HOW TO MANAGE UP (EP.13)

By Justin Kerr

HOW TO MANAGE UP (EP.13)

It only takes 30 minutes to change your life. In this episode MR CORPO explains the importance of your weekly 1:1 meeting with your boss, why you should never try and go over your boss' head (BONUS SECTION) and why you should find ways to take work off your boss' to-do list and do it yourself (SUPER SECRET BONUS SECTION). Ever feel like you don't get credit for all the work you do? MR CORPO has an easy solution for that too. Plus MR CORPO explains how to make everyone on your team hate you.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT:

 How to Manage Up (12/7/2016)

JUSTIN: Together. Oh, let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah. Think of all that we could share. Let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah. Two is twice as one. Let's get together right away. We'll be having twice the fun, and you can always count on me, a gruesome twosome we will be. Let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

(Intro music)

 

JUSTIN: Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Mr. Corpo podcast. That was my vocal rendition of the classic Disney song from the movie Parent Trap. And in case you couldn't tell, it's called Let's Get Together. On today's show, we're gonna talk about getting together. But that's not the exact topic. The exact topic is gonna be called How To Manage Up. Another way to say that would be how to kiss up. It could also be called how to be good at your job. But let's just call it how to manage up. Now, I don't care if this is your first day on the job. I don't care if this is middle management, I don't care if you're a Vice President. I don't care if you're a President. I don't care if you're the CEO. You need to manage up. It's a fact of life, so let's accept it and let's get to work.

 

Now, on today's show we're gonna talk about a couple things. The first thing we're gonna talk about is the importance of a one-to-one weekly meeting, otherwise known as the most important 30 minutes of your entire work week. We're also gonna talk about why you should offer to take things off your boss's plate and do them yourself, and we're also gonna talk about what an idiot you are if you think you should go over your boss's head to try and win favor with your boss's boss, or your boss's boss's boss.

 

But onto the task at hand. Let's talk about how to manage up. How many of you have a weekly one-to-one with your boss? I will state 100 percent unequivocally you cannot be successful at your job if you don't have a one-to-one every single week. Period, end of sentence, no debate. Now, I'm not talking about a casual, every-so-often one-to-one. I'm talking about a scheduled, dedicated, consistent, every week one-to-one meeting.

 

Now, before I talk about how to schedule these meetings, and before I talk about how to run these meetings to their maximum impact, I wanna talk about why the one-to-one weekly meeting is the most important meeting of the entire week, and why this is essential -- this is the foundation of managing up. This is your chance to be one-on-one with your boss and have a dedicated time.

 

Now, the benefits of that should be pretty obvious, but let me give you a couple specific examples of why this meeting is gonna be so important for you and all the benefits. Here's one: have you ever complained that you don't get enough credit for your work? Well, guess what? Having a weekly one-to-one meeting gives you a chance 52 times a year to keep reminding your boss all the amazing things you're doing. That sounds like a benefit. That's one reason. Here's another reasoning. Do you know how to make everyone on your team hate you? Tell them to do something and then go back to them one hour later, one day later, one week later, and tell them they have to redo it because your boss doesn't agree with what you said. Having a weekly one-to-one gives you a chance to pre-align with your boss. Get sign-off, get the approval, boom. No changes in direction, no double work. All of a sudden when you say something, people believe you. That's called credibility. That's a good thing. Trust me. You will not be good at your job if you don't have this one-to-one meeting. You cannot effectively manage up if you do not have this meeting.

 

And please, don't be that dumb, young person out there who works at a small company and thinks, "Yeah, I don't need to do this. I talk to my boss all the time. In fact, I sit right next to my boss. This is only for corporate people." Guess what? Those aren't meetings you're having with your boss, that's white noise. It's meaningless. It's coming, it's going, you don't have attention, it's not dedicated time. That doesn't take the place of a dedicated one-to-one meeting. So don't make that mistake. I've been going all around the country, talking at big companies, talking at small companies, and there are some things that are universal truths. This is one of them: the one-to-one meeting with your boss is the most critical 05:01 30 minutes you spend in your week, and in order to manage up and be good at your job, you've got to have this.

