Managing Up, How does it work?

Managing Up, How does it work?

Have you ever known a boss or a person in management who just seemed to be there by luck, not by skill or management ability?

Have you ever known a nonprofit leader who didn’t know about nonprofits, but wasn’t aware of how much they didn’t know?

Have you ever heard of the term managing up?

Where does this term, managing up, come from?

Do you know about the Dunning-Kruger effect?

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.
(from the wikipedia page.)

This relates to Peter’s Corollary.

“Peter’s Corollary states that “in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out their duties” and adds that “work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence”. “Managing upward” is the concept of a subordinate finding ways to subtly “manage” superiors in order to limit the damage that they end up doing.”

How can you manage up?

Well, let’s assume your boss is a prime example of the kruger-dunning effect, and they don’t know what they don’t know, or worse, they assume that they know more about your job than you do, when in reality, they know nothing.

So, if this is the case, how do you get the message across?

First, set boundaries and expectations in your interview, straight out. And if it’s too late for that, then in your next meeting. Say, “Here is how you should measure what I’m doing.”

1. Measure fundraising not just in dollars raised, but in number of people touched.
2. Measure how well you’re doing your job by rebranding and polling community members about what they think of your nonprofit.
3. Measure how many grants out the door, not just which grants you won.
4. Measure the engagement of old and new volunteers and board members. Have you been having more meetings? What new initiatives are you planning?

If you can succeed in turning the conversation from “Where is the money” to “How can we get everyone to take responsibility for fundraising” then you will have succeeded in getting more help and managing up.

Any other tips for managing up? Please leave a comment!