Customer Equity Accelerator Podcast

Ep. 59 | Managing Up with Michelle Rovner


"I don’t want to just complete a task. I want to contribute." Michelle Rovner

This week in the Accelerator is a fresh perspective on managing up with Michelle Rovner. I’ve positioned this episode purposely after last week’s episode on Gaining Budget for Data Science projects to provide the dual perspectives of top down and bottom up. Naturally when both work together, everyone wins. My guest, Michelle Rovner, pulls from a very diverse background in military, non-profit and corporate worlds. Whatever type of organization you are in, her advice is the gold nugget you need to move your career forward.


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Ep. 61 | Big Ideas for Retailers from eTail West Ep. 58 | Budgeting for Data Science Projects


Show Transcript

Allison Hartsoe: [00:01] This is the Customer Equity Accelerator. If you are a marketing executive who wants to deliver bottom-line impact by identifying and connecting with revenue generating customers, then this is the show for you. I'm your host, Allison Hartsoe, CEO of Ambition Data. Each week I bring you the leaders behind the customer-centric revolution who share their expert advice. Are you ready to accelerate? Then let's go! Welcome everyone. Today's show is about managing up and to help me discuss this topic is Michelle Rovner. Michelle is the associate director of marketing for the Americas and the global community practice leader at d I a global, which is the drug information association. Michelle, welcome to the show.


Michelle Rovner: [00:52] Good Morning Alison. Thanks for having me.


Allison Hartsoe: [00:54] Can you tell us a little bit more about your background? You know, people don't usually wake up and suddenly become the associate marketing director of a global organization. Can you give us a sense of how you got to this position, and where he came from?


Michelle Rovner: [01:09] Sure, so I've worked in various different sectors. I'm having started my career as a government employee for the Department of Defense. I worked under the Department of the Navy as a public affairs person. From there I moved to corporate for-profit America, and now I currently work for the nonprofit space at Dia, and each place of employment and each stage of my career I found that throughout the stages there was a lot of key things that I was able to focus on as it pertains to this specific topic of how do we manage up. I found that success in this is the ability and the confidence to manage but different managers that you have and be able to level set some expectations amongst your peers and those managers. Knowing how to consciously work with your manager to obtain best practices, best results for you, your boss, and for the organization which you both work has become extremely valuable to me, and it helped me in my career to directory.


Michelle Rovner: [02:04] Currently, I'm the associate director of marketing as you stated, and a global community of practice leader at Dia. And Dia is a global nonprofit association that mobilizes life sciences professionals across all areas of expertise to engage with patients, peers and thought leaders in a neutral environment on really pressing issues of today and kind of the future of healthcare moving forward. So currently in my role, I have a fantastic four member marketing team, and I'm responsible for all the strategic planning, execution of Dia's marketing efforts. The latter part of my responsibilities serving as a global community of practice leader. In this role, I serve as a person who provides strategy, best practices, tactical recommendations and support for Dia Marketing initiatives globally. So as you can imagine, having that type of role, we, there's a lot of key stakeholders, and sometimes managing expectations, and managing workload priorities. And you know, just the topic we're speaking of today, managing up comes up quite often.


Allison Hartsoe: [03:07] Now, I have to give you a little background on the context for why I invited you to this show? I had another podcast guest, and he was talking about how to get a budget for your projects. And as he was talking about this topic, you actually came to mind for me because I was thinking about, well, who do I know that's really good about managing expectations, managing, managing up essentially. And that's when I thought, oh, I've got to have Michelle on the show because there's no one I've seen who can do this like you can. It's almost like it's built into your DNA.


Michelle Rovner: [03:44] Well, I appreciate that. Thanks.


Allison Hartsoe: [03:47] So tell us a little bit like why should I care about managing up? What is managing up, and for folks that haven't ever heard of the book and don't know what the concept is, can you ground us in that a little bit?


