Managers can recount individuals and situations where they felt employees did an excellent job of managing up. The person did not seem manipulative, arrogant or self-centered regarding their career. They demonstrated many of the attributes mentioned earlier in the “Do” category and did not participate in the “Don’t” area at all. Many times they shared similar interests, but were not clones or mini me’s from the Austin Powers movie. They direct reports contained some of the following qualities;
- Brought something intriguing to the table, with special qualities or contributions
- Provided information about the job, concerning the workplace and on the industry
- Reliable and could be counted on to follow through on assignments
- Performed their jobs well, exceeding expectations
- Took an interest in the manager’s job
- Make the manager and the team look good, drawing rave reviews from many in senior leadership
- Authentic in their approach to the job and their clients
- Could be trusted to tell the truth regardless of the consequence
The manager is the manager because they like to get things accomplished. They are aware that some people are inauthentic in relating to them. Because the manager has input into hiring, performance reviews, compensation and terminations, employees tend to be guarded even when they have an open door policy. Many employees genuinely stated their opinions and intentions, whereas others are playing games, telling a manager what they think they want to hear, to win praise and recognition.
The Know System™ for decision-making was featured in the book, The Isle of Knowledge (available on http://www.amazon.com). The Isle of Knowledge is a fable set in the South Pacific with the hero on a journey of enlightenment, to better decisions. He is mesmerized by the journey and the inhabitants on his quest to ask the right questions to make better decisions. The Isle of Knowledge contains a methodology to help people manage up in an easy to follow series of questions.
The Know System is based on the word Know. If you use the four letters in the word Know you will have a system to gather information. Take out a sheet of paper or your computer, smart phone or tablet. Write Know at the top of the page or screen. Begin writing the words that come to mind. Be generous with the rules, but only use the letters from Know. You will arrive at the following words that are useful for this exercise;
- Know, Won, Now, No, On, Own, OK, Ow, Wo, Wok, KO
A skillful employee will start off asking questions to learn about themselves (self-awareness) and their manager. What do they know and what do they need to know? They may use Who, What, Where, Why, When and How to gather the information they need on personal and manager goals, values and interests. Who can give them information on the manager when they are conducting their interviews to learn about the manager’s habits and history?
Self awareness will give them their goals and objectives. If they managed up effectively, what would their world look like? How would they feel, what would they gain from it? How can they make it a win / win where the individual and manager’s goals are reached?
What are they doing now to manage up? Are their techniques the right ones? Are their techniques consistent with their goals? Are there aspects of their performance and personality that are forming a barrier? Are they operating with the right priorities and set of objectives?
We recognize there are some things they must remove from their activity list. They must say ‘No” to some things. They cannot say yes to everything and reach their goals. They may reach burnout unless guidelines are put in place. There are sections that are frowned upon by your manager; you may feel it is advantageous to be on the same wavelength. There are procedures you have said yes to that requires a change of heart and direction.
You must be on at all times. Authenticity is required as we stated earlier, but you must also be persistent and consistent. When you are on message, on target and on fire, you create a barrier to ward off those elements that try to distract you. There are negative people who will try to bring you down as well as your manager; you need to make sure you don’t inadvertently toss your manager under the bus.
You will be held accountable for your actions. You are responsible for your career and your daily performance. The relationship with the manager is largely up to you. If you adopt this mindset, you will take the necessary steps to make it a success.
OK, Ow & Wo
If you are doing a poor job at managing up, this Ok performance is not satisfactory in the long-term. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great said “Good is the enemy of excellence.’ If good is the enemy, Ok cannot be far behind. The only time Ok is satisfactory is on a checklist. If you have a list of the areas you want to cover, to manage up effectively, OK will work marvelously, as a confirmation that an item is completed.
Ow is the sound we make when we are in pain. Sometimes pain says we are doing the wrong thing or we are doing the thing wrong. Pain also is the discomfort we go through anytime we do something different or we change. Some of the strategies in managing up maybe new and difficult and the awkward nature may seem painful. Soon they will be a part of your repertoire and beneficial in helping you manage up.
Wo is the sound you hear when people want to slow down a horse. This can apply to us, if we are going too fast, implementing too many techniques. You may need to reduce the list to a manageable number of actions and only add when you mastered a few at a time.
Sometimes you have to stir things up a bit when you institute variety and change. Just because you have always acted a certain way does not mean that you always have to act that way. Variety is the spice of life and makes flexibility a breath of fresh air. Innovative techniques are ways to endear you to a manager and become an indispensable part of her inner circle.
If you are not successful at managing up, it is safe to say, your failure could knock you out of the running for whatever goal you want to accomplish.
Managing up is a skill set that is built on relationships and high performance. You may institute many of these practices and still not be invited into the manager’s inner circle. You may try them and the relationship with your manager is still distant and cold, but it is your responsibility to make every effort to make this work. The manager has a lot of power and influence over many aspects of your career. You can make a difference in showing them you are an indispensable member of the team, who rallies to make them look good, has their back and able to help them achieve their goals and objectives.
Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser
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