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I have a manager who loves to give status updates on my behalf in meetings with senior folks. Unfortunately her updates are usually wrong to the point where I then look stupid going to people after the meeting to get their help resolving issues my manager assured them were totally fine when in fact they were not.

I don't know why my manager gives updates on my behalf, or where she gets her information from because her updates usually don't reflect the updates I give her directly.

It's very frustrating and makes my job quite difficult for no apparent reason.

Should I correct her in these meetings? Or talk to her privately about it?

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    I had a manager that would talk about my work very differently from the way I gave my updates to her. She was actually doing me a favor by emphasizing different parts of my status and phrasing things differently so that it would be better received by the audience she was speaking to. I am an engineer and the things I focus on as important weren’t always the things that would be understood as important by more senior managers. Her changes helped senior managers understand what I was doing and that I was doing it well.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 20, 2021 at 19:57
  • @ColleenV Yes I suspect there is a reason behind it, which is why I don't correct her in the meetings. I just don't understand it and it creates more work for me as I don't really get the help I need from the folks in the meeting. They think everything is fine when i could use their help.
    – Terry
    Apr 20, 2021 at 20:09
  • My experience with this: talking to the manager in private is well worth the conversation, but don't expect miracles. A 50% improvement is better than nothing. Should it be necessary, the rest can be mitigated by direct contact with counterparts at your own level with the customer (internal or external). If necessary you can explain away statements made at the meeting as "pro forma" or "10000 foot level view" or "executive summary" or whatever silly euphemism you want to invent. After doing this a couple times everyone will compensate.
    – Pete W
    Apr 20, 2021 at 21:30
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    Can you find out why she does this? Is it intentional? If it's not intentional, you should meet her privately just before each meeting go give her your update and also perhaps give her a cheat sheet she can use for during the meeting. Apr 20, 2021 at 22:27
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    As a manager, my recommendation is to talk to her privately. There are probably reasons why she feels she has to rephrase/change your updates when talking to more senior managers. Talk to her, try to understand her reasons and maybe you can agree on what the updates for "reporting up" should focus on - which problems are beyond your team's control and thus worth mentioning? Which ones are just her responsibility to fix?
    – TvF
    Apr 21, 2021 at 0:41

3 Answers 3

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Should I correct her in these meetings?

Nope, doing this will most likely back fire, and you can come off as passive aggressive. Generally speaking, you should always discuss a situation with your manager first. Can you imagine if you spoke to your managers boss first, and they speak to your manager about a conversation you had regarding a communication mix up? Surely you can see how that would most likely be bad for you.

Or talk to her privately about it?

Definitely. This conversation should come from the premise of "How can I communicate the actual status of X more clearly". A constructive helpful tone is critical here.

I don't know why my manager gives updates on my behalf, or where she gets her information from because her updates usually don't reflect the updates I give her directly.

Ask them, in an effort to make their life easier, if they would prefer an email that has the information needed? Or another approach you could suggest is that you attend the meeting as well and give the update yourself.

In the end, this situation needs to be resolved between you and your manager. Going over your managers head is not a wise move here. Try to sort out what is causing the communication gaffes and solve that problem.

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    My benchmarks may simply be more "open" cultures where talking to higher-level people is the norm. Either way, I think this answer would be better with an explanation of why it's unwise to talk to the boss's boss.
    – josephkibe
    Apr 20, 2021 at 20:55
  • @josephkibe > It is very certainly culture-related. Where I work (Belgium), going to the manager of someone is pretty much considered agressive. Strangely enough a lot of people here would also probably find direct feedback agressive though, but still less than going to their manager.
    – Laurent S.
    Apr 28, 2021 at 20:44
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to the point where I then look stupid going to people after the meeting

No you won't look stupid, it won't take them long to recognise that the issue is with the updates given by the manager, they probably have already. You don't have to do anything except your job. If they ask why you need something when the manager says you didn't, just politely refer them to her.

Overtly going over your managers head has potential pitfalls, and arguing with your manager does as well. Let them argue with each other while you get on with your tasks.

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They could be doing it unknowingly. They genuinely might not understand your updates.

Or talk to her privately about it?

Start with this. Have a constructive talk with them along these lines: "I don't feel like you understand the updates I give you, how can I help make them clearer so that our communication is improved"

Or, if you would rather avoid a potentially argumentative/defensive conversation (I don't know your manager). You could rephrase how you give them updates. Instead of just rattling off an update you could try something like this: Explain what you've done, not done, etc and then say something like this "Does that make sense? Could you please tell me what you believe my work entails so that I know I have explained it sufficiently" They should, hopefully, repeat back everything you've said. This should enforce, in their head, the work you've done.

If they continue to keep giving false updates then you know they're doing it deliberately. If they do genuinely understand your updates but are lying to upper management, and you've spoken to them about it or tried to be as clear as possible with your updates, the only course of action left IMO is to go over their head.

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