Management and supervision are some of the core pieces of higher education administration in practice. As our semesters will be picking up soon however, it’s important to know that supervisory relationships can be affected by a variety of factors. The concept of “managing up” stems from the idea where a supervisee is taking an active role in supervision process on various levels. Here are two major tips that can help contribute to your success this academic year.
Tip #1: Know your supervisor’s “Why”
For the sake of department communication, processes, and planning, it is extremely important to understand your supervisor’s values and rationale for decision making. Supervisors are human—and in turn, it means that they have their personal preferences and frames of references in terms of work relationships. Therefore, you must take an active role in synthesizing and understanding who your supervisor is as a person. As a supervisee, consider the following questions when evaluating your work relationship:
• Is there a defined consensus on what specific information should be communicated on a designated basis?
• What are your supervisor’s professional hot buttons?
• What are factors that define your supervisor’s definition of success?
• When working and reporting on tasks and projects, is your supervisor focused on the details, the process, or the system you are utilizing?
Although this is not an all-inclusive list, these questions allow individuals to ask critical questions of working relationships. “Knowing the why” helps address a major component of the interpersonal sense of managing up. If you do not know these answers, open the space for dialogue in your next meeting and obtain clarity for operations sake. By knowing these answers, you will be able to plan and implement pieces of your office more effectively.
Tip #2: Evaluate your professional values, interests and skills in relation to the academic year
Managing up is great opportunity to develop your individual skill and professional competency development while recognizing how both you and your supervisor deal with stress, success, pressure, highs and lows, and other feelings that come through the year.
First, define and articulate your values, interests, and skill set to your supervisor and why they will be relevant for this academic year. Remember, no one is a mind reader and therefore progress comes to those who take active steps for themselves and lead by example. By articulating your values, interests, and skills, one can effectively evaluate what specifically is going to be fruitful for the office in terms of engagement.
For example, if you’re currently an Assistant Director looking for the next step in your professional journey, take the lead on office projects that give you an adequate reference for success. This will not only help you but also allow your supervisor to manage their workload by empowering you in the process.
All in all, use managing up to your advantage. The world of work has much to offer and it can only be discovered by taking an active role in the process. Best of luck!
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Jake Nelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Conor McLaughlin on SA Work-Life Balance