iStock_000017030365LargeIt sometimes appears that getting the views of middle managers by leaders seems to be based more on relationships than skill or experience.

Why is it that?

Perhaps it’s because some colleagues appear to have a more positive, naturally cohesive relationship than others.  An uncomplimentary point of view may be that these employees ‘suck up’ to their boss!

A more fitting perspective in an age where ‘EQ’ is as important as ‘IQ’ is that usually this person is able to “manage up”.

Take this scenario. A senior marketing executive wants to sell in a new concept of a single youth brand, delivered over many platforms. The relationship with the leadership team is relatively new, he presents his idea in a too complex and incredible way. It’s delivered in an assertive, way with little room for negotiation. He doesn’t understand the principles of managing up.

Now take the example I once saw of the person who wanted to introduce a new and expensive promotional tool into an organisation. The tool was introduced to the Executive Board over a period of 3 months. At every Board meeting she gave the right amount of information to build confidence, regularly updated the team on progress asking for small decisions leading to a point where the Board’s last decision was about budget reviews and measures against KPIs.

She understood the principle of managing up.

In her book,  Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship with Those above You, Rosanne Badawoski shares many colourful anecdotes about managing up while working closely with Jack Welch. She cites the need to be a mind reader, anticipate the future and the importance of chemistry and developing a great working relationship.

From what I‘ve learned and seen, the basic principles of managing up are:

  • Know your boss’s goals, and what is important to him or her.  Then understand what is important to their bosses?
  • Ensure that you’re communicating clearly about what is going on in your area of responsibility.  What’s on your list of objectives and what’s going well and what’s still needs improvement?
  • Understand and manage your boss’s style, learn the best way to approach your boss in any given situation.
  • Present solutions.  If something’s not going to plan outline the issue, present options and offer your recommended solution.
  • Be aware of what is happening in the organisation and how and what your team is doing that contributes to those efforts.
  • Always remember timing can be everything!

Take a proactive approach to developing an authentic relationship that moves from boss-employee mode to a more equally balanced partnership relationship where mutual trust and understanding of each other roles is imperative to achieve business objectives.

Everyone has a boss.  If you manage your relationship correctly, you’ll know it’s working, because in the busy and competitive workspace we operate in, it’ll be your ideas and opinions that get noticed.

If you’d like some help with this do make contact – dirk@dirkanthony.com