Michelle Rovner: [03:57] Sure. So in short, it's really understanding your boss's position, the requirements and making yourself known is that go to employee for, for lack of better words, for exceeding expectations and needs. Quite simply, it's managing up a reverse to doing whatever you can do as an employee. T really help make your manager's jobs easier, and you're essentially managing your manager. It's trying to restructure their focus or trying to present new ideas in it in a concise way that supports the organization's goals. You know, one of the most significant factors impact the individual's job satisfaction and quite frankly, is the relationship with their direct manager. You know that saying that people don't leave jobs, they leave managers. So when you talk about the value of a good relationship is that it gives you that solid foundation when a challenge arises, right? You've got the opportunity and the confidence and quite frankly, the trust with your manager and that relationship to have a conversation about it, to resolve issues with challenges when it comes to projects, communication challenges, anything that might present a hurdle in succeeding, and what the organizational mission, vision, and value may be. When these items become unaddressed, that's when issues arise. That's when people get fatigued and frustrated, and quite frankly, that's when you're not really a supportive employee in that role anymore. But when you talk about how you are able to manage up, if you will, it really starts with a foundation of being able to build upon a relationship and understanding your priorities, your recommendations, your asks, your expectations, not only of your manager but of yourself as an employee.


Allison Hartsoe:  [05:36] I remember, I actually read the book that was by the woman who worked for Jack Welsh at GE, and she who's his executive assistant, and she wrote a book basically called managing up about all the different things she had to do to not just build trust. That was kind of the output of it, but to smooth his world. And it was like backups on top of backups. And this was before the Internet, so you can imagine how crazy this role was for her. But it resulted in basically what you've said, which is there are these ways of reaching up to help your manager have an easier job but also aligned with the impact that you can bring to the organization. And I think that kind of dynamic must be a series of small adjustments as people go through. It's not like you just turn it on, and suddenly you're managing up. Would you agree?


Michelle Rovner: [06:31] Oh absolutely, it's not doing the manager's job. And I think sometimes that's where the confusion lies. Like, well, that's not my job. No, your job is to support and to do your job, and by if you do your job effectively and efficiently, you're able to assist her and, or I'm making their job a little easier if you will, because they don't, they know they don't have to worry about what you're doing on a regular basis. I think it's important for employees to know that, or have this all idea of what their direct managers' goals are, what's on their plate, what's their objective, what's their desired outcomes? And if you don't know those things then now's the time to set up those meetings to fix that, understand where they are coming from. Context goes a long way. And the reason why having that context is important. It's because it's pretty much tied to everything that you do.


Michelle Rovner: [07:20] Understanding what your manager's expectations are and what their goals are is what makes it more able for you to see how your work as an individual ties into your manager's success and ties into the organizational success. So it's cyclical in nature. And if you have that constant conversation, I mean one day you'll be off a little bit, or you'll feel as though you're not communicating well on. It's being able to have the confidence in what you do to say, Hey, I don't know if we're on the same page today. Is there something that, is there a project that you're working on that I can help with? Or is there a context that you can provide me on what I can do better in this area because I don't feel if we're on the same page today. I mean, it's not all the time you're going to be walking in step with your manager. That's not the goal here. The goal is to understand where the direction is going, what direction are you walking in, and how can I help you in that direction? How can I help to walk be a little bit easier and a little less problematic along the way?


Allison Hartsoe: [08:17] I love what you said about context because I think a lot of people try to help their managers. But if they don't think about the bigger picture of what makes their manager look like a hero, then they're just kind of creating busy work or noise or things that the manager doesn't value. And I think we've all had those occasions where you have a review, and you think you've done all this valuable work and your manager's like, yeah, that didn't really mean much to me. And that's not what we're talking about here. Or talking about here is really the alignment.


Michelle Rovner: [08:47] Absolutely. And it's important to ask those questions and be okay with the responses, you know, with some of those questions. Could be something as simple as, hey, was this what you were looking for? Because I value strategic feedback. I don't want to provide you work that's not beneficial to you. I don't want to just complete a task. I want to contribute to something more than just checking off a task list. And I think that's what really helps managers along that you're thinking about not just the next step, the next two or three steps and how that works. I always say answer the 13th question right. Here's a running list of questions that people are going to have for x, Y, Z project. We'll answer the 13th one. Most people have their top five top 10 I go with an odd number answering the 13th question and then you'll always be two or three steps ahead.


Allison Hartsoe: [09:39] Oh I love that idea. That's great. Well, let's talk about some examples. Are there things that you can share with us about ways that you found managing up to be effective? What was the challenge? How did you work with it?


Michelle Rovner: [09:49] Well, we'll start with, um, my first job out of college, I was a public affairs specialist for the Department of Defense working under the Department of the navy as a civil service employee. And that was very different when I look at my career now where the managerial style from militarily driven is a very top-down approach. So the ability to manage up is limited. However, some of the tactics and the strategies by which you do that are still the same. So when I worked with military, we would look to align what we wanted to do from a public relations perspective and say, okay, here are our marching orders if you will, and here's the way in which we are told that we need to do these pieces in these procedures and things of that nature. So you take the guidelines, and you mold those guidelines into what you'd like to communicate, what you'd like to see happen within an organization as long as they fit within the guideline and the structure of what has been mandated.


