How Can I Manage Upwards?
However brilliant your manager is there will come a point when you start to complain about their approach and the way in which they try to get things done. This can be around a failure to listen, to encourage, to recognise and value your efforts and possibly in the way in which their managerial style changes and shifts with time.
The opposite pint of view, which must be considered, is to look at your approach and behaviour to identify if you are, at least partly, responsible for any complaints that you might put your manager’s way!
The trick here is to point out the shortfalls in what your manager is doing but I a way that is done to add value to the organisation, not merely to just criticise for the sake of it.
Most relationships between the manager and their employees will feature emotion and behavioural aspects of that relationship: anyone in a position of power take up a disproportionally large focus in the mind of the employee. That said there are four strategies that can be used to ensure that there is a healthy relationship between both sides so that this does not become just and authority-based relationship.
- Be a resource for your manager: if you know what the leader needs it is far easier to influence them and manage the relationship. This is about developing skills and abilities that the leader does not have so that your individual power base becomes that much stronger. This also requires a real commitment to align yourself and your work to the purpose and vision of the organisation.
- Help your leader to achieve what they need to achieve: always ask for advice so that you really understand what is needed and how it should be done. This does not mean asking about trivial detail, but you should feel comfortable on putting forward your own views and opinions on how tasks are being dealt with. Tell your manager what you think!
- Build a relationship with your manager: seek out feedback and encourage a friendly but critical review of your performance. In this way you can make your points and identify areas for improvement in systems and processes that you have identified, and which show your initiative and drive. These ideas are always welcomed because the further the manager is away from the activity the less knowledge they have of the practical and physical aspects of the task. Always seek information from your manager about their experiences and the wider picture in the organisation.
- Have a realistic view of your manager: you should never have idealised expectations of what your manager can do and what they might be capable of. Similarly, never hide anything from them as inevitably such issues will always come to light when you least want them to! Never criticise your manager to others as this again will emerge when you least expect it to do so and will always do you real harm: keep quiet and carry on!
However good your manager is always reserve the right to disagree occasionally – this shows you have a backbone and that they are never right all the time!
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