Associate Life

Fennie Wang

Managing Up

June 29, 2012 10:08 AM | Permalink | Print

Last week, I wrote about the story of Ernst Shackleton and his lessons for leadership. Certainly as the most junior person, leadership feels far away. As a junior person, it is often more important to learn how to manage up rather than manage down, that is, learning how to work with your bosses effectively. For many summer associates, one of the most challenging tasks is managing workload from various supervisors. In my previous work life, I only worked for one person, so I never had to learn how to manage different assignments from different people. Certainly communication and managing your timeline is key. It is also difficult to say no sometimes to new assignments, especially when they are interesting. In the end, it is important to accurately assess your workload and how much you can push yourself without letting quality drop. And 10 weeks in a summer isn't enough to learn how to manage all of this perfectly!

Apart from managing the workload, it's also important to learn different people's management style, including their preferences for formatting, communication, etc. I certainly have to thank my mentors, both official and unofficial, for helping me figure this out by connecting me with junior associates who have worked for the senior associate, counsel or partner. This then leads me to my last point, which is that juniors often have to learn how to use resources effectively, i.e., finding the right mentors that you can confide in, get great advice and also be your advocate.