Every one of us must face the challenge of influencing someone who managers us. While some people have a natural talent for this, most of us have a hard time getting started since doing this well is more of an art than a science. In this episode, Bonni and I discuss eight things you can do to influence in the correct way.
Bonni and I discuss our eight suggestions for managing up:
1) Support your manager publicly: Avoid gossip if you can, and when someone is truly trying to problem solve, do your best to help them understand each side of the situation instead of being critical. One of the fastest ways to lose trust with your manager is for them to discover you've been speaking poorly about them behind their backs.
2) Tell your manager what you are planning: It rarely is a problem to over communicate something…most people take the opposite position and don't communicate enough. Talking openly about what you are planning to do is helpful when the outcome your manager expects isn't 100% clear – or if your manager has a history of changing their mind about a project without sharing that change.
3) Avoid surprises: Managers and people named Bonni don't like surprises…and none of us want to be caught off guard in a difficult situation. Help your manager save face by informing them when something doesn't go as planned. This is hard is your manager is the “shoot the messenger” type, but it's still an essential way to build trust over the long-term.
4) Come to the table with solutions: This goes right along with number #3. Absolutely address things quickly when there are issues, but also come to the table with a game plan for how it will get resolved. Your plan doesn't need to be perfect, but it does need to reflect that you've done serious thinking about the problem and are ready and willing to put your talents into practice to resolve the issue.
5) Connect requests to their priorities: Most managers care about impact and sustainability. That means that whatever you are trying to do to influence your manager should align with the core mission of the organization and/or provide additional revenue or cost savings. If you can't make the case for either of those two areas, you're probably barking the wrong bark up the tree.
6) Spend time thinking through what your boss won't: Everyone has their strengths and everyone has their blind spots. You do a huge service to your manager when you determine where they don't have strengths and do whatever you can to support them in that areas through ideas, proposals, and actions.
7) Don't go over their head: Unless it's a serious ethical or legal situation, avoid trying to influence your manager by going over their head. Usually this only works once (the first time) and you'll pay the price for a long time after that, assuming you are still around.
8) Get advice from others you trust: Talk to other people who know your manager and the things they care about. Learn about their style. Getting helpful advice from others can help you position your requests in the right way. Even if you don't dialogue about it, observe what others do to influence your manager successfully.
Remember, you won't always get what you want – and sometimes that is a good thing.
Finally, don't get discouraged if you don't see people playing by the same rules. You can really do amazing things if you do these eight things with consistency!
Beginning this past week, the Coaching for Leaders newsletter will be showing up weekly in your inbox. Expect a short article with tips and ideas you can put into practice right away. You can subscribe at this link.
Thank you to Tor Stenbakken and Jonathan Dean for liking our Facebook fan page!
If this show has been valuable to you, please rate this show on iTunes to help others find it for the first time.
Wherever you are in the world, whatever is on your agenda today, take one idea from this show to engage and develop someone you lead.