‘Managing Up’ in a Virtual Work Environment
How do you establish a good, solid relationship with your co-workers and, most importantly, your boss? Sucking up isn’t the answer. But “managing up” is. It’s a term that’s often confused with the former, and some people define it as simply climbing the corporate ladder.
In reality, though, it’s the act of going beyond expectations to make your manager’s life easier and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business. When you’re working in a virtual or remote environment (like many of us today are), managing up and being an effective worker is especially important.
Open, two-way communication is essential within a remote team. It helps everyone keep tabs on the overall health of their departments and the company as a whole. Going above and beyond to add value is something that’s not lost on good managers, even in a virtual setting. But how can you stay connected, communicate, and work to improve your organization when you don’t share space with your co-workers? The solution is having frequent, transparent conversations and working to resolve inefficiencies before they become problems.
Be a Facilitator
Communication is the lifeblood of any team, and the entire organization will suffer without it. If you see a kink in the way your team communicates, call it out before your boss needs to — whether or not you are at fault.
Share your perspective with those involved without assigning blame, and then facilitate the conversations needed to get things back on track. This might mean setting up a team call to open up the lines of communication. Though it may seem awkward at first, remember that you’re doing this to create a more effective and stress-free working environment. In the long run, everyone benefits.
Be a Leader
No matter what your title is, your company needs you to be a leader. This need is amplified when you’re working remotely; being based in different locations gives remote workers a degree of independence that office workers don’t have. Managers, therefore, appreciate those on their team who spend extra time and effort trying to make the organization better in any way possible.
Instead of complaining about the deficiencies in your organization, recognize what could be better and make a plan to improve it. Bring your manager on board, organize a system of support, and then implement your idea. Your manager will respect your initiative, and your team will grow stronger because of it.
Talk to Your Manager
Any strong working relationship is based on a sense of personal connection. Water cooler conversations are more meaningful than they may seem because they enable teammates to connect with one another.
If you’re not going to bump into your manager at the water cooler, you need to be intentional about making time to connect with him. Instant message your manager frequently. Keep the focus on work most of the time, but share a bit about your personal life, too. Be friendly. Don’t let a week go by without having at least a quick conversation with your manager. You’ll be strengthening your working relationship with each interaction.
Ask for a Regular Meeting
To ensure that the lines of communication are open between you and your manager, set up a regular time to talk. The meeting can — and should — be a short one. Here’s a basic format to follow:
- What have you been working on?
- What do you plan to work on next?
- What challenges have you encountered?
A good manager will want immediate access to all of this information because the more informed he is, the more effective he will be in helping you work to the best of your ability.
Setting up a regular meeting also gives you the opportunity to ask for feedback, which you can use to maximize your own effectiveness. Having access to your manager’s thoughts and input will empower you to build a solid, transparent relationship.
Connection and Growth
Your working relationships are what keep you plugged into your organization. If you’re out of touch with any member of your team, especially your manager, you run the risk of becoming someone who’s not providing value to your company. You should be giving and receiving feedback, making continual adjustments, and reprioritizing your efforts on a regular basis to add value and go above and beyond for your organization.
“Managing up” is not manipulation; it’s doing everything you can to stay in tune with your manager’s and company’s needs to make every aspect of your organization more effective. When you make an effort to open the lines of communication across the lonely, quiet miles separating you from your team members and reach out to help where you can, everybody wins.
Josh Cramer is the founder and CEO of Cramer Development, a word-class Web and mobile application development company that helps clients create new businesses and products through ideation and technical services. Connect with him on Google+.
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