Managing Upwards – Remote Working Edition
The result of a global pandemic and the national lockdown six months ago meant millions of workers had to quickly make the switch to remote working (if the job allowed), and with the recent government announcements, this looks set to continue for a while. Home offices were hastily put together in dining rooms or kitchens, IT departments were working round the clock to make sure everything functioned and parents had to figure out how to balance looking after and home-schooling their children with work. Adapting to a new way of working had and still has its challenges, but one thing that needed to remain balanced was the relationship between managers and employees.
The Harvard Business Review defines managing up as “being the most effective employee you can be, creating value for your boss and your company.” As an employee, you want to try and make your manager’s job easier by using the traits of a great boss. Managing working relationships is harder when you are working remotely as you aren’t around each other all the time, making it more of a challenge to bounce ideas around and ask the questions as they pop into your head. Therefore, it is crucial that you maintain a practical, supportive and trusting relationship with your manager, which can be done my managing up.
Staying connected and having effective communication is arguably the most important factor when it comes to managing upwards when working remotely. One of the key features of managing up is creating that trusting relationship with your boss, so by keeping them up-to-date and informed you show them that you are working hard and trying to achieve great things. Whilst it can be argued that there is no such thing as too much communication, a daily phone call and email updates throughout the day should be sufficient enough as you want to make sure each knows what the other is doing - your boss will most likely have a preferred form of communication, so it is also best to use that if you can! Tying in well with the importance of communication when managing up, setting goals and achievements for the day and sharing these is also very effective. It might be a good idea to brief one another on the plan at the start of the day, and then at the end highlight what was accomplished.
Availability is crucial when forming a solid relationship with your boss. It is so important to be available when your diary shows that you are, and to let your manager know when you have engagements. Obviously, this isn’t always possible as things can be added in last minute, but just having a routine around lunch breaks and working hours will make the relationship a lot more trusting. If you can show that you can be trusted, it should never be a problem when you have to take an hour out of your working day for an appointment or a personal errand.
Another important factor in successfully managing up is anticipating the needs of your manager and to take initiative. It is key when working remotely to understand your manager’s present priorities and try to get ahead in order to achieve those. This can be as simple as doing a data task ahead of time that would help them out, or actioning new ideas that can make processes and communications more efficient for yourself and fellow employees. This remote way of working has given the opportunity for people to manage their time in a different way, creating room to improve strategies and show willing and initiative.
We are living in an uncertain and stressful time, especially after the recent announcements seemed to set things back. Whilst it is sure to have an impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing, trying to stay positive and looking on the brighter side is arguably the most important factor in managing up whilst working remotely. A positive mental attitude means that you are likely to put in more effort and be more productive, which ultimately actions all of the points above and makes for better work relationships.
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