The Problem with Managing Up

Given how many people write about the difference between "management" and "leadership" (and yes, I too have here), I find it interesting that we are required to "manage" up.

If leadership is to inspire and align, management is to direct and enforce. How is one supposed to then "manage up" to one's supervisor? 

The intent, of course, is to "manage" communication and perception but a good manager does not require this.

Each and every time I've managed staff, whether entry level or directors, I have made it very clear what I expect of them and what they can expect of me. If I am not getting what I need, I ask. I don't make it a game nor do I wait to pounce and find fault. I communicate often and openly, ensuring they have all the information they need to do their jobs well. They know to come to me when they need help and they always get some answer in a timely manner, even if it is "I'll find you as soon as I'm out of this meeting."

I've never asked any of my staff how difficult it was to manage up to me, but honestly, it's not something I've given much thought too—nor that I want them to. I consider it part of my job, not theirs, to be clear on what I need from them so that we all can do our jobs well.

So managing up is not only a misnomer, but part of the problem: we don't need employees worrying about managing up; we need managers communicating better to their employees, with candor and transparency, setting expectations and truly supporting their staff.

Have you had trouble "managing up"? Would more candor and support from your boss have helped?

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