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10 Tips To Successfully Manage Up In A Virtual World

Source | | Mary Abbajay  | Contributor

The sudden shift into remote working conditions means that millions of people must rethink not only how to manage their work, but also how to manage their workplace relationships. The truth is that the virtual workplace—like the physical workplace—is still a social system, and in social systems relationships matter—especially the relationships we have with our bosses and managers. So, while you’re figuring out how to stay productive, don’t forget to manage one of your most important workplace relationships—the relationship with your boss.

Here are ten tips to ensure that you cultivate and maintain an effective working relationship with your boss:

1. Stay Connected: Since managing up is about consciously cultivating a robust working relationship with your boss in order to ensure success for you, your boss, and your organization, it is critical to stay connected. Building trust requires consistent connection points. Working virtually means you have to make a concerted effort to stay on your boss’s radar and you on theirs. Make an extra effort to communicate with your boss on a daily basis. This could be a daily check-in, daily email, or phone call.

2. Keep Them in the Loop. It’s important to keep your boss updated about your projects, deadlines, and general work-stream. Don’t assume your boss knows what you’ve accomplished or what you’re working on. Take the time to keep them abreast of your accomplishments, challenges, customer requests, etc. Establish a regular routine of checking in. Perhaps it’s a daily phone call or daily status report. Be proactive about engaging with them and keeping them apprised on your workload, tasks, and priorities.

3. Be Transparent. It’s important while working virtually that you are transparent with your boss about your schedule, time boundaries, and virtual work-style. Let your boss know when you are available to work and when you are not. This may require some negotiation as many people face childcare and other household issues that may require some flexibility. If this is the case for you, negotiate a schedule with your manager that works for both of you. For example, if you have to take time out during the day for childcare, then be transparent about that and offer to be back online later in the evening to make up for it. Be transparent about any challenges or time constraints you may have due to this sudden shift. If you need additional technology or equipment tell your boss sooner rather than later. If you use shared calendars, keep yours up to date daily.

4. Be Available. Virtual work is still work. Make sure your boss knows how and when to reach you. If your calendar shows you are available, then be available. Monitor your email, texts, and phone messages regularly. Let your boss know the best way to reach you and then monitor that communication channel. If you are called away from your workstation unexpectedly, shoot your boss a quick note or text letting them know when you will be back. Sadly, many managers are still distrustful of telework, so do what you can to reassure them that you are at work and available.

5. Align Your Communication Styles. Effective communication is critical for managing virtual relationships. Find out how your boss prefers to communicate and do your best to align to their style. Does your boss prefer email? Text? Slack? Conference call? If your boss is an introvert, you may have to be more proactive in connecting with them, as introverts can easily disappear into their own little worlds. With introverted bosses, be proactive about scheduling meetings and check-ins. Get on their calendar. Use email or text to get their attention. If your boss is more of an extrovert, then make time to connect via phone or video, as extroverts tend to prefer more socially dynamic interactions. Extroverts are going to want to see you and hear from you. Bottom line: Work with your boss’s communication preferences and not against them.

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