I had a conversation with an old client recently over lunch about the nuances of remote work, and the relative pros and cons. This is a conversation that I have had more times than I can count since the pandemic turned everything upside down. If I were working for one specific company, I can say that I lean toward hybrid environments, versus fully remote, and for varied reasons, not the least of which is the ability to effectively manage-up your boss in person; a learned skill that can be the difference in a raise of 3-5% versus double digits. The benefit of managing up in person enables you to express yourself with agency and energy in a meaningful way; a way that does not always translate on Zoom, in a Slack channel, and generally not via email.
Communicating effectively with your direct boss (and other superiors) is part and parcel of enabling career promotion. I can attest to the fact that in my corporate career, being able to do a quick drive-by my boss's office, get their attention, and succinctly communicate something prescient, was a huge part of my career success; communication that suggested my commitment, critical thinking, strategic point of view, need for weigh-in, and then off I would go after gaining buy-in for my strategy.
An unexpected consequence of being fully remote is for your boss to not have these face-to-face, simple interactions with you. So it begs the question, what are you doing to make sure you are not missing an opportunity to manage up, and to advocate for yourself?
If you are indeed remote, it’s probably never been more important to understand your boss’s communication style and preferences. If you don’t know the answer to this, ask them. I’ve had bosses who prefer a simple text and some who prefer long-form, detailed information via email. Ask.
Always request for clarity if you are not sure of their priorities. This is key. What makes sense to you may not be a priority for them. Make sure you align on their priorities. Be proactive.
This part is critical. Bosses don’t like surprises. Keep them informed of your progress and any potential challenges to your or the team’s success. If something is going awry, it is better to align with them early. But when you do, be prepared with solutions. Even if they don’t adopt your strategy, at least you have come to them with a potential solve for the issue.
If you are fully or mostly remote, don’t take for granted that because you are meeting your role responsibilities, that your commitment is fully apparent. Proper managing up skills are key to promotion, and a big part of that is your energy and presence, remote or otherwise.