I wanted to look into the idea of “managing up” because every job I’ve held my direct manager has gone out for maternity or medical leave and this has thrown me into a different management structure than what I was used to. And then when my manager has returned it was yet another adjustment.
My immediate response to this book: They were not lying when they said 20 minutes! I actually read this book twice before I sat down to write my response. The good part is, that where I felt this book kept me wanting, they recommend reading the HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across, also by the Harvard Business Review and I already have a copy from the library!
I think where this book would be really valuable is as a pocket resource. When you’re having an issue and you can’t quite remember what you should do you flip to the page and read the quick advice. I found most of the advice helpful, if a bit vague. A lot of it seemed to be focused on generalizations.
It is hard to say what was and wasn’t helpful in the book. Some, like asking for clearly defined goals and expectations I’ve already done, others I will slowly apply to see how they work. I know this book was such a quick read that I’m not sure how much actually sunk in, but there were a few key passages I tagged to remember. Hopefully, the next two books I read about “managing up” will build on everything in this one.
Recommendation: I think this will be a great resource once I’ve read a bit more in-depth about the idea of “managing up.” I’m interesting in the rest of the 20-Minute Manager series by Harvard Business Review and I might seek them out after I’ve had some time to digest this one.
Opening Line: “Nurturing a productive, mutually beneficial relationship with your manager starts with you, the direct report.”
Closing Line: “Remaining attuned for signs of regression—and nipping them in the bud—will ultimately make progress more likely.” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)
Additional Quotes from Managing Up
“As presumptuous as it may seem, it’s also important to clarify your own work style with your manager in the interest of practicality and transparency. But don’t forget the power difference discussed earlier: Show a willingness to modify your own approach to arrive at a mutually suitable style of interaction with your boss. In leading by example, you may find that your manager extends the accommodation in the other direction, adjusting her practices a bit to suit what matter most to you.” (17-19)
“Setting clear expectations is essential to building a productive relationship with anyone, and your boss is no exception. Though it’s a two-way street, give your manager’s priorities top consideration—after all, she’s in charge. Identify what she wants from you and do your best to deliver it.” (23)
“No matter how clearly you and your manager set mutual expectations, you won’t be able to control every outcome. And when you can’t find common ground, more often than not, you will be the one who has to give. The better you get at managing up, the more often you’ll agree with your boss and the less vexing compromises will seem when you don’t. As the relationship gets stronger, the need for effort diminishes, but it doesn’t disappear. Nor does the power difference between you.” (29-30)