Michelle Rovner: [10:52] Military is a little bit more rigid in that ability to manage up in that fashion. However, if you're within the guidelines, there's an active communication and active collaboration that you can work toward the greater goal of whatever at outcome needs to be. Moving forward through the health care IT sector though, very different for a poor profit organization, I did a lot of the public relations, um, working with investors, working with our board, and things of that nature. So you have a lot of key stakeholders that you would have to make sure that we're all in alignment with the PR strategy. For example, the investors had a very different take on what our subject matter experts may have had, multiple stakeholders and what we want to put out as it pertains to our vendors and our revenues and things of that nature. So it's how do you align all those communications before providing a recommendation? And that's the key before providing recommendations. It's a matter of taking a step back and understanding each stakeholder's goal, what their objectives are, what their constraints are, and what's being asked of them, and then trying to hone in on aligning all of those things. And one piece of communication, for example, a press release. So again, the tactics that you use are similar despite the type of managerial style, whether it be a top-down or bottom-up approach.


Allison Hartsoe: [12:21] So taking those two examples, and that's a great comparison, thank you. How do you know when you're outside of the guidelines, and some organizations state these things clearly, but some don't. And you know there may be some unspoken nature about how a manager's goals should be directed. That's not quite specified, and what might be written in the organizational documentation.


Michelle Rovner: [12:49] So if there's not a clear, concise goal and what's the organizational strategy? What are you trying to achieve with the project on which you're working? From there you kind of work backwards. You say, what's the end game here? What are we trying to achieve? What are we trying to communicate? What are we trying to get our end users to understand? Because in essence, it all boils down to we are serving a customer, a client, an end user, a member, a something on the back end who's actually utilizing this information, this product or this item that we're looking to put forth. So you take what that goal is. You take a step back and say, how are we going to achieve this goal strategically, that falls in line with our company strategy? And then from that point, you may not have a managerial goal, but you have an organizational goal, and essence. Everything that we do should be tied up to the goal of the organizational structure, and what we're looking to achieve strategically as an organization. I know that sounds very lofty and sometimes PVL you're working on a very small project that doesn't tie to the organizational structure or the organizational goal. I would challenge you to rethink your thinking because everything you do in an organization should be tied to the long-term strategy of the said organization.


Allison Hartsoe: [14:04] Okay, so let's say that you have a manager that's maybe not such a great manager, and you who spent a lot of time looking at the overall strategy of the organization. How do you avoid calling them on the carpet and saying, you know, well, the broader purpose of the organization is X, and I think I should be doing this, that aligns with Y may want you to do Y. How do you manage that?


Michelle Rovner: [14:30] Well, I would say you would take a look at your, you know, we talk about triple constraints, right? So I would take a look at what the ask is way outside of what you think your organizational strategy should be or what it is in support of that strategy. You take a look at what are you asking me to achieve then? If you can't tell me the goal of this project, and if you can't tell me what we're looking to achieve, then some of the key questions are, okay, so with the resources I have, what are some of the problems that we are facing? Because quite frankly, managers don't want to hear about the problems. They want to hear about the solutions, but if we don't have a goal, and you don't have a supporting strategy for an end game, we have to understand, okay, then what?


Michelle Rovner: [15:16] What's my hurdle? What am I trying to overcome then, and then take that approach and try to find a solution from there. You could give them something to react to or recommendation. You're not asking for them to tell you what to do. You're giving them a recommendation on, given what I see as our next steps and what I anticipate your expectations are, here's what I recommend. Let me know if I'm completely off base. Give them the data to support what your recommendations are. Say we want your buying, your feedback and if we don't have your approval, please tell me what exactly is wrong with this project plan so I could course correct appropriately. They may not know what their actual end game is, but having something to react to that is solution driven and not just an amplification of a problem. We'll have greater results on the backend and in my experience than just saying what would you like me to do with this issue.


Allison Hartsoe: [16:20] Oh I love that, and is there example that based on your past experience or other things that you know that you could relate to that situation.


