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Packaging Information to Effectively Manage Up

21 May, 2019

Heather Natour

Heather Natour

Head of Engineering, Seller & B2B at Opendoor

Heather Natour, Engineering Director at Opendoor, reveals what are the elements of managing up and how to effectively package the information.

Problem

As you move into more leadership roles, a lot more is expected of you. Managing upwards is a skill that you will need during your whole career. My managers in the last few roles have been remote, managing multiple disparate projects and roles at the VP and C-Suite level. Given the little time they had to devote to my team's needs, it was my job to advocate for the most important things that drove the project forward.

Actions taken

  • I prepare for every meeting as if it is a deadline and I am thinking carefully about what information I want to convey.
  • It is useful to talk to lots of other people before forming the communicated opinion, therefore being able to present a variety of views.
  • I always package the information in a way that is easy to quickly consume the trade-offs and dependencies. That means not just defining the problem but being specific about what the proposed options are. I often imagine having a conversation in my head with my boss and I try to anticipate her/his questions.
  • It is important to distill the information and pull out the most important parts. Then edit the information into a very short action-oriented format. Details can always be added at the end, but by getting to the point and what is needed from them at the beginning, it allows them to decide how much they want to dive into the details.

Lessons learned

  • The limited conversation time I have with my manager or my stakeholders is reserved for a deeper debate. We can focus on a specific aspect they may find problematic instead of discussing general issues.
  • This deeper level of interaction is highly valuable and I encourage people to make the most of their time spent with leaders who have a lot of experience.

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