If you’re new to this newsletter then welcome! Thank you to the 1,600+ revenue operations professionals who continue to subscribe to this newsletter. You’re the reason I continue to write each and every week on a Go To Market related topic. When I have a template to share paid subscribers will get access. I don’t have all the answers in revenue operations. That’s impossible because RevOps can be uniquely situated for each unique situation. But what I hope you can take away a few guiding principles or tactical snippets which you can use in your day to day. Before jumping into the newsletter, let’s hear from our sponsors that keep most of this newsletter free to readers.
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What is it? Is it barking orders to your manager? No hardly. In fact that's a really great way to see yourself out the door. Managing up is defined differently everywhere you go but let me break it down in my own way.
Managing up is the elimination of your leader managing down.
In the early days of your career you may not feel so confident about your work quality. It can be riddled with mistakes. This is annoying to your manager because they have to constantly look over your work and coach you. If they have to step in to do the work themselves enough times you will be seen as a liability and not an asset. If you find yourself in this situation it's okay... for a short time. But fix it and do it now.
I recommend slowing down and building in quality gates in your work. Meaning, create a checklist to review your work multiple times and build in a significant amount of buffer time. This will slow you down but that is by design after all.
If your work has correct data and is mistake free but your narrative is off, shallow, or inactionable then your manager may view you as someone that can deliver the technical skills but nothing more. They take the pen and completely rewrite the takeaways. This is a better model but not quite at the level where you've taken work off your leader's plate. This is okay too. Over time you'll learn the business and learn to mesh together as a team.
One less item on the plate
Reducing food intake is easy with portion control. With work, it's not that easy. There are only a handful of tried and true methods to reduce workload. Namely:
Automate the workload away
Increase your capability
Push out timelines
Rescope the deliverable
If you are a trusted member you'll find your delegate to more often than not. That's a good thing. You're seen as someone that can deliver the goods.
Even better, is the team member who can anticipate the needs of the leader and make moves with little to to no direction.
Set up a Personal Operating Cadence for yourself. One of my coaching clients recently shared how she was able to make a small but mighty change. We started with her company's operating cadences. I noticed that she would use certain phrases to indicate how messy her business is:
"One day we'll be able to do [fill in]"
"Our [fill in] targets keep moving"
"We don't have an agenda for [fill in] meeting each week"
"We don't track previous action items"
"I don't know who owns [fill in]"
If you've ever said yes I've heard this before! Then guess what. Your company's Operating System has a few, or A LOT, of cracks in it! FIX IT!
Managing up is an amazing outcome to strive for here. I'm a big fan of the EOS IDS system. If you're not familiar with it, IDS stands for:
This is great for joint collaboration. Particularly where you have organizations issues spanning across multiple teams. These cross functional issues intensify if "bystander culture" persists. If leadership embraces an open door culture paired with a well documented feedback loop system then I could see how improvements can be made.
But I believe that middle management can make or break not only culture but the company. Middle managers who fail to manage up are constantly executing what they're instructed to. The inability to exercise agency slows the business down. What happens is that leadership becomes a choke point for the business. All critical decisions and important discussions wait to get clearance from the top.
So where to start?
Crate an exhaustive list
Start with writing down all the things your leader is directly responsible for. Most of these items you won't be able to take over, but there will be many items where you can help drive considerable input into. A few examples:
Forecast and observations
Big deals report
Next 90 day renewals and forecast
Create an exhaustive list. Extend this list to include two columns to the right of it. Label the first column, "importance to my leader". The last column label it "where I can help the most". Make sure you split hairs here and rank each one. If you have 30 items, then rank 1 to 30. It's okay to have tiebreakers but don't get carried away and rank 5 things as the most important thing.
Each of these items face their own sets of challenges. Even your leaders find themselves blocked. Some of these can be removed easily while others need varying levels of help. There are several types of blockers. Next to the top three items use one or more of these letters, in red, to specify what type of blocker is in your way:
P - people blocker
D - dependency blocker
F - feedback loop blocker
T - time blocker
C - communication blocker
Te - technical blocker
Identifying the blocker will give you a sense of how to solve the issue. If there are no blockers but items that slow down your ability to execute said actions effectively then I would color code the letter yellow to denote it's not a blocker but a hurdle slowing you down.
Write down solutions
The goal is to remove one item off your leader's plate at a time. Taking on more than that will likely overload your own work. Do the one item and do it well. If you decide that the Forecast Summary can be aggregated, analyzed, and summarized by you then that's a great first candidate to take on. Especially if it ranks in the top importance items and intersects with the top items you can support.
So how are you going to help with the forecast?
- When does your leader send out the forecast?
- If you did the forecast, how much advanced time does your leader need to review the forecast and turn around commentary?
- How long does it take for you to turn commentary around?
- When do you review the forecast and type of observations? Week over week changes? Opportunities and risks?
- How long does it take for your reps to submit their forecast?
- How long does it take for you to ask questions to the reps in their forecast?
- When and where do you communicate and remind the reps to submit their forecast?
These logical questions point to how you can structure your day to day to better support this workstream. For example, let’s say your Forecast is on Tuesday. The green blocks below show how you can set up time blocks within your week to tighten up your forecast cadence.
This might seem like a lot of work but trust me. Showing up to a forecast with no agenda serves no one!
For paid subscribers here are my quick tips and a bi-weekly self scorecard (which I provide to my coaching clients) you could use:
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