced into making more layoffs, they may choose to keep those who can handle their emotions, and work well under pressure. 


If you expect that anyone including your boss has to behave in a certain way for you to be happy, you'll always gonna be unhappy. Because the more people you have in your life, the more change they're gonna make.




Common Mis-alignments



Employee was told to do something he felt was wrong or incorrect.

Employee could not live up to a supervisor's expectations, because the expectations were too high or continuously changing.


Employee was promised a raise, promotion or important project, and it did not happen.

Employee was criticized frequently.

Another employee doing the same job made more money.


Manager has biased views towards some employees.

Customer snaps at you overly unfairly and your manager doesn't protect you.




1st - Access Your Manager



Carefully examine and note all characters and behaviours your manager.


Identify the nationality and origin of your manager. People from different nationality do and act the same way in some areas due to the prolonged years of stay during earlier life.

What is she ultimately trying to accomplish at this organization?

What does she value most (personally and professionally)?


How have past career experiences influenced what she does today?

What role does she envision you playing in her plans?

What does she expect from you?


What is your boss's workstyle personality? How does she interact with others?

What's her preferred mostly used communication patterns - in person/email/messenger?

Does she make decisions based more on data or hunches?


What are his concerns, challenges, and pressures?

What are his priorities?

What truly matters to her?


What are his pet peeves?

What does the organization expect from her?

What are her expectations for the team?


How much does she delegate?

When, to whom, how does she delegate?

Is he introverted or extroverted?





2nd - Access Yourself



What is my workstyle personality?

How do I like to interact with others?

How do I prefer to communicate?


What are my priorities and goals?

What do I really need to operate at my best?

What are my nonnegotiables?


In what ways am I compatible with my boss?

In what ways am I not compatible with my boss?

Is my boss really difficult or just difficult for me?


Am I the only one struggling?

What are my workplace strengths?

What are my workplace weaknesses?


Am I doing the job I was hired to do?

Is my job a good fit for me?

Do I bring the right attitude, energy, and motivation to be successful?


Would I want myself as an employee?

Do my coworkers think I am as great as I do?

How am I contributing to the situation (for better or worse)?


What am I resisting?

Do I like/love my job itself?

Do I like/love my organization?


Do I need this job (financially)?

Do I need this job (for experience/career development)?

Where am I on the scale of happiness/stress?


Where is my boss on the scale of difficulty?

What are the politics/organizational culture of my company?

Is my boss a unicorn or is his/her style pretty indicative of the overall management style?


Am I willing to make changes to my behavior and/or attitude?

Am I willing to try to understand my boss?

Do I want to thrive, solidify, or survive?


Am I a victim?

Can I manage up?

Is it worth the effort?


Do I even want to try?

Are my colleagues helpful?

Are my colleagues evil or backstabbing?


Do you tend toward introversion or extroversion?

In what ways are you the same or different from your boss?

What do you want more of or less of from your boss?


How are your respective introversion or extroversion preferences serving your needs?

How are your respective introversion or extroversion preferences serving your boss's needs?

What can you do differently, more of, less of to help you succeed with your boss?







Types



Dream Boss - person who totally gets/respects/trusts you. You feel motivated and empowered. Working with him is a delight and you would do anything for this boss. The relationship feels natural and easy.

Nightmare Boss – boss from hell. You dread coming to work.You come home from work every day exhausted and demoralized. Thought of him makes you furious. You're losing motivation daily. Sunday evenings feel like you're reporting to prison tomorrow.


A brand new boss, someone you’ve never met before - https://hbr.org/2014/12/how-to-handle-your-first-meeting-with-a-new-boss

A manager you don’t see face-to-face because she works in another location - https://hbr.org/2014/12/working-smoothly-with-a-virtual-boss

An insecure boss (hint: it’s important to know how to tame his ego) - https://hbr.org/2014/11/research-insecure-managers-dont-want-your-suggestions




Introvert

Extrovert

Advancer: focused on tasks and achieving results, taking actions; work oriented, demanding, seeks controls


Energizer: people person, enthusiastic, motivating others, tends to generalize/exaggerate, uses hunch to make decision

Evaluator: detail-oriented, factual, quality focused, seeks perfection, may overthink things

Harmonizer: diplomatic, agreeable, slow at taking actions, seeks stability, supportive


Micromanagers

Impulsives

Narcissists


Pushovers

Best Friends

Workaholics


Incompetents

Seagulls and Nitpickers

The Truly Terrible: Psychos, Tyrants, and Bullies





Introvert: Strategies



Take the initiative to meet.

