“You will have a unique perspective, based on who you are, your experience, your knowledge and your understanding of a situation. Sometimes, your unique perspective might be just what is needed…”
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This is an interesting topic and the reason I am posting it now is because it is a challenge for so many and specifically because one of my clients raised it with me the other day.
What does it mean?
Firstly, I’d like to define what Managing Up means, in my view. Managing Up is to be a trusted colleague and to have a voice with those who are of a higher status than you, your boss, for example.
It is perhaps an unfortunate term, as it can suggest the tail wagging the dog and that is far from the truth and a million miles away from what anyone needs or wants.
I see Managing Up as distinct from Delegating Up, which will be discussed in a future article.
Why is it important to be able to Manage Up?
At times, maybe often, you will see things that others don’t see. You will have a unique perspective, based on who you are, your experience, your knowledge and your understanding of a situation. Sometimes, your unique perspective might be just what is needed.
What are some of the perceived risks of Managing Up
- Getting into conflict with your boss
- Your boss taking the credit for your ideas
- Your boss not doing what you say
- Feeling frustrated that they don’t see your point of view
- Feeling undervalued
- Your boss not
- sharing their worries with you
- Defensiveness or getting angry
- Feeling reluctant to stick your neck out, after a previous bad experience
The list goes on…
How to Manage Up Successfully
1. Rename, reframe – Instead of Managing Up, it might be helpful to think – How can I become a ‘trusted colleague’?
You are trying to create a relationship that is mutually respected. Where you can voice your opinion safely and can work together for the benefit of the company, clients and team. There is no ‘management’ to be done, there is only collaboration and openness.
2. Know the parameters – Every relationship has parameters that must be observed to be successful.
This is key to your success here. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to believe their value as an employee is attached to being right and this can damage the relationship. When you believe success relies on your advice being acted upon, as soon as you have won the argument (assuming you do), you may well have damaged the trust. If your point is not acted upon, however, you are likely to feel aggrieved.
Remember, you don’t have the responsibility that your boss has and you won’t necessarily share the same perspective as each other. Your boss might have a broader understanding of the strategy, for instance. Therefore, it is good practice for a trusted colleague to detach from the outcome, when it comes to offering up your ideas and opinions. By all means, get fully behind your proposition and give it your best. Then let go. Your boss owns the decision.
3. Think first – Is what I am about to share constructive and positive? Does it benefit my boss, the organisation and the team?
4. Practice patience – It is easy to get frustrated. It takes strength to practice patience. It will pay off. Focus on your own deliverables and make sure your work is of the highest standard, avoid getting distracted by politics, gossip or what other people should be doing and remind yourself that rejection of one idea or opinion does not mean a rejection of you. Stay confident, stay open and whatever the result, know that you have at least sowed a positive seed and a different perspective.
Wishing you luck! Please share your experiences with us. It is always so inspiring to hear when you have had a great result.
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