Want to save the boss’s job? Perform better

Veterans of watching and playing sports and working in business for a living, remember countless regime changes. The owner or senior leadership brings people into a room or connects with them online to make an announcement. The current boss is being replaced, which could mean, demoted, reassigned or terminated. They inform the workers that it was time for a change. They may deliver platitudes and say such things as, “they were a fine individual and have contributed much to the organization.” This decision may not be linked to performance, but it was time to go in another section. This unleashes quite a buzz within the organization. Both positive and negative comments are made about the person and the decision.

Let’s move our focus immediately from the person making the decision and the person being removed. Let’s focus our attention on the people who work for him or her. On Sports Center and the local news media, one by one former players are interviewed.” “He was an excellent manager, a player’s coach, a person of high intellect and sports acumen. He taught me everything I know. She took a chance on me, when no one else would.” The plaudits and accolades go on and on.

In business and in athletics, there may be factors beyond the coach or the leader, which influence performance. However, one point comes out loudly and clearly, if the person was so great and instrumental in career growth to receive such high praise for their leadership,” why didn’t the people perform better?”

The best way to show a coach or a leader what you think of them is through excellent performance on the field, in the field, on the court, in the office, on the plant floor or in the classroom. Results are the measure of a person’s effectiveness. Is it logical to assume that your performance is an indicator of how you felt about them? If they are not getting the best from you and it is not them, then it must be you.

If you are not delivering up to your capabilities, are you in the wrong job or somehow being hampered by underlying issues. Are you compromising the effectiveness of your team, and placing your job and your manager’s job at risk. Bear in mind, it is the role of the manager to diagnose and treat some of these issues. It is commonly said that somebody has to take the heat and the blame when the team does not perform up to its capability. The leader or coach is usually this individual. Managers cannot fire the whole team or replace every individual over night. Somebody must take the field, sit behind desks or operate the machinery. Often it is believed that firing the manager will jolt the team into an accelerated, escalated level of performance. Sometimes this works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

What can be done?

When you bemoan the fact that, “another one bites the dust or another one got away or another quality coach leaves, think of all of the assistance they gave to you. Remember the instructions and wise counsel. There may have been working above and beyond the call of duty to get you comfortable in your job. Think of their families, as you think of your own. Then I want you to inspire and motivate yourself to give your maximum effort. Energized and engage your team members into working to their highest levels of achievement. You are doing this for yourselves, the organization and the manager you claim to admire and respect.

Performing to your highest level can be very self-serving. It enables you to have a greater role in retaining the best manager for you. If you admire the quality leadership of this individual, make sure that when they leave the organization, is because of some of the reason other than the team not delivering its best. The next person who walks through the door, on to the court or field or into the plant, was selected by you as surely as if you were in the interview making get the job offer. Retaining the manager you want may also keep you from getting the manager from Hell who may be lurking in the shadows waiting the right moment to assume the position you provide for them.

You may know him on both sides of this issue. People have come up to them and stated how unfair it was that they were no longer in the role. They went on to say they will never forget the things they taught them and how it made them a better person or manager. These comments were appreciated and well received. I’m curious; if it meant so much to them, why didn’t it show up in their performance. Why did she choose this year to deliver below prior years? Did they do everything within their power to keep the coach? Are there things that they could’ve done differently that could have led to a different result?

The manager, coach or leader is a part of the team. They set the tone for the velocity of the team and their ability to scale higher mountains of expectations. The team can be compared to a chain and sometimes the manager is the weak link in the chain and should be replaced. Sometimes, there are other individuals on the team that are not living up to their potential and the manager must develop them or remove them from the organization. Failure of the manager to make the tough calls may be an indication that they are not strong enough and should be replaced. In situations where the manager is highly regarded for their character, vision and leadership skills, it is imperative that this bears fruit in the performance of the team.

Post blog assignment

The next time you see a news story, where a person is being removed from a job, you may want to ask yourself a few questions and look for the evidence provided to justify the action.

• What did they do to deserve the termination?
• What information was given to support the action?
• What did the people who worked for them have to say about them?
• Was there evidence of being a good person, but not strong enough to make the tough decisions?
• What information was provided about the performance of the team or the department?
• Did you get a sense that the team was performing below its capabilities?

If you want to keep the manager you have, either as your boss or within the organization, you can contribute to this by performing at the highest level of your capability. This may spare you the inconvenience of complaining about the organization or feeling guilty about your culpability in the demise of your beloved leader, manager or coach.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Managing Up – Part 2 (The Manager’s Perspective)

Double_S-O-B_C

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

Know

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?

Won

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?

Now

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?

No

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.

On

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.

Own

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.

Wok

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.

KO

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.

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Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser