Books, Professional Development

Book 383: Managing Up – Rosanne Badowski and Roger Gittines

Badowski, Rosanne and Roger Gittines - Managing UpMy final foray, at least for the time being, into professional development was Badowski’s Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship with Those Above You, and if I’m completely honest it’s the only one I should have read.

I enjoyed the “theory” and the “professional opinions” in the Harvard Business Review compilations I read, Managing Up (The 20-Minute Manager Series) and HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across, but neither of them had the wit, the humor or the charm of this book. Seriously, there is something to be said about reading a book that could be an incredibly boring (or pedantic) subject that makes you laugh out loud or giggle to yourself on public transportation. They all provide great advice, but this book offered the advice through the art of storytelling and not the other way around.

I’m serious though, Ro, as I like to think of her because we’re obviously BFFs since I read her book, is hilarious. She’s full of so much sass and spunk that she almost made me want to leave higher ed and join the “evil” corporate world. Most of this is from her humor,

“Although I’ve evolved from a relatively easygoing person to a potential Boston Market hijacker, I am a study in patience compared to Jack.” (44)

Seriously, go read some more of the quotes below. Aside from that, her practical advice and point of view were excellent. This book gave me the best tips and tricks to make myself a better employee regardless of if I’m managing up. The primary example of this was her 10-minute (or 5- or 3- or 2-) turn around time when you get something. I immediately implemented this and it’s great!

“Ninety-eight percent of my job is follow-through, and 98 percent of problems are related to lack of follow-through. By shortening the umbilical between the initiating request and the appropriate action, you can cut way down on the whoops factor that plagues many operations. A ten-minute rule is very helpful. Set a tight time limit on when to initiate action. Better yet, use a five- or a three- minute rule. Challenge yourself to immediately pick up the phone or crank out an e-mail. Once you discover how much you effectiveness and productivity have increased compared to those who don’t use the ten-minute rule, I guarantee your self-confidence will skyrocket.” (36)

You get whatever it is off your desk to the next person, or to whoever can respond or follow up and then you move on to the next project. Obviously there are things that require more time, but this is some seriously good advice.

Seriously, I can’t say much more about how wonderful this book was. Just look at the chapter titles:

  1. Chemistry
  2. Trust
  3. Confidence
  4. Impatience
  5. Energy
  6. Resilience
  7. Humor
  8. Common Sense
  1. Preparedness
  2. Adaptability
  3. Simplicity
  4. Fairness
  5. Communication
  6. Teamwork
  7. Passion and Purpose

As much as all of this seems like common sense, she really added a lot to each of the titles. Seriously, having read these last few books I’m starting to wonder if I should look into an MBA or MPA. I’m not seriously considering it at the moment, but I actually really enjoyed reading about management and the theories that go into it. Her advice was excellent and I would most definitely take a class she taught!

Recommendation: READ THIS. Even if you don’t have issues with management or aren’t having a mini personal career crisis. It was a quick and hilarious read and I plan on buying a copy in the near future to put on my professional development bookshelf (AKA my messy desk at work).

Opening Line: “For more than fourteen years, I’ve been a human answering machine, auto-dialer, word processor, filtering system, and fact-checker; been a sounding board, schlepper, buddy, and bearer of good and bad tidings; served as a scold, diplomat, repairperson, cheerleader, and naysayer; and performed dozens of other roles under the title of ‘assistant’ for a man dubbed by Fortune in 1984 as one of the ten toughest bosses in America.”

Closing Line: “By managing up you make an investment that pays a handsome dividend in satisfaction and self-respect.” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)

Additional Quotes from Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship with Those Above You
“Resilience has got to be one of the critical qualities for anyone in business—the ability to bounce back, quickly whether someone is being a jerk, the markets stink, or your biggest competitor steals your best customer. There is no point in crying. Get back on the horse, stick your chin out, and get on with the fight. Get on with winning. That’s what business is all about. I’m not talking about resilience, though, when I say that a great assistant is forgiving. Resilience comes from your headand your nerves and guts. Forgiveness comes from your heart.” (xiii, Foreword, Jack Welch)

“Good managers must allow people to act on their behalf and live with the consequences. In return, employees must adopt the established agenda and make it of paramount personal and professional importance. If those two parts of the equation aren’t present, the relationship may not explode outright, but it’s not likely to be as strong, productive, and satisfying as it could be, should be, and—as far as I’m concerned—must be.” (26)

“Having worked with Jack Welch for more than fourteen years, I’m hardly the right person to propose a two- or three-year cap on assignments. But if I were starting out in today’s business environment, which features such rapid and thoroughgoing change, I think I would be inclined to move from job to job more frequently. I’m not necessarily advocating hopping from company to company as long as challenging opportunities are present. Even so, it’s probably not going to hurt your prospects the way it once would have when cradle-to-grave longevity was more common.” (33)

Documenting why you screwed up is no guarantee you won’t do it again. If there’s a problem, take just enough time to find out what happened, fix it, and move ahead. Business is about today and tomorrow. Chances are that what was important yesterday won’t be relevant very far into the future. And if it is, it will make itself felt in the established culture of the organization, not by moldering away in some filing cabinet (or the digital equivalent).” (50)

“I’ve learned that if you spend too much time worrying about making mistakes, you never make history.” (56)

“A guaranteed way to short-circuit your success at managing up is to attempt to block the flow of ideas from the individuals below to the person above. Let ’em rip: suggestions, complaints (always accompanied by a proposed solution), good news and bad. Real-world ideas and information are precious commodities. Turn yourself into a pipeline and feed the boss what he or she needs to know.” (69)

“Managing up can probably be accomplished without humor. But why would you want to? And I’m not so sure that you can manage up to anywhere near maximum effect without it. Grimness and gloom can be immense burdens. There’s nothing that lightens the load like a little laughter.” (98)

“When the boss comes first, it doesn’t stifle individualism and excellence; rather, it allows all the other stars to shine more brightly. We win when the boss wins; the boss wins when we win.” (100)

“…managing up is first and foremost the art of saving time for those above you and helping them to prioritize in the face of almost overwhelming demands on their time and attention.” (135)

“As far as I’m concerned, nagging is a special and important communication skill for those who manage up. You may use another term, if you prefer. ‘Making suggestions,’ ‘being persistent,’ ‘offering timely reminders,’ or ‘nudging’ would do just as well, but whatever it’s called, it amounts to not dropping the subject until some form of resolution occurs. To manage up effectively, you need to be brave enough to persist; otherwise the issue will remain open. It doesn’t pay to take the easy way out by moving on to new business, especially if the old business it the kind that gets nastier and messier the longer it awaits action.” (168)

“If managing up isn’t taking hold in your organization, it may reflect lackluster teams or a halfhearted commitment to teamwork. The deficiency may start one rung up the ladder from where you are, or be spreading down from the top of the organization. What should you do? Go to work on your team and make it a model for the rest of your company. Success breeds success.” (184)

“…keep passionately focused on your purpose no matter what kind of surprises come your way. That kind of single-mindedness helps keep your emotions from taking over when unexpected frustrations and disappointments occur.” (198)

“What you plan for one day can change in the blink of an eye. In that same blink, new opportunities make themselves available all around you. Flexibility and willingness to embrace the opportunities give you an endless runway.” (202)


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