 

I remember I was in San Francisco sitting at this small company, they're called Chubby's, and this girl raised her hand and she said, "Well, I don't need to do this because my boss sits right next to me and we move really fast and we don't have enough time to have these meetings." And I remember looking around the room, and I caught the eye of who was their boss, and this person was just shaking their head like, "Oh my gosh, this girl needs these meetings more than anyone else." Trust me, I don't care how big of an office you have, I don't care how many people are on the team. Even if there's only two of you. I don't care if you even work in a restaurant and you're a waitress. You should have a dedicated time with your manager or boss to talk about things. I promise you that in passing gesture of, oh yeah, we just talked outside, it was good: that doesn't count, alright? Get a dedicated time on the calendar.

 

And before I get off my high horse on this, I'm just gonna say one more thing. If you're out there and you're a semi-successful director or vice president and you're thinking, "I don't need this, look at me. I'm so semi-successful without having a weekly one-to-one meeting." Guess what? You're semi-successful. Think how much more successful you could have been if you did have these meetings. If you're the vice president, you probably should be the president by now. So get your one-to-one meetings on point and get these on the calendar.

 

So now that everyone believes me that these are essential meetings in order to be able to manage up and be good at your job, let's talk about how to schedule them, okay? So here's how you schedule. Not on Mondays. It's too busy on a Monday, everyone's back from the weekend, priorities are still being set. Not on Mondays. Also, not on Fridays. Nobody likes anyone who schedules meetings on a Friday. This is just a fact. Also, don't schedule them in the afternoon. If you schedule meetings in the afternoon, they're more likely to be moved around. They're more likely for something else to have happened during the day, and they need to cancel it. So that leaves you with Tuesday through Thursday in the mornings. This is your sweet spot, alright?

 

Now, as to the title of the meeting, even when you're scheduling it, this is important. I want you to call it Weekly One-to-One, Justin and Michelle. You've got to put your name in the title. If you just write Weekly One-to-One, guess what? Your boss probably has more than one person that reports to them. They look at their calendar and now it's super confusing. If you put your name in it, all of a sudden it has meaning. It's gone from a meaningless, corporate just meeting on the calendar to oh my gosh, this is a dedicated time to be with another human being. So put your name in the title. Weekly One-to-One, Justin plus Boss. Alright? That's really important.

 

Now, here's the next part of having a successful one-to-one meeting. You must send a pre-read 24 hours in advance of the meeting, and at worst, by five PM the day before. Why five PM? You have to get credit for being organized and knowing what you're gonna talk about in advance. This pre-read itself has to be super simple. Here is the agenda, here's the bullet points. The less words, the better. Now, the benefits of this pre-read are: you're saying to your boss, I am organized. You're saying, heads up on the topic, so that the boss can prepare in case there's any topics that they may need to bring some information to the table. It also keeps the meeting from being cancelled. These meetings have a tendency to be cancelled if you're not bringing the agenda. So by sending it in advance, you're pre-empting any instinct a boss might have for trying to cancel this meeting.

 

Also, this might not be as obvious to everyone: it removes the pressure from the boss to feel like they have to run the meeting. Because here's the thing: the bosses are running meetings all week. All they do all day is run meetings. But if you can say, "This is a time where I'm gonna run the meeting, I'm providing the agenda, I have topics, I'm gonna lead it," it makes the boss feel good. Makes him feel like, oh, someone else is gonna do a little bit of work around here. All of that just by sending the pre-read agenda. So that is essential.

 

Now, when it comes to the meeting itself, you wanna print out two copies of that agenda that you sent, and you bring both copies. I want you to have physical copies to hand out. And the purpose of this is two-fold. First, it says again, "I am organized. I have brought the material that is necessary to keep us on track and to give us the topics to talk about." This is important.

