Importance of Managing Up
Importance of Managing Up
To manage up is the process by which an employee lets his/her leader know how to handle and manage employees at the workplace; hence effectively managing their relationship with their boss. In other words it means building an effective work relationship with employer, supervisor or boss. Subordinate staff can manage up by clearly understanding their job description and also understanding the job description of their supervisors (E. & Zambito, 2013).
It is very important for employees to learn how to manage up. Healthy work relationship between the employees and their leaders is very important. This relationship determines the employee’s job description, career progression, salary increments and bonuses, and overall employee wellbeing. Bad relationships between employees and their leaders make life at the workplace miserable. Unhealthy relationship may jeopardize ones chances for a promotion.
Managing up is a symbiotic relationship. Bosses require honesty, full cooperation and reliability from supervisors and subordinate staff. The supervisors and subordinate staff look up to their bosses to establish connections with other bosses, obtain resources and to set priorities. It is the responsibility of each employee to manage his/her relationship with their boss. Sometimes it seems that seeking the advice of middle supervisors appears to be as a result of relationships rather than experience or skill.
Consider the first scenario: a top level sales executive intends to apply a new concept to sell a new product that will be distributed over several platforms. The relationship between the leadership and executive is relatively new. The sales executive presents his idea in an incredible way but it is too complex for the leadership team to understand. There is no room for negotiations between the team and the sales executive although the concept is presented in an assertive manner. This is show that the executive does not know the principle of managing up.
Now consider the second scenario: a marketing executive who wants to introduce the same concept that will then be used as a promotional tool for the organization. The concept is presented to the board of directors over a period of time. At each board meeting, the marketing executive presents the appropriate information necessary to build confidence, keeping the board updated regularly on the progress. The executive engages the board regarding every decision to be made to the point where the concept was unanimously agreed upon and approved. This executive knows the principle of managing up (Lencioni, 2009).
Working as an active team player is nowadays a requirement in every job description. Leaders value a team player because they are aware that the success of the organization can only be realized when all its employees are team players. It is every leader’s desire to lead the right team; a team that is composed of different personality traits. One can be a resource to his/her leader by being reliable, respectful, flexible and willing to commit.
Since team players have different personality traits, they possess different passions and skills, but have few qualities in common. A reliable team player can be depended upon by his/her leader because he/she keeps the team leadership up to date on what is happening and also provides feedback when necessary. A reliable team player delivers on his/her promises and is trusted to provide guidance to the rest of the team when called upon.
Another important resource is flexibility of the team player who is not afraid of rules being changed in the middle of the game or change in route taken. One should have an open mind regarding their personal beliefs and should incorporate feedback of other team players. The team player can also be resourceful by comfortably taking on responsibilities that may not be included in their job description.
A leader appreciates a team player who commits and puts the interest of the organization first rather than his/her personal opinions and interests. Someone who is willing to put more effort than they are asked in order to ensure that the organization’s objectives are realized. Such team players are dedicated to achieving exceptional outcomes regardless of the amount of effort required.
The last important resource is being respectful to the leader and other team players. One must always take the other teammates into consideration even if they are of the contrary opinion. If one team player has a contrary opinion, he/she must present the opinion in a constructive and respectful manner. A respectful team player inherently influences others.
There are numerous ways of helping the team leader to be a good leader. These are sharing resources and information with the team leader, being positive and establishing better communication skills. Sharing information freely enables the leader to distribute the information to all team players and ensures that they are readily available to whoever needs it. Good communication skills improve coordination between the leader and team players.
It is easy to build a strong relationship with the team leader by simply following a 6-step program. The first step is to establish one relationship at a time. One can build a relationship by, for example, sending newsletters; this helps one to keep in touch. The second step is making connections and being friendly. This seems self-evident but a friendly chat can greatly enhance the relationship. Another way of making a connection is through finding something in common.
The third step is asking the leader questions. Leaders love to express what their opinions are and their suggestions. If one asks the leader a question and listen attentively, their relationship is instantly enhanced. The fourth step is telling the leader about yourself. The leader is in a position to know his/her team players better if they genuinely open up about what they feel and think. This promotes the relationship between them.
The fifth step involves being an active team player. If one wants to establish a relationship with his/her leader, one must go to where the leader frequents: conferences, picnics, fundraisers and events. This increases the chances of interaction with the leader. The sixth step is overcoming fear of rejection. Most employees fear being rejected and the only solution is to get over it. It is important to note that rejection does not mean end of life.
The strategy that I would use to manage up is to support the success of my leader by working around his/her weaknesses. While it sounds counter intuitive to support the success of a bad boss, nothing is gained by making him/her fail. Facilitating the leader’s misery or failure may damage one’s reputation. The strategy involves assisting the leader focus on his/her strengths. Another way is to work proactively around the leader’s weaknesses.
E., W. M., & Zambito, J. (2013, Nov). Managing in All Directions: Up, Down, and Sideways. The Bulletin, 81(6).
Kenner, C., Pressler, J. L., & Klepper, R. (2008, Nov/Dec). Managing Up. Nurse Educator, 33(6), 235-236. doi:10.1097/01.NNE.0000334799.83664.14
Lencioni, P. (2009, Jan 2). How to Manage Your Boss. The Wall Street Journal.
Sanjiv Kumar, Vivek, S. A., & Chauhan, &. A. (2015, Jan-Mar). Managing Bosses and Peers. Indian Journal of Community Medicine, 40(1), 14-18. doi:10.4103/0970-0218.149263
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