Michelle Rovner: [16:27] So in one of my previous roles we had a change manager in a managers to where one was a very top-down boss, worked out the marketing plans, had the data to analyze all the information. We were pretty much given the tactical marketing plans to execute upon, and then show the return, and was able to really hone in and answer the question of what has marketing done for the organization lately for lack of better words. Through the change of staff, we had a very different type of personality come in when it came to marketing and managerial styles, but it was always very collaborative, and the question was what do you think we should do, and what do you think we should do? And there was a very collaborative nature, which was wonderful. However, it was very discussion focused, and it's still absorbed a lot of time, cost and resources, but we really didn't move the needle forward.


Michelle Rovner: [17:21] The projects were kind of just stuck in the status of cyclical conversation where it sometimes felt like groundhog day, but you really value the collaboration and the conversation. But when it starts to not feel as though you're being productive, then that's where you have to take a little step back and say, these are a great conversation. What's the deliverable from this? How do we support where we've been and where we want to go this project, and in here's some data to help support all of this discussion we've had on what the next step should be. So you don't want to undermine all of that collaboration and all of that discussion because it's very important. But when it feels as though you're stuck in a dryer,


Michelle Rovner: [18:04] and you're just can't constantly tumbling around ideas.


Michelle Rovner: [18:09] Sometimes, you need a little extra push but tact the way in which we say things, the time in which we see them, the atmosphere in which they are said all play into the appropriate time to say, hey can we get the ball moving on this? Can we actually do some deliverables here? What's the next step in this process? And start mapping out some deadlines cause there are some challenges when it comes to moving projects along if there's no deadline tied to them.


Allison Hartsoe: [18:41] Yeah, I think that is the kind of environment that tends to drive some people like myself crazy because if you are a very productive person and you like to get stuff done. The time for collaboration, you know, as you said, being stuck in the dryer can really wear on that personality type. How do you handle the tact of that? How do you manage that internal feeling of, Oh my God, are we having another meeting on this versus the, you know, the tactical way of saying, you know, hey, what's the deliverable? How do you handle that internal conflict?


Michelle Rovner: [19:15] So part of that internally for me is understanding how long I'm willing to wait before progress for myself. I'm a very A type communicator, so I like to get things moving right now. I love collaborative work environments, but I also like to have deliverables at the end of the meeting. So a lot of times I take it upon myself at the end of the meeting to do a quick recap to say, based on what we discussed here, here's what I see as our next steps. Do we agree on this or did I miss something? I make a lot of I statements because if there's a lot of conversation, you're not quite sure whether not you miss something quite frankly. Or if you didn't quite understand what the output of this meeting was supposed to be. The best or having meetings to talk about the meeting that we're going to have a meeting about next week,


Michelle Rovner: [20:01] I hate those meetings.


Michelle Rovner: [20:03] But, sometimes they're necessary for those who like to communicate this way, so what's the balance between what we like to do, what other managers like to do as well. So part of this process of managing up is understanding how your manager likes to communicate. Learning are they email communicators, are they phone communicators, are they, do they do better over I am messages, or do they do better in long longwinded communications that map out every detail or bullets? Each manager is different but understanding their desire. Communication tactic will ultimately get you to the end zone of achieving a goal and being productive. I have found looking internally within myself that I have to temper sometimes frustrations when we're in a lot of these meetings because not everyone communicates, not everyone is on to the next thing if you will. Marketers tend to be very forceful when it comes to their communication styles because we are results-oriented, it's a high paced environment, let's get things done already, but sometimes it takes a holistic vision to see, okay, here are all the moving pieces at the same time. This is one tactical element, but how does that support the greater picture? And that's where I try to work very well with my managers and trying to manage up in that aspect of managing myself and my own expectations play a key role in my ability to level set their expectations within my own expectations.


Michelle Rovner: [21:36] But sometimes are quite high.


Allison Hartsoe: [21:39] I think that's really important about the managing yourself aspect. In fact, I think I remember Harvard Business Review has a whole series of articles on managing yourself, which is oftentimes think of management by definition as managing someone else, but really there is an internal process there, and I particularly like what you said about the desired communication tactic. I think people don't often look at that avenue. So for example, I have been in organizations where the long-winded email is the last thing people want to see, and like don't send me a book. That's a meeting. So understanding what tactics somebody wants to use that essentially gets you in the door. It's someone can't listen to you if you're not using the right strategy to communicate with them in the first place.


