Managing Up is not sucking up

August 1, 2011 by · View Comments 

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Managing up is not political game playing and it’s not sucking up.  It’s a conscious approach to working with your supervisor toward goals that are important to both of you and your organisation.

In many organisations decreasing resources and increasing expectations means that things are tough.  As well as the obvious physical and financial resources, time has become a even more scarce resource and you must accept this.

Digging out some old articles while preparing some workshop materials, it amazed me how many of them had people heading out for long lunches with the boss and applying softly, softly influencing techniques. Today’s climate requires something a bit more straight forward, so here are my current top 6 tips for Managing Up.

1) Understand your boss – Ask yourself:

  • What is my manager ultimately trying to accomplish and why?
  • What does she value most, both personally and professionally?
  • How do they like to communicate?

Frame all your communications around your answers to these questions.  Link your request to his or her goals, show how it meets with their needs and deliver the request in a style that works for them.

2) Don’t dump problems on his or her doorstep that you should be solving yourself – In the short-term this is often the easy option, long term it creates a business bottleneck that is bad for the organisation, your supervisor and you. Handle the problems that you’re paid to handle and enlist your boss for the stuff that requires his influence in the organisation.

3) Be specific about what you need - Whether it be money, resources, or some other form of assistance, be very specific about what you need, why you need it, and what will happen if you don’t get what you need.

4) Respect everyone’s time – Everyone is busy. Show up on time, come prepared to discuss whatever topics need discussing, and end the meeting on time.   As soon as you or your meetings are seen as a waste of time you’ll struggle to get their attention.

5) Present options - If the decision isn’t yours to take, present options with the consequences associated with each alternative.  Keep it objective and stick to the facts.  You might have an emotional connection or passion for one option but make it clear and factual why you think that is the right option.  Sometimes your recommendation isn’t the chosen option – if you have presented all the facts from the start move on confidently knowing you have done your bit.

6) No surprises (Good or Bad)- Admit mistakes…quickly

About Rob Priestley

Rob Priestley has written 13 articles on this blog.

Senior Consultant

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