Managing Up: Managing Your Manager with Compassion, Humor, and Data
Stephanie Parkin made us all laugh by warning us never to put the word “humor” in the title of our lectures. “Why do I do that? I am not funny!” she fretted, thus establishing a friendly rapport with her audience.
She explained that our manager is not necessarily smarter or more organized than we are, but s/he is definitely busier. She used to think of her manager as a sort-of “parent” but not anymore. When engaging her manager, she would go in with her checklist of things she wanted to discuss. This did not go over well, because her manager had a million other priorities. She learned to assess her manager’s mood and discuss her top 3 priorities if her manager was too time-starved to discuss the rest.
Stephanie showed some humorous quotes from videos to illustrate each point. A server administrator complained that his servers would handle the load just fine if they were not carrying the additional overhead of a poorly-designed codebase. This elicited a great deal of laughter from the audience.
For humor, Stephanie states that self-deprecation is always preferable to sarcasm. She also cautions us not to take it personally if someone has a different sense of humor than we do. Observe what works and move on.