 

The second thing is, seeing it printed out is a physical representation of all the work that you're doing. Now, multiply this times 52 times. All of a sudden, your boss has a physical reminder of everything that you're doing, and everything that you're doing that's important. And guess what? That starts to add up when you do it every single week, and now 52 times, 10:00 you've basically gotten in front of your boss and said, "I'm important. I'm organized. Look at all the work I do." Do you think that there's any chance they're not gonna recognize all the work you do, or you're not gonna get credit anymore? Of course not. You're gonna maximize the credit you get for the work you're doing.

 

Now, as for the goal of this meeting, there's three things that come to mind. The first is, you're getting approval on things you're working on. You're either telling them, "Here's the direction I'm giving to the team, do you agree with this?" You're also saying, "Here's my priorities, do you agree with this? Should I move any of these things?" The second thing you're doing is, you're reminding them of everything that you have going on. Again, this is really important. Bosses have a lot on their mind, they might have forgotten that you're doing all these projects, or that you hold down the fort on this and that. So get it back in front of them. And then the third thing, at the risk of repeating myself is, you are saying to your boss, "I am organized." And then, subtly, you're saying, "You can trust me." And these things kind of add up, so that when the next project comes along, the boss is thinking, who do I want to work on this? They're gonna want the person who's keeping them up to date, who's organized, who brings the battle to them. So all of this can happen just from your weekly one-to-one meeting.

 

Alright, look. I hope that's convinced you that the most important 30 minutes of your day are gonna be this one-to-one meeting. And don't be someone who tells me you don't have enough time, your boss is too busy, or you're too busy. I tried to do the math and I looked at it: 30 minutes out of a 40-hour work week is only 1.2 percent of your time. Now, no one works a 40-hour work week. We're all working 50-hour work weeks, 60-hour work week. So I'm talking about less than one percent of your time dedicated to the most important thing that you can do. So time is not an excuse, being busy is not an excuse. Just go out and do it.

 

Now, having said all of that, it's time for the bonus section. Rob, bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! (clapping) I love you! Bonus section.

 

(music)

 

JUSTIN: Here we are everybody, we're at another bonus section. And when I wanna talk about right now is, do not try and go over your boss's head. We're here to talk about managing up. And you may think, hey, I've got a great idea. Forget my boss, I'm gonna go for the boss's boss. That's managing up, isn't it? Well, let me tell you, that's not managing up, that's shooting yourself in the foot. Like it or not, your boss is gonna be the most important person in your work life. They're gonna be on the front lines of deciding whether you get promoted or not, whether you get a raise or not, whether you get the good project or not, whether you can take vacation or not, or whatever the case may be. You've got to stay in the good graces of your boss. And one of the surefire ways to fall out of the good graces of your boss is to try and go over their head with an issue or a topic to the boss's boss.

 

Now, I've fallen victim to this before, and I haven't even tried to go over my boss's head. But what happened was, I happened to be on one of those small jets where it's the CEO's jet and you're flying around the country and there's a bunch of executives on the plane. And I remember there's -- let's say there's four or five of us. The CEO of the company, my boss, and a couple other executives. And we're sitting around and I made some joke about how my boss, Michelle, had forgotten my birthday. And I thought this was the funniest thing. And everyone was laughing. However I told the story, it was really funny, everyone was laughing and all this stuff and I thought, "Great, I'm making a great impression on the CEO, and all these people think I have a great personality." I got off that plane and my boss stuck her finger in my chest and said, "Don't you ever do that again." And I had no idea what she was talking about. And I said, "What are you talking about?" And she said, "Don't you ever try and make me look bad in front of my boss ever again." And I was just deer in headlights, and I thought, "What are you talking about?" What is this -- where is this coming from? I thought we were all laughing, I thought we were all getting along, it was just a joke. And she said, "I don't want you to ever make me look bad -- if you ever try that again, you're gonna be in serious trouble." And I just was quiet. I said, "Okay." I said, "I apologize, I had a misunderstanding, I thought it was just a lighthearted poke. But um, I apologize and I understand that I really wanna make you look good in front of everybody, cause you helped me a lot."

