Managing Your Manager
My name is Jordan Thibodeau. I’m the community manager for Silicon Valley Investors Club, a free investment community for current and former tech employees. I’ve written Highbrow courses such as “Mastering your conversations,” “Building a network for success,” and “Bouncing back from failure,” and I’ve partnered with my good friend Joe Ternasky to write this course. Joe has managed many large teams of employees at multiple leading Fortune 500 companies and, in fact, was even once my manager! Working with each across the manager/employee divide has taught us that a major key to finding success and fulfillment within your professional life is cultivating a strong, healthy working relationship with your direct manager. With these lessons in hand, together, Joe and I are going to share our knowledge with you so that you, too, will possess the best tools to excel in your career.
About this Class
This class is about management, but not in the typical sense. When most people think about management, they envision assigning tasks to team members or administering disciplinary action. Thus, most people think of management as facing downward. Unfortunately, managing down will limit your upward mobility and job satisfaction by allowing you to neglect the one thing that most reliably leads to career advancement: your relationship with your direct manager. This class aims to teach you how to manage up by redirecting your view of management upwards toward your direct manager.
You and your manager are in this together—your success or failure will reflect on your manager, and their success or failure will impact your opportunities. To help you stay organized throughout this course, we have created this Managing Your Manager Journal. If you’d like to take advantage of the complementary course materials we’ve created, then please follow that link and follow the instructions within. As an incentive for you to complete this course, the final exercise on the Managing Your Manager Journal will be made available to you on your last day of this course.
By the end of this class, you will learn the following skills:
• How to recognize the three fallacies that prevent people from managing up
• How to study your manager like an anthropologist
• How to prevent management miscommunication
• How to fully utilize 1:1s with your manager
• How to deliver bad news to your manager
• How to discover the key partners who influence your manager’s view of your performance
• How to avoid being blindsided by your performance reviews
• How to learn about succession planning within your company
• How to present yourself as the best candidate to succeed your manager
• How to build credibility with your manager to get approval for ambitious initiatives
• How to build career momentum during your first 100 days at a company
• How to discover your manager’s goals
• How to embed yourself in your company’s culture
• How to help your manager get promoted
Let’s get started!
Lesson 1. The Three Managing Fallacies that Prevent Us from Achieving Our Career Potential
“The biggest abuses in society happen when people are not able to communicate and not able to connect.” —Heather Brooke
In our first lesson, let’s explore some of the reasons that we don’t already all manage our managers.
Why We Forget to Manage Up
There are three fallacies that convince us we shouldn’t manage up:
Hard work will set us free. We often believe that if we work hard enough, we’ll earn the right to work in a vacuum and ignore the larger goals of our company. We think that good work will naturally be recognized and rewarded, and that reliable, solid performances should be recognized and rewarded without company politics getting in the way. Unfortunately, these are myths. Unless you align your goals with those of your direct manager, your effort won’t get you anywhere, and your career will stagnate.
Our managers should be able to read our minds. It’s easy to feel like our managers should be able to interpret our body language, word choice, and facial expressions to independently realize what we’re thinking or feeling. We sometimes expect our managers to read our minds and don’t fully explain what we want or mean as a result. However, this fails to consider that managers are not only responsible for us; they are also responsible for themselves, the rest of their team members, and their relationships with their managers and peers. By making the choice to verbally communicate your needs to your manager, you’ll strengthen their confidence in you and improve everyone’s productivity.
Our job is insignificant. It’s easy to develop tunnel vision and focus only on the things that most immediately impact us. However, in large corporations, each person’s impact is widespread. Your job may be focused on an assigned role (accounts payable, direct sales in a certain city, or designing back-end systems, for example), but what you need to remember is that your responsibilities are actually just a small fraction of the hundreds or thousands of tasks that your company must execute in order to remain solvent. Unless your personal goals are perfectly in line with the goals of your company, then becoming blinded by tunnel vision will lead to conflicts. If you are clearly unwilling to sacrifice some of your own goals for the greater good of your employer, then when it comes time for the company to buckle down and cut back, you may be the first out the door.
Reflect on the three fallacies that prevent us from managing up and write down which apply to you in the lesson labeled “Three Fallacies” in your Managing Your Manager Journal.
We’re off to a good start. For our next lesson, think about what you know about your boss…we’re going to be discussing how to get to know your direct manager.
Jordan and Joe
Managing Your Manager Teachers
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