2 min read

Managing Up

Why you need to manage your manager and how to do it effectively

Managing up in a tech company involves effectively communicating with and influencing higher-level leaders, such as founders or executives, to align goals, share progress, and ensure mutual understanding of the company's vision and challenges. This proactive approach enhances collaboration, accelerates decision-making, and fosters a cohesive growth trajectory for both the individual and the startup.

As a leader, you must keep the company’s goals in mind. I recommend tying everything in your communication to the goals. Here are a few ways that I tried in the past and worked well:

Periodical written communication
The best way to communicate updates is through writing. I found it useful to have a regular written update about the breadth of things I work on. This is useful because I can let the receiver read it at their own pace.

I can be really thorough and include a lot of details. You can include graphics, links to dashboards, or reference past written communications. You can format them in a way that is easy to read.

In the beginning, I feel it takes a lot of time to prepare a written update. However, over time, I found that it is the best way to value everyone’s time. Having a long verbal update is really hard, to find the time and digest everything. It’s best for everyone involved to have written updates. Additionally, I usually keep it in a regular cadence to make sure the updates have enough meat.

photo of two women facing each other sitting in front of table near glass wall
Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

Face-to-face weekly 1:1s
You can’t replace the benefit of regular face-to-face meetings. It is the most effective way to transmit information with high bandwidth; body language, facial expressions, tones, and real-time feedback. I use this opportunity to discuss topics that really need discussion and avoid updates that can be written.

For example, when I need support on a potential conflict, I want to get feedback on how to approach it and potential pitfalls, while observing the body language, facial expression, and other signals from my manager. When I have constructive feedback or other things that are sensitive to share, I want to see their reactions.

Whether it is conflicts, influencing others, project delays, or asking for additional resources, I always try to frame it around my team’s goals and the company’s goals. That way, they know I have the right mindset coming into the conversation.

Whether it is written, verbal, in-person, or over a video call, I found it important to keep regular communications upward to align goals, share progress, and ensure mutual understanding.