Brenda’s Blog

What’s your ratio of managing “up”?

April 10, 2023

“He’s a leader with a lot of problems. Every time I hear from him, he’s sharing yet another challenge that he can’t seem to resolve.”
This feedback concerned a coaching client, Andrew. Those exact same words came from Andrew’s two direct superiors, both Group CEOs, who were located in different regions of the world.
When I next met with Andrew, I asked him, “How often do you communicate with your superiors and – when you do – what do you talk to them about?”

“Oh, I rarely reach out to them,” he responded. “I try not to bother my bosses unless I really have to – only when there is a problem that I’m not sure how to solve.”I then asked Andrew how often he shared with these two Group CEOs what was going “right” in Andrew’s business.
Andrew looked surprised, then responded, “Never … should I? That seems so self-promotional, like I’m ‘bragging’ or something.”
By holding back positive information from his bosses, Andrew had inadvertently created a brand for himself as “The Leader with Problems.”
In today’s matrixed reporting world, it’s critical to maintain a healthy ratio of positive-to-negative communication with your boss.
For every negative challenge you share “up,” I encourage you to share at least five positive outcomes or developments that are taking place for you and/or your team.
Keeping your boss informed allows them to use that information to make smarter decisions affecting their areas of responsibility within the organization.
So, what about you… What have you learned about positive-to-negative sharing with superiors, and how has that impacted your relationships “up?”



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