HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

The Art of Reporting Up

Employees often bemoan the symptoms of poor communication with their superiors. This might include feeling like they aren’t getting the recognition for their good deeds or are getting blamed for things beyond their control. Or it might include feeling like the superior is simply out of touch and doesn’t appreciate the needs of the employee.

These issues are often symptoms of poor communication and a lack of “reporting up.”

In other words, employees would do well to think about how to be more effective at communicating up the chain of command. But this reporting shouldn’t simply be a data dump. Managers and executives are busy. Reporting up to ensure the important information is received, digested and—if applicable—acted on is a bit of an art form. Fortunately, it’s an art form anyone can master with a few simple tips.

Anticipate What the Manager Cares About Most

Employees should know what makes their bosses tick. Insights might be gleaned from one-on-one meetings with managers or from team or corporate meetings where goals and points of emphasis are discussed.

Provide Short, Concise, Updates and Requests

Employees shouldn’t make managers guess their requests or the salient points of their communications. Providing clear, concise updates and requests saves time for everyone involved and ensures the correct message is being sent and received.

Use Easy to Repeat and Reuse Content

This is particularly important when the goal is to get a message pushed up the chain. If a manager can take an employee’s email and send it on to the manager’s boss with little additional work, that sending on is much more likely to happen than if the manager needs to repackage the message first.

Reporting up the chain is a requirement in virtually any organization, but as with anything, some people are better at it than others. By practicing a few simple strategies, employees can greatly improve how well their upward communications are received and processed.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.