Does anyone have any suggestions for managing upwards. Books, articles, blogs or papers?

I have been told in a couple of performance reviews that I need to learn to manage upwards (in respect to superiors and stakeholders) and have improved transparency in terms of the project and also myself.

I typically work on agile software development projects as a scrum master.

  • So much of the answer depends on the context of your organization, and what is really meant by that statement. :) In terms of project transparency, what are you (and the PO/other leadership) doing now as an SM to show and make data available? – Jeff Lindsey Jul 30 '15 at 17:10
  • I think my knowledge needed is more general. So perhaps I should just go on Amazon and buy a book – TheLearner Jul 30 '15 at 17:30
  • If you could add one or two examples of behaviors of management above you that you're having trouble with, that may help us give a better answer. There are many dysfunctional things managers may do and there isn't really a set answer that covers them all. – Daniel Jul 31 '15 at 15:24

I recommend the podcast series from Manager-Tools.com. They have been providing free management and career podcasts now for ten years and have won several notable awards and recognition. Start with the Manager Tools Basic series. It's focused at managers, but still very relevant to your role as Scrum Master is an influence based position.

The top level items:

  • 1) You can't: There is no such thing as managing up. You don't control your boss or your management. Instead it's more about transparency (ooh agile), communication (agile again) and influence.

  • 2) Know your audience: The podcasts on DISC are priceless. They will help you to better tailor your communication to the communication style of each person. When you are communicating up you have to communicate the way they will here.

  • 3) Pre Wire: A huge thing in "managing up" is making sure you engage before major meetings or decisions. Meetings should not be where things are decided, they should be where they are ratified. If the VP is seeing the plan for the first time in a big public meeting, that's bad.

  • 4) Over Communicate: There is an art to this of course. That being said, if you aren't constantly feeling like you are WAY over communicating, then you are probably not communicating enough for senior management.

There is no simple answer here and the techniques often seem "duh" and brain dead. Good management is boring and repetitive and it works.

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