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7 tips for managing up

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Managing up is an important skill for admins at every level to master. Melba Duncan, president of The Duncan Group and author of The New Executive Assistant, offers these seven tips to help you improve your ability.

1.  Be collaborative. “Assistants who are terrific at what they do are very, very collaborative,” says Duncan. Ask plenty of questions and be prepared to work with others to get the job done.

2.  Know your role. Admins often have to take care of crises, step in when there’s a gap in coverage, anticipate others’ needs and make decisions. To do so effectively, you have to know a lot about your role and your boss’s.

3.  Find out the goal. Understanding your organization’s vision, values and mission will help keep you on task as you are faced with decisions about which tasks to prioritize.

4.  Hone your skills. Use your intuition and judgment, and educate yourself about your company and your industry. Stay up-to-date on technological solutions and implement shortcuts when you can.

5.  Don’t be afraid to step in. When you see a need, fill it. If your boss struggles with spreadsheets, and you love working with them, offer to take over handling a spreadsheet-heavy project.

6.  Be patient. Understand that it can take time for people to trust and rely on you.

7.  Say no when necessary. Look for compromise, but if there are priorities that need attention, or if there’s a conflict in values, saying no respectfully shows your time is valuable and that you’ve considered the request carefully.         

— Adapted from “What Executive Assistants Know About Managing Up,” Nicole Torres, Harvard Business Review.

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