Give them time to process and prepare.

Keep them in the loop.


Limit the impromptu "pop-in" meeting.

Embrace electronic communication - email, messenger

Don't be a chatterbox


Be OK with the silence. Don't make up stories about your boss' silence.

Give time. Introverts needs time to process bebfore responding.

Ask open-ended questions.


Be proactive in relationship building. Overcome your own introversion with proactive communication.

Respect their space. Understand his need for solitude and alone time.




Extrovert: Strategies



Listen to him talk.


Exhibit friendliness. If you lean toward introversion, then your interactions and communication preferences may not be aligned.

Don't take everything as gospel. Everything he says may not be actionable.

Speak up. Be straightforward and transparent. Don't be Wishy-washy with him.


Clarify and confirm on what he asks you to do. Recap action items before taking action. This will ensure things are exactly what he wants.

Get comfortable jumping into the discussion else you may lose opportunity to add value.

Get face time. Physically meet and talk to him. Engage him in conversations.


Explain your silence. "Give me a moment to think about it."

Re-fill your energy and have enough rest each weekend. Working for extroverts can be very draining sometimes.

Check in regularly and don't ghost - you stay in communication with him even if you're highly independent.


Participate in brainstorming session with him even if you're not keen.

Don't hijack his conversion in the middle. Wait for him to finish first.

Take responsibility for refocusing conversations when necessary.


Push back if you have too much loads to handle.

Listen to his ideas and help him sort out external processing.




Energizer: Nature



People focused


Move at fast pace

Bored by routine

Doesn't have lot of interests in details.


Desire to help others

Jump on board with new ideas

Energized by starting more than finishing


Loves brainstorming as he believes two heads are better than one.

Exuberant and outcoming

Love to get to know the team


Want to get to know you as person.

Wants others to get excited about his ideas

When stressed, may get sarcastic and unkind.





Energizer: Strategies



Build the relationship.

Think fast, move fast.

Get excited about his ideas.


Listen up.

Don't always point out problems with his ideas.

Plan and execute.


Double-check his ideas before taking actions.

Show your face. Doing work face-to-face will give you the opportunity to build relationship with him.

Master the art of pop-in if he likes about quick and open conversations.


Be creative with new ideas.

Praise them publicly and authentically.

Be positive and support new ideas from the outset.


Get involved in team projects and volunteer to lead.

Keep track of new projects and follow up before spending time on plans and details.

Meet with your boss regularly and get to know her as a person.


Seek guidance for priorities and then execute the details.




Advancer: Nature



Fast-paced. Move things quickly from one after another.

Focused on results than relatationship. Value results over relationship


Overcoming obstacles

Thrive on challenges

Come across as bossy or domineering


Seeks to take control

Cares about projects in beginning and middle of projects

Direct and forceful


Wants you to focus on their ideas and priorities first than yours.

Always living with endlessly new ideas.

Keeps on asking new and totally different tasks that are deviated from pre-agreed short-term goals.


Tends to stress or max out team capabilities, creating stress to whole team

Doesn't give me enough time to complete the job with high quality output.

Tends to make decisions without listening to team's feedback


Tracks each task on notes and seldom fail to take action

Promotes workaholism.

Seldom appreciates team's accomplishments as she is rushing to assign new tasks


Seldom appreciates team's accomplishments as she is rushing to assign new tasks

Seems to treat all tasks are equal and important.




Advancer: Strategies



Value results over relationships.


Speed up. Think extra steps ahead of your boss.

Be brief.

Be quick.


Be business-like and be gone.

Avoid analysis paralysis. Don't go extra miles for lengthy discussions or perfection.

Bring solutions, not problems.


Request for help but don't complain.

Ask what he needs and deliver it. Don't ask how you can get it done.

Do your homework as he likes to use time wisely.


Don't get mushy as this may indicate weakness to him. He may not care about emotion.

Be friendly but don't expect to be friends.

Be a good follower as he likes being boss and he likes you to be his beck and call.


Oppose with caution. Present opposing views in private.

Avoid being overly aggressive or insistent.

Get things done. Anticipate his needs and requests.


Focus on facts, tasks and ideas rather than people, emotion, worry.