 

But the point was, and what it taught me is, bosses can be sensitive, and your job is to make your boss look good. Make your boss look good, let your boss make you look good. So stick in that lane, stay there, and don't try and veer too far from that. Learn from my mistakes in the past. That's just one example.

 

Now, Rob, we're gonna go to the super secret bonus section. 15:01 Super secret bonus section. Super secret bonus section. Alright, we're in the super secret bonus section, I usually drop my voice a little bit so it feels like a whisper, because it's such a secret, only you and I can know about this. But here's something I want you to do when we talk about managing up, when we talk about trying to make your boss look good, make your boss's life look better, here's something I want you to keep an eye out for. Try and identify something that your boss is doing right now that you could be doing. Inevitably, your boss, just through inheriting tasks or holding onto things, is doing things that they shouldn't do or that someone else could do.

 

Now, if during your weekly one-to-one meeting you can go to your boss and say, "Hey, boss, you know, I was just thinking, I know you still consolidate the reports on Monday and take all five people's information and put them into that file. I just wanted to check with you, I thought that's something I could take on and, you know, give you a little bit of time back, and I could coordinate everything for you. What do you think?" Now, on the surface this might look like, wait a minute, you're trying to take away something that your boss is doing? Are they gonna be upset? Of course not. You're giving them time back.

 

Now, the second thing you're thinking is, wait a minute, this means I have to do more work? And the answer is yes -- yes you have to do a little bit more work. But think of all the benefits. You've identified a pain point for your boss, you've offered to solve that and give them time back. All of a sudden, you're becoming that right hand. You're becoming that trusted lieutenant who takes things off of their plate, or tries to make things more efficient. Who doesn't wanna have someone like that on their team? So it's not always intuitive for people. But look around and try and find some low-hanging fruit, some easy projects, or some easy behaviors, or some easy forms that you can say, hey, why don't you let me do that? Or, here's an easier way to do that. Your boss is gonna love you, and that's a good thing.

 

Now, I've given you a lot of information there. But hopefully you can kinda see that full package of what it means to manage up, and how do you communicate with your boss, how do you try and make them look good. And then at the same time, all those things help you be better at your job. And you know, my point is, get more money in your pocket, get more promotions, better title, better office, happier life. Okay? That's I think how the story's supposed to go, in that fairy tale of Corpo work.

 

So without further ado, I'm gonna sign off from today's episode. Of course I'm gonna thank our sponsor, Forlorn Hope Wines, go to forlornhopewines.com, the Mr. Corpo discount is still in effect, so please get out there and buy some wine, subscribe to their wine club, he's continuing to sell out of wines, and that stuff is really, really good. And of course, I wanna remind you to hit me up on the social channels. Hit me up on Instagram at JDKJDKJDKJDK. Hit me at Twitter at Mr_Corpo.

 

And of course, I wanna keep the Ask Mr. Corpo section going, so use our anonymous hot tip line, which is at mrcorpopodcasdt@gmail.com. You can leave any questions you want, we'll answer them anonymously. We'll mention our name if you want a shoutout. But it's a great way to kind of get your work problems solved. And we love to, you know, get input from our listeners and hear what's on their mind. Often times, it inspires entire episodes. So get out there, give us a shout, we'd love to hear from you. And as always, we've got the incredible producer, Rob Schulte, sitting across from me. Rob, thanks for another great episode. Things are going well. Do you think you can handle normal episode bonus section and super secret bonus section?

 

ROB: Inaudible.

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, you have actually. So that's it for the Mr. Corpo podcast. Let's get to work. 18:57



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