Michelle Rovner: [22:36] And sometimes it's easy as asking them, you know what I mean? I think it's quite funny that I find over the course of my career when people don't know the answer to a question or don't have an answer, they're afraid to ask. You know, there's a lot of times where I will just say, how do you prefer and talk? Because I'm a Talker, I like to talk. But if they're not a talker and he rather be very short and very quick emails and a lot of times inferred tone or inferred for lack of better words, attitude and email, it's for as many ways we have to communicate. There's oftentimes a failure to do so. And I think email is the worst form of communication, same thing with texts. Sometimes a quick phone call where you can hear someone's inflection in her voice. You can see their body language. There's something to be said about face to face communication, positive and or negative, that I think really provides the human element to managerial relationships in a work setting environment.


Allison Hartsoe: [23:32] Do you have a personal rule of thumb you use for which channel to use one.


Michelle Rovner: [23:36] So I try not to use too many personal rules only because my personal rules are mine and that doesn't necessarily open up someone else's preferred communication style. You know in work settings, of course, email is going to be the number one tactic, but it's an opportunity if I email someone, and I don't get the desired response or a response in a timely manner, and sometimes it's based on the project, or if in the email I said I'll level set to, hey, if I don't hear back from you on this day or by this date and time, I may give you a quick call just to follow up. And so the last thing I want to do is send a person another email because we all get so many. So sometimes I try to mix up the communication based on if I don't know the person that well, if it's a new manager or I'm a new employee, and I say during the interview process or even the introductory process, do you ask them, quite frankly, do you like to communicate better via email, via phone? Do you like a more greater explanation, or do you just like quick reference stuff? Sometimes to your point, you don't want a book for an email, but on the flip side, you don't want a meeting that could have been an email.


Allison Hartsoe: [24:49] Yeah, I think that makes sense. Let's switch gears just a little bit because I think one of the things I've seen in some of your prior work is dealing with different visions for an organization. We talked about the tactical communication and how that changes, but as the organization's vision changes, it's almost a different way of managing because you're changing the guiding star perhaps a little bit. How do you deal with that kind of management?


Michelle Rovner: [25:13] I think a lot of times you're looking at a big turning of the Titanic if you will. Sometimes it takes a lot more momentum and effort to re-guide something or to recourse something. The biggest thing I would say when it comes to that, and a lot of times we say people call an audible, we have a strategy. If I'm a big football fan, so we know exactly how we're going to march down the field, but the quarterback is to align and cause an audible, and you're changing your entire play. Well, sometimes you sit there and you get a lot of outside influence. There's members, and there's boards and everyone, all the key stakeholders play into it, and everyone's opinion and everyone's ideas are important. Very important for the success of an organization, specifically our organization. But it's also challenging. There might be a lot of different visions of what we should be doing, could be doing.


Michelle Rovner: [26:07] One of the hardest things to swallow, if you will, is to realize that you're not going to please everyone. And it's uncomfortable because as a marketer and as a, as an employee, and you values what they do, you want to be the yes person. You want to be the person that says we can do all of these great things, but you can't always be the yes person. So what you try to do is try to make sure you take some opportunity to seek support and compromise on, okay, if we can't do all of these things, how about we do this, this and this and try to please the masses and the key stakeholders within the organization, because you seek support and compromise, but you want to make sure that no one feels as though that their voice wasn't heard. You have to take a balanced, calculated risk in my opinion.


Michelle Rovner: [26:59] There has to be an opportunity to be able to say, if we go down this direction, all of these ideas and all of these goals will be met, but there might be a couple over here that we didn't address. How much-calculated risk is the organization willing to take by shifting gears, or shifting momentum into a different direction? And that has to be a greater conversation with buy-in, and how you get that buy-in is taking a step back with active listening. We talk about some of the tactics that we take. You listened to what the challenges are, and what other people's recommendations are, and you listen to understand, not listen to respond. A lot of times I find that people listen just to provide a response instead of listening to really understand what they're getting at.


Allison Hartsoe: [27:50] That's a good point, and in a way, a lot of what you're telling me reminds me of guidance given to couples on couple communication.


Michelle Rovner: [27:59] Well, it's a relationship. It doesn't matter if it's a relationship with your spouse, with your mom, your dad, your child, all of the basic human element relationships can be applied in a business setting. We're all human beings. Whether you're a manager or they're your employee, we're all human beings, and we all react differently to different pieces of communications, different communications styles. I'm uh, like, I've fully admitted type A aggressive communicator. I know that about myself, so I know when in communication styles if I know or setting that I know I necessarily don't agree with, I have to watch my face. I am 99.9% nonverbal communication at all times. People pretty much know my opinion on my face, right, wrong or indifferent as you grow professionally. And I am pleased to say that I've worked on this many times in my life that you tend to temper that, and you tend to understand when it's appropriate to do the deep sigh, or the looking down at the carpet, or the awful eye roll.


