Techniques for Managing Upward and Outward

Divya Ramachandran

Product Leader & Coach at Square Circle, Inc



We all know it's important to manage upward to ensure your manager is effectively utilizing you and your team. Even though I knew this and was working with reasonable success with my manager, there was a break in communication and work process with other teams and specifically my peers in other departments.

Actions taken

To mitigate this, I decided to implement a process to manage outward. I created a framework to populate and discuss at our weekly collaboration meeting. The framework consisted of open ended discussion points: what my team and I did well last week, what didn't go well last week, and a clear description of the support I needed and set of asks for my colleagues on other teams. This ended up being a very valuable exercise for my team. I began to see that in the weeks when I let this framework slip, I would immediately see old patterns repeat themselves again.

Lessons learned

I learned that this open line of communication was incredibly valuable.

  • By discussing what went well last week, I made a point to both reflect on and acknowledge the good work my team and I were doing on a regular basis. This had a multiplicative impact on my own team's morale.
  • By discussing what did not go well last week, not only was I providing transparency to my peers, but I could also get ahead of problems that otherwise might snowball. Expressing a certain level of vulnerability was important to build the trust of my colleagues. Additionally, other teams could pitch in with suggestions.
  • Finally, by specifically asking my colleagues for support, I was forcing myself to represent the change I wanted to see in our working culture. Departments are necessarily at odds with one another, and often competing for resources or clashing in priorities. I knew that if I asked for help, others would feel more comfortable to come to me for support. Creating a culture of helping one another at the management level was critical to unlocking more empathy and understanding throughout the company.

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Divya Ramachandran

Product Leader & Coach at Square Circle, Inc

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