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CXO

Managing Up. Not the same as Sucking Up.

Most of today's more thoughtful managers believe that the best way to improve their results is to ensure that their subordinates, or team members, are working at their own best levels.  Consequently, a great deal of time is spent working with their folks as individuals or in team meetings. By getting to know their strengths and weaknesses, the manager believes he or she will be able to make big improvements in productivity and job satisfaction overall.  That will reflect well on them as leaders, they believe.

Well intentioned.  But not the best use of the manager's time however.

The most successful managers in most organizations recognize that spending more time helping their own boss to succeed is a better use of their energy and focus. When the boss starts to regard you as someone who is generally positive in outlook, has new ideas, and is dedicated to helping them succeed; they, in turn, will start showering you with more resources. Why? Because they'll want more 'good stuff' from you. If, by adding to your budget or headcount, they'll get more of your support and help - it will come.  Might even be an unconscious decision on their part. People just naturally will help those who help them.

All of us appreciate getting a little help to become more successful.  Here are a couple of suggestions for helping the boss - and - helping yourself:

  • Just fix it.  I have a client who once said, "If one of my team is bringing me a dead cat; they better have a shovel too."  You don't want to be seen as one of those people who show up at the boss's door with problems all the time.  (S)he's got enough problems of her own.  And if the boss starts associating you with the problems you bring, he starts to think that you're the problem. You'll be avoided, not promoted or given recognition.

Much better: When you have a problem, fix it and then tell the boss about it after the fact. Let the boss come to see you as a 'fixer' not a problem child.  If you can't fix it yourself; at least bring a couple of suggestions for how to fix it.  It's important that the boss sees you are not simply delegating your problems up.

  • Don't Make the Boss Nervous.  Probably your boss has enough pressure in his or her life already without you adding to the load.  Don't be the person in the group meetings who always notes the potential problems or hassles which will result from a prospective course of action being discussed.  In every organization, there's always at least one person who thinks that