Be quick, focused and get to the point.

Be prepared for things in advance before meeting him.


Take the initiative. Ask what needs to be done.

Do what you said you would do.

Get results and make stuff happen.


Don't try to manipulate - Being a disingenuous “yes man” in meetings, relentlessly flattering your boss, or presenting things as unrealistically good are bad habits.

Don't attempt to cover anything up - Even in situations where you really don’t want to disappoint, the truth will out. So when you make a mistake or something goes wrong, don’t blame others or try to make excuses, just own up to the situation immediately.

Focus on your effort and work on what matters most to him.


Relentlessly remember and accomplish his assigned tasks without forgetting them even if he seems to forgets (in fact, no) them.

Avoid unnecessary interaction.

Make sure you do clear communication and reporting at all times.


Don't provide data or speculation you just "think" or "guess". Be realistic.

Speed up your hardwork level in line with the boss.

Level up your hardwork level in line with the boss.





Harmonizer: Strategies



Focus on the team. He's happiest when the whole team is working well together and everyone is getting along.

Do your part to establish and maintain harmony.

Don't dramatize situations.


Help him make decisions.

Be a people person like him.

Slow things done if he's a methodical person. He needs time to process ideas and create plans.


Challenge and reward yourself if he did not single you out for a great opportunity or reward you for hard work.

Find a mentor if you can't get to learn things from him.

Be a team player and show genuine concern for your boss and coworkers.


Approach change and conflict slowly and with a cool head.

Offer support for decision making and include others.

Avoid venting in front of your boss;


Find other outlets to express your emotions.

Show how your ideas improve safety or team cohesion.

Keep track of your own successes.


Don't get involved in office politics - Working with the same people every day means lots of relationship management, and at least the occasional personal conversation, but commit yourself to staying professional.




Evaluator: Nature



Perfectionist

Holds highest standards or standards as per his assumptions





Evaluator: Strategies



Avoid surprises as he doesn't like to put on the spot.

Be prepared and do your homework before you present your ideas.

Raise your standards as always as he's a perfectionist.


Pay close attention to detail.

Focus on facts, not feeling as he uses hunch to make a decision.

Be patient, persistent and diplomatic as he needs time to think and give him what he needs.


Impress with details, graphs and figures as he thrives on them.

Respect guidelines, standards, processes and procedures if he's driven by such. Skipping process is abhorrent to them.

Manage your emotions.


Learn from criticism if he likes to poke holes and identify potential problems.

Do your homework and provide your boss with as much detail as possible.

Focus on producing fewer but better projects, and pay attention to detail.


Give your Evaluator Boss plenty of time to respond to requests.

Avoid emotional responses and try to stay objective in conflict.

Learn to love facts and support your ideas with evidence.


Separate work criticism from personal criticism – it's not about you as a person!




Micromanager: Nature



Believes in micromanaging brings success

Insecure about their capability


Mistrust on team members

Innately neurotic or obsessed with controlling things at every single step

Overly worried about things going wrong


Jumps in and interferes with everything I am doing.

Demands orderliness, control, and perfection.

Inflexible


Do not believe in openness, efficient working and decision-making.

Follow by the book

Will become upset or frustrated if you promise to do something you are unable to.


Focus on minuscule things




Micromanager: Strategies



Don't resist on getting micro-managed. Just follow it through.

Stay one step ahead. Anticipate and act.


Develop trust as much of micro-managing is due to distrust in your capability or fear of things going wrong. Work to build trust and rapport.

Keep your boss overly informed. Keep your Micromanager informed and in the loop.

Make sure you know stuff that is most important to him.


Seek feedback and don't take it personally.

Deliver high-quality work every time and earn trust.

Ask and recap. Ask lots of questions and his preferences to gather details of each assignment.


Learn and attend to their concerns.

Think back and reflect. Look at your own behavior. Are you the only complaining? Are there any coworkers who he leaves alone? Take an objective look at your attitude, productivity, work quality. Have you done everything perfect?

Give it time to build trust as building trust with him will take longer than other types of managers.


Overwhelm your boss with the data he wants.

Make sure you put what is important to your boss up front.

Update him frequently. Ask for specifics up front.





