Managing Up

Last week, I finally got around to reviewing a blog article that one of our part-time associates, Kirsten had written at my request. I was asking her to step outside her comfort zone and write an article for our Morrison Grants website – a blog article that was more in-depth than the weekly grant postings she has been putting up.

It took me all of about 20 minutes to complete the review and get back to her with comments, yet it took me two weeks to get to it.

When I sent the comments back to her, I told her that in the future, she should feel welcome to harass me until I got it done. With a pending maternity leave, and several client projects, I always tend to prioritize client’s projects first.

That’s the work that keeps our firm going and pays the bills, right? Shouldn’t I spend my time there? Well, yes of course. But the reality is, there are a lot of other activities that work to the benefit of our firm’s long term goals and growth and it’s easy to lose track of that when you have a mountain of “must do” work in front of you.

Kirsten’s responded that she’s not good at harassing busy pregnant women, but that she’ll work on it. That cracked me up. And I can see her point, but when taking 20 minutes out of my day to make sure someone else can keep moving forward on a project, well that is harassment-worthy. Sometimes I just need someone to bring it to the forefront of my mind. It’s the same thing we have to do with our clients when working on a grant or a feasibility study, or anything else needing their input.

My request to Kirsten is similar to when I’m working on a project and need Brent or Geoff’s review or guidance. I don’t want to bother them. They’re Morrison's principals…talk about busy! Granted, they’re not pregnant (at least I hope not), but I know they are busy working with clients, managing staff, managing all the administrative parts of running a business, meeting with prospective clients and probably way more than that. I feel badly putting another thing on their plate, but they’ve both said that part of my job is to make sure that I stay on top of them, just like I’m now telling Kirsten she needs to stay on top of me.

“Managing up” is an important part of professional growth. Understanding the balance between respectful follow up and just letting your project sit, untouched, is one that is learned in time. As a team member, it is part of your job to make sure all of your projects are moving forward. As management, it’s your job to make sure everything is moving forward, even that means asking others on the team to hold you accountable. Everyone has to work together, and “managing up” is a key part of that solution.


We’ve worked with a wide variety of clients on a broad range of projects and are happy to discuss solutions that can best fit your needs.

Get in Touch