Chapter 9: Paint Your Environment Part 15
Earlier in the chapter, I shared how I was productive but perceived as “not committed” at my last job before I left the corporate world. In a way they were right: The company was not the most important thing in my life. But, I was committed to producing high quality, professional work. Frankly, I would have stayed longer if I had been promoted.
I’m happy with how things have turned out, but sometimes I wonder if I should have been more like Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, who used to hide her 5:30 departure to take care of the kids. I wanted to make a statement, and went out of my way to let everyone know that after-hours was out of bounds.
Successful Upward Management requires firm boundaries and clear communication. For example, I did not answer emails in the evening. I didn’t ask permission not to answer, I just didn’t. My manager once told me how he learned not to expect a response from me to weekend emails until Monday morning, and he was surprised that he was ok with it. Here is a little secret – I did check email once a day on the weekend, but I did not answer because it was never an urgent issue. I trained everyone not to expect an answer, and they stopped sending me email.
Poor upward management came when I got arrogant: I told my manager my strategy. It pissed him off, and rightly so. I was showing off, and I think my arrogance held back my career in an unnecessary way. Had I to do it over again, I would have remembered that they are more senior, and should be treated with some deference and respect. I don’t mean ass kissing, but I tended to treat them like we were equals, which we weren’t.
I think my desire to champion workplace flexibility was a holdover from an earlier time in my career, when I thought that I was above politics. I could have quietly gone about keeping my life in balance. I had what I wanted: a life that put people first, and I was no longer caught up in corporate idolatry.