Hands-off: Nature



Many reasons behind hands-off: The one who likes to provide staff with complete freedom, too-busy boss, apathetic boss, technical expert

Too busy boss: can be extremely busy in his own, having overflowing plate as always, rushing from meeting to meeting, constantly crashing under deadlines

Apathetic boss: no show-up, no single care, also ghosts his own workload to you, provide zero leadership, avoids making decisions, rarely engaged, do bare minimum at last minute


Technical expert: no inclination to manage team, simply highly engaged in his own work




Hands-off: Strategies



Learn your boss's style so you can manage up accordingly.

Step up to the plate.


Be a self‐starter.

Get on your boss's calendar.

Take some risks.


Clarify expectations, boundaries, responsibilities, and decision making.

Become the go‐to person on your team.

Document and keep track of what you are doing.


Increase team communications and collaboration.

Find other mentors to help guide your growth and development




Impulsive: Nature



Oriented towards creativity, change or innovation


Tends to get bored with routine/business-as-usual jobs

Feel to prove himself by creating new thing if he's lack of experience. Sometimes people new to the role want to quickly prove their mettle

Lack of focus





Impulsives: Strategies



Try to see your boss's impulsivity as an energy that you can manage.

Appreciate the intention.

Reshape the energy. Wait for the storm to pass – don't respond to every whim and change.


Try to mirror your boss's mood.

Be excited about the things she is excited about, without going overboard.

Don't be a wet blanket on your boss's excitement.


Wait to bring in the facts.

Create guardrails so you don't go off the road.

Proactively discuss with your boss priorities and bandwidth.


Try to identify patterns and signs for your boss's impulsivity, then hedge your bets accordingly.

Recap, keep track, and triangulate with the team for clarity.




Narcissists: Nature



Driven by ego


Driven by his need to be treated as superiors to others

Protect his image and self-worth like no others

Always seek external validation


Conversation hoarder and interrupter

Sensitive to criticism

Blame others for their shortcomings


Exhibits toxic and negative emotions




Narcissists: Strategies



Respect, defer, and secure.

Demonstrate appropriate levels of respect.


Flatter.

Complimenting and stroking the ego of the Narcissist will keep you in his good graces.

Do not gossip about the Narcissist. It will get back to her.


Learn from them. Narcissists are often very successful, so try to learn something.

Appeal to their image and protect yours. Don't get sucked in. Narcissist are expert manipulators. Try not to get sucked into their orbit.

Remember, it is not about you; it is always about them.


Assess the level of narcissism and be prepared to leave.




Pushovers: Nature



Lets you do things on your own without too much resistance.

Unable to take a stand


Can't stick to a decision

Doesn't have courage of their convictions.

Changes his mind frequently.


Say this thing this week and completely changes his plan next week. He does it at least every month or frequently.

Lack of proper planning and thinking head.

Working style is fire-fighting mode daily or weekly


Flee from conflict or confrontation with other departments

Avoid accountability and put blames to other departments if something bad happens

Don't lead. Tend to go with the flow.


Can't say No

Fears feedbacks

Abandons advocacy. Don't expect him to stand up for you in times of difficulty.





Pushovers: Strategies



Get to know the Pushover. Learn about his experiences, fears, and ambitions.

Look to other high‐performers for constructive feedback, challenging projects, and developmental opportunities.

Keep your boss apprised of your projects and processes and their impact.


Fill the power vacuum with honorable intentions.

Encourage, support, and respect your boss.

Make her look good to avoid heightening her fear and insecurity.


Circumvent with caution.

Pay attention to the politics at play before you attempt to go around your boss to her boss.

Focus on your work and ignore the slackers around you.





Best-Friend-Forever: Nature



Feedback is notoriously difficult to give and to receive

When ppl suspect you and boss are BFF, he may treat you differently

Career stagnation and bad blood: he may resist you leaving. You may be hesitant to leave. May not provide opportunities for you to grow


Due to BFF nature, you may tend to overshare things which may come back to bite you during performance appraisals.




Best-Friend-Forever: Strategies



Be friendly, but not best friends.

Share some and save some. Don't share all private information out of courtesy.


Beware the over‐share (on either side).

Draw and maintain boundaries.

Get busy. Don't accept every invitation.


Include others in your friendship outings.

Mind your social media connections and sharing.

Don't flaunt the friendship.


Proactively ask for feedback.

Have the conversation when your friend becomes the boss.




Workaholic: Nature



Tends to be suffering pressure from above


Industry norms - Are other people with his position in similar companies having to work the same way?

