Managing Up to Get What You Need

Picture an organization where everyone knows exactly where the company is heading and what his or her individual role is in helping the company get there. Creating this kind of organization is possible, but it requires good “followership” as well as good leadership. Individual employees can help their boss to manage them more effectively by taking some initiative with the management process. Here are three areas to focus on:

Working Together to Set Clear Goals—All good performance starts with clear goals. Individual employees can help the process by reaching clear agreements up front with their manager or supervisor on their goals. Remember, this is not a win-lose confrontation. Your aim is to agree on target goals that both you and your manager agree can be achieved.

Identify Your Competence Level—Once you’re clear on what’s expected, the next step is to identify your skill level and what you’ll need from your manager to accomplish the agreed-upon goals. Are you new to the task in need of a lot of direction, or are you an expert who just needs the outcomes defined and room to work? Maybe you are somewhere in between and could use both some direction and some support.

Learning How to Ask for Direction and Support—The final step is to use “I need” statements to open up conversations. For example, “I need some direction on this task. What would a good job look like? What should I accomplish first and when is it needed?” Or, “I need some direction and support on this task. Can you tell me if I am on the right track here? Would you remind me why this is important to do?”

In today’s busy work environment, managers and direct reports need to meet halfway when it comes to setting goals, identifying competencies, and having conversations about needed direction and support. By working together, both groups can accomplish more, resulting in both individual and organizational success.

3 thoughts on “Managing Up to Get What You Need

  1. These are great points.

    I strongly believe that, although we would all love to have a great boss, the reality is that this isn’t always the case. Anyone who has held a position of leadership will know from experience the difficulties faced in being a great boss.

    As a employee, you really do have the opportunity to be a great follower.

    You might not be able to change your boss, but you can change the relationship you have with them.

    Here is a potential starting point:

    Learn all you can about your boss based on:

    Their Conduct (their morning routine, daily structure, working style … how they conduct themselves at work etc)

    Their Communication (what and how they communicate, their body language, attitude, demeanor, are they a talker or a listener etc)

    Their Perspective (level of experience, values, motivations, pressures, priorities, agenda, likes and dislikes etc).

    By learning all about your boss, you can then work out a way of aligning your working style with theirs. In so doing, you will help them achieve results, become a valued and respected team member, and your actions will ultimately result in both individual and organizational success.

  2. Pingback: LeaderChat on Managing Up | Followership Collective

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