Michelle Rovner: [29:02] I used to be an awful eye roll in my teen. My dad can attest to that. So when we talk about how we present ourselves, that is key in a lot of ways. And I'm not talking about what you're wearing or any of that type of stuff. I'm talking about communication presentation, how we see things, the tone in which we say them, the head nods, the hand gestures. You understand who you're speaking to, and who you're speaking with, and your surroundings in that setting to try to get that buy-in, to get that warm feeling with your team members, team up and team down. We knew the team that reports to you and the team that you report to.


Allison Hartsoe: [29:40] You know, I would imagine that by mentally asking yourself to nod your head or otherwise suppress opinionated nonverbals, you know, like the eye roll that you might actually mentally become more open to people's ideas. Have you found that that's the case?


Michelle Rovner: [30:00] Oh, absolutely. I'm stubborn. I'm a very stubborn person. I've been very stubborn person most of my life, but of late, I would say in the last 10 years professionally, that's an area of growth. Um, because you tend to stop talking long enough to listen to what another person has to say beyond what your opinions are. It causes for a lot of self-reflection. And you know, we talk about what type of tactics we look at and some takeaways that I like to share later. But there are some opportunities when you take a deep-rooted look at what you like to do, how you like to be communicated with, what you do and don't like about a person's communication style. You tend to take a harder look at yourself and the way you communicated. Does this work? Does this not work? That I come off abrasive? And if you did have that human element, we talked about E Q


Allison Hartsoe: [30:53] Yes.


Michelle Rovner: [30:54] Your staff and with the people that you work with and say, Hey, if that came off wrong, I didn't mean anything by, I apologize. I realize that might have come off in an aggressive manner, or I don't think I got my point across because I responded too quickly, and I don't think I heard what you were saying. A lot of times that goes a long way when people may have said something to you, that was kind of Abrasive, or did I take that the wrong way? It goes both ways from the communicator and the listener to say, I'm not quite sure my delivery, and that was what I wanted it to be. And it's okay to say that a little bit of exposure and vulnerability, I think is the word I'm looking for to say, yeah, I kind of made a mistake. I made a mistake there and I, and I apologize for that mistake, or I can't say I'm never gonna do that again. But I acknowledged how my communication may have come off in a way that I didn't want it to come off, and being a little bit more transparent with yourself.


Allison Hartsoe: [31:57] Yeah, and for folks who don't recognize the acronym EQ is emotional intelligence, and there was a whole book series written about that, and I agree that's a fantastic way to be just a little bit vulnerable. Allow yourself to learn and shape the conversation in a different direction. That makes sense. So I want us to switch gears just a little bit again, we talked at the very top of the show about data and using data or communicating with data. Do you have an example or can you talk a little bit about when you're communicating with quantified information, and you're trying to get people to take a certain direction, but maybe it doesn't match what they feel or the direction they particularly thought that we're going to go?


Michelle Rovner: [32:46] We've had a number of those challenges, not necessarily right at where I'm at now, but in my career, there's been a number of challenges when it comes to what leadership would anticipate, or suspect results are, and what the data actually tells them. And sometimes it's a matter of being able to point to data that supports aspects of their thought process, but then at the same time saying, but if you look at this data over here, here is what is actually happening. And as a marketer, we see that a lot. For example, there's a lot of times where we'll work on a campaign, and we'll have a full vetted campaign, and we'll have commentary about, well, these emails do the best. The long emails that tell everyone everything under the sun about a certain event or the ones that do the best, they've always done the best.


Michelle Rovner: [33:38] They've always done in this way. I said, well, let's test this theory. We love a good pilot program, right? So we take some of that anecdotal information, if you will, and we apply a test and do the antithesis of that, and just see what the data says, and say, well, we've got a number of people who came to this event, and who clicked on this website, and who went through this email, who did a lot of things, but they really didn't do anything. They didn't convert, they didn't attend the meeting, but they opened the email and they click a lot of links. So some data says, yeah, this was really beneficial. But if it's supporting the goal of getting people to come to an event in a register for something, this tactic actually worked more effectively. So perhaps we take some of these ideas, and we apply this tactic to this type of event, and this tactic to more of an engagement opportunity.