Organization norms or merger/acquisitions - Some organization cultures drive manager to work harder with increasing goals each year.

Is he simply passionate about what he does?


Marital status or social circle - does he have family or friends to spend time together out of his office hours?

Does he treat work as his life?

Is he having an aim to climb up to next promotion?





Workaholics: Strategies



Weigh the pros and cons: A Workaholic Boss can help boost your career but often at the cost of increased stress and anxiety.

Know before you go: Do your homework on your boss, the organization, and the industry so you know what the work expectations are.

Figure out if your Workaholic Boss wants to see hours logged or work accomplished, then adjust accordingly. Give him what he wants.


If your Workaholic Boss is impressed by results, put your productivity into overdrive.

Align your boundaries with your boss's expectations.

Don't assume. Your boss may be firing off e‐mails at 8 p.m. just to get something off her plate; she may not need or want a response.


Promote your progress by keeping your boss apprised of your accomplishments.

Be prepared to make the sacrifice if that's what it takes (and is what you want).

There is no shame in being a workaholic yourself; just try not to impose that ethos on others





Incompetents: Strategies



Determine which type of boss you have – an Incompetent or a Fraud.

Check your own ego – is your boss Incompetent or are you just jealous?

Pinpoint where exactly the incompetence is.


Try a little tenderness – empathy goes a long way toward understanding an Incompetent.

Try to find something good about the Incompetent.

If your Incompetent needs to learn, be the one to teach.


Step up, compensate, deliver, and make your Incompetent look good. You will get noticed.

Don't rely on your Incompetent to be your mentor. Find someone else.

Exposing your boss incompetence can be dangerous, so proceed with caution.





Nitpickers: Nature



Likes to nitpick.

Dive into the most minuscule details.

Instead of praising, he focuses on the one error you miss out


Red pen is his best friend.

Dislikes inconsistencies.




Nitpickers: Strategies



Check yourself first, Are you the one being nitpicked? If you're mistake prone, clean it up.


Learn what they like.

Ask about their preferences, standards, and expectations.

Adopt their high standards and stick to them.


Learn to accept that is who they are.

Pay attention to when, where, and how your Seagull poops.

Anticipate and plan for the swoop.


Keep your Seagull Boss in the loop.

Keep calm and carry on.

Resist the urge to resist no mater what as resistance won't change his behaviour.





Seagulls: Nature



Makes lots of noises, create a big mess, leave it to the team to settle

Assigns you a project; when you're almost accomplished it with great results, he takes it over and kick you out, assign you to another project.

Lack of emotional intelligence


Lack of project awareness

Lack of trust

Easily affected with external events





Seagulls: Strategies



Check yourself first. Is it only you who he tends to always trouble? Find out the reasons why.

Anticipate the take-over patterns on which work he likes pick it for his own sake or benefits.

Try to identify what drives him.


Keep him informed

Find out what kind of involvement he wants or needs.

Keep calm and carry on.





Psychos, Tyrants, And Bullies: Strategies



HR may be helpful but only if your HR department has the right kind of power.

If you do confront the bully, plan your conversation wisely and know that it will likely backfire.

Don't draw your colleagues in or expect them to help you.


Mediation probably won't work, but it might be worth a try.

Your boss's boss might be her ally, so tread carefully if you are thinking of going over the Truly Terrible's head.

Think long and hard about blowing the whistle.


Adopt a survivor mentality.

Distance yourself.

Protect your psyche – don a golden shield.


Maintain your professionalism and productivity.

Stay out of the line of fire as much as you can.

Activate your support network and take care of yourself.


Document everything, just in case you go the legal or HR route.

Plan your exit: Get your résumé and other docs in order.

Getting fired is not the worst thing to happen.


Doesn't treat team with respect.




Flip-flopper: Nature



Frequently impulsively plan something which is later abandoned

Doesn't know what he wants.


Tends to blame on something that he asks you to do but he forgot

Changes his mind at last minute and our whole team has to redo everything from scratch.




Flip-flopper: Strategies



Confirm his ideas, tasks, decisions IN WRITING


Keep him informed

Request for approval before taking actions

Document everything





Talking Machine: Nature



95% talking, 5% listening

When she starts to listen, her mind is elsewhere, not absorbing other people's ideas and explanations, putting her in constant misunderstanding or confusion.