Managing up


Have a question around "managing up." How have you dealt with your boss who asks for deliverables without fully thinking things through?

My boss will ask me for things (because he's been asked for things that are outside of his professional background), and grind me to get them done without much sense/thought as to what the deliverable is or what's required for it.

I.e, I was asked for final numbers for a financing package, and our GC has not provided 1.) final bid pricing or 2.) a delivery schedule.

I'm at a loss and growing increasingly frustrated because this stuff keeps happening.

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Comments (6)

Jun 10, 2021 - 10:23am

"Hey boss I can't provide that until we receive the final bid number from the GC."

I don't understand the scenario exactly but why not tell him you can't provide the info he wants. Maybe you two can come to a solution once he understands the problem 


Jun 10, 2021 - 11:41am

I mean yeah, maybe OP's example was just a poor one but if its literally something you can't finish without somebody else's inputs then follow up with them, copy him on the email, and let him know you'll get it to him as soon as they get back to you.

Jun 10, 2021 - 3:10pm

Managing up is a skillset that does take time to learn - it takes time to find the right balance of providing enough details without having your boss / superior "feel" (key word is feel lol) like they are handholding you.

I think the biggest thing is frequently providing updates and letting them know where things stand. I agree with [email protected] that a lot of people just follow up once and assume it is in the other person's court.

As well, if your boss is asking for things that cannot be delivered for whatever reason, a large part of he/she being okay with it is having that trust in you that you are responsible and on top of things. 

Early in my career I found that there were always things that were asked for which couldn't be delivered. In the beginning I found that I was receiving a lot of pushback or "why not" responses basically not believing me.

Once I started to get a handle of how to consistently provide updates etc. to let everyone know the balance of the key deliverables, I found that I rarely receive pushback because of the trust the team has in you. Once they know you are responsible and on top of things, they won't question you.

One key method is to provide an one email update at the end of every week, listing out on all the projects you are working on and bullet points updates. If it's a list of 10 projects and you have only gotten to 5, still mark them down with a comment addressing if it's lower priority due to time constraints. All my superiors have appreciated that as it allows them to quickly skim through and potentially ask questions on those specific items which they are more concerned about.

Hope this helps.

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