Michelle Rovner: [34:34] So you try to streamline and use data to not necessarily contradict because that's not going to get you anywhere unless it's a flat out, no, this is not what we're doing on a website, or this is not what we're doing in an email, or this is not what we're doing tactically. That really doesn't get you where with management, but it's how you find that middle ground, and we talk about seeking support and compromise. Data is data, but it can be manipulated to support for or against something that you're looking to achieve based on how you slice the data, but understanding what the goal is and using data to support the end game is what's going to be key.


Allison Hartsoe: [35:17] That's a really good point because I think we oftentimes look at the first cut of data, and we say, oh, it's working, or it's not, and there's this tendency to make a snap judgment as opposed to think about how you manage up with data in order to support the right idea. Perhaps get the initial buy-in and then as you said earlier, look at that second tier of data, and really dig into what's actually happening. That's a great strategy.


Michelle Rovner: [35:46] Yeah, we tried to do that on a regular basis, when you got integrated marketing campaigns, I'm sure there's people who are listening that are not marketers, but you've got multiple touches. When people come to a website or come to an event or engage with a brand, that brand is touching them multiple times via email or social media or banner advertisements or TV or radio. One of those campaigns maybe you want to really well doesn't mean the other campaigns have an influence the buying decision along the way. So it's about looking at what happened with customers about looking what happens from to your point, the second and third tier of data, pulling back the onion. It's the same way with relationships. With this whole conversation, you can use data to look at an immediate relationship and then a second tier to see how deep the relationship goes with your customers, with your visitors to your website, with your managers and your employees. On the surface, it may look like everything's good to go, but the deeper you go or, the deeper you pull back that on you, and you realize, well, we do have some underlying communication challenges here. So you look at any type of relationship you have, there are multiple layers, and it's important to look at all of those layers across the spectrum to understand really where your footing is, to really understand what's really going on.


Allison Hartsoe: [37:08] That's great. I think that makes perfect sense. Now let's say that I'm convinced and I know I need to do more managing up. What should I do first, second, third? How should I move forward?


Michelle Rovner: [37:20] So here's a few keys to managing up effectively that I have found within myself. Then I would provide recommendations. The first thing and I've said this already, but it's important to understand your manager, not just when you first began working with one another, but throughout your relationship and your tenure with that person as your manager. Ongoing basis, it's important to communicate as priorities and your concerns and your employment structure changes. As you become more advanced in your, your knowledge and advancing your confidence in your role. It's even more important to know more about yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, how you like to work, what your goals are as an employee, and the pressures you had cause those are going to change as well. We want to number three, learn more about your own and others' preference for how they take information. We talk about their communication strategies, how they make decisions.


Michelle Rovner: [38:14] Are they quick decision makers or do they have to think about it? They have to think about it. Pinging them with four emails back to back is not going to get them to make a decision any faster. How they structure their day. Finding ways to regularly communicate your expectations to your manager, receiving feedback, asking questions. It's okay to ask questions of your manager, and it's okay to respond to questions your manager asks you about how you like to work. It's not a lot of times that people say, well, how everyone wants to communicate with me is fine. Well, you're communicating with them as well. And other one is understanding what makes your boss tick, and quite frankly, what ticks them off. I mean you don't want to push their buttons. You don't want to purposely push buttons to get a reaction, so you want to make sure you understand who they are as people when in the work environment.


Michelle Rovner: [39:05] The other piece I would say is use the information to develop and manage a healthy working relationship with them, and one that's compatible with both people. It is as an employer you're always giving of yourself to your manager and not getting anything in return, that's a communication that you need to have. There's some communications about what you like and what you don't like. Work Styles, strengths. It's a mutually shared relationship, and if it's looked at it as such and treated as such, it can blossom, and you could do very well. I do have a top five tactical recommendation that you can actually use as a checklist, and one of them being the demonstration of active listening, restating their concerns to make sure they know that you heard what their concerns are, and if you restate them inaccurately, hopefully, they will correct you. The second one is think before you speak. Sometimes I still have to work on this.


Allison Hartsoe: [40:01] Okay.


Michelle Rovner: [40:02] Especially when it comes to tone, time and contacts, taking a pause before you respond. Um, so it's important to sometimes provide context when you're presenting an idea. Um, we all have those light bulbs, and we just blurt out an idea that comes out all wrong, and it's like, well that's not really what I meant. So take a moment, pause and then present an idea or a recommendation or if you're even presenting a challenge, that's the key. If you're presenting a challenge, it's providing that context without any malice. But Donnie, any blame and that's where that tone and that demonstration of active listening comes into play. And then, of course, give people the opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns. You had your time to share an idea, give people time to express their thoughts and concerns about that idea, and then just listen to understand, not to reply.


Allison Hartsoe: [41:07] I think those all makes sense, you know, I'm gonna invert it for a second and say, if you go through these checklists, and no matter what you do you're not getting active listening. Even when you think before your speak, your not getting concerns brought to light, you're not getting traction. Is there a way you can use this checklist to realize that maybe you're in an unhealthy organization, and no amount of managing up is ever going to get you ahead? Is there such a thing?


Michelle Rovner: [41:29] I would say in my experience, it all has to do with a personal preference on how much compromise one is willing to give, because all of this is about compromise, and if you feel as though if an individual feels as they've gone through this entire checklist, and they are not getting any, any compromise or getting any traction, and all of the things that they've tried to present, they feel as though they have compromised more of themselves, and they are comfortable with to support an organization, then they may have outgrown that organization, and that's okay. I mean that's why we move on in careers. That's why we grow when we, we take on additional opportunities, and we advance ourselves. Sometimes within organizations, we outgrow the organization, and that's by no one's fault. It's just the nature of evolution when it comes to career advancement. But it takes oneself to understand how much they are wanting to participate.


Michelle Rovner: [42:30] And again, it goes back to sometimes people don't leave jobs, they leave bad managers, but is it really a bad? And then the second side of that coring is it a bad manager or the inability to see any opportunity for growth of that manager. So sometimes is it the chicken before the egg, you know, was enough opportunity being provided to manage up, or was too much opportunity provided that fell on deaf ears, if you will. But again, it's the individual employee that I think the onus lies on how much an individual employee is willing to give to an organization for an organization. But how much they take from the organization too. A lot of times it's, I learned with my current place of employment that as much as I put in, I'm getting back out. You know, it's about personal growth and what you see as reward-based of the what you're putting into an organization. If you feel the reward that you're getting from an organization does not offset the drive that you're putting into it. And that's some self-reflection you have to just do about what your next career steps are.


Allison Hartsoe: [43:38] Michelle, I think you've done a really great job managing to different types of managers, different organizational goals, different types of organizations, period, whether it's nonprofit or commercial or military. So you know, really a fantastic discussion. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, how can they reach you if they have followup questions?


Michelle Rovner: [44:00] Oh sure. They're welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn on it's Michelle Rovner. Im on ah, you just search my name, it will pop right on at.


Allison Hartsoe: [44:08] Excellent. As always, links to everything we discussed are at ambition Michelle, thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing these tidbits. I oftentimes think that I've mastered this, uh, this topic, but I actually learned quite a few things for me today, particularly around, you know, being willing to compromise and taking some of that personal relationship building in stride until you find that point where you know what, you're just not getting anything out of it. And then maybe that's your 0.4. Okay. I'm moving on, time to grow. So thank you.


Michelle Rovner: [44:43] I appreciate the time today. I appreciate you having me. It's been fun. It's been a pleasure, and I hope to speak to you again soon.


Allison Hartsoe: [44:50] Remember everyone, when you use your data effectively, you can build customer equity. This is not magic. It's just a very specific journey that you can follow to get results. Thank you for joining today's show. This is your host, Alison Hartsoe, and I have two gifts for you. First, I've written a guide for the customer centric Cmo, which contains some of the best ideas from this podcast, and you can receive it right now. Simply text, ambitiondata, one word to, three, one, nine, nine, six, (31996) and after you get that white paper, you'll have the option for the second gift, which is to receive The Signal. Once a month. I put together a list of three to five things I've seen that represent customer equity signal not noise, and believe me, there's a lot of noise out there. Things I include could be smart tools. I've run across, articles I've shared cool statistics, or people and companies I think are making amazing progress as they build customer equity. I hope you enjoy the CMO guide and The Signal. See you next week on the Customer Equity Accelerator.


Key Concepts:  Customer Lifetime Value, Marketing, Digital Data, Customer Centricity, Long-Term Customer Value, Marketing Leaders, Analytics, Creativity, Product Development, Audience Research


Who Should Listen:  CAOs, CCOs, CSOs, CDOs, Digital Marketers, Business Analysts, C-suite professionals, Entrepreneurs, eCommerce, Data Scientists, Analysts, CMOs, Customer Insights Leaders, CX Analysts, Data Services Leaders, Data Insights Leaders, SVPs or VPs of Marketing or Digital Marketing, SVPs or VPs of Customer Success, Customer Advocates, Product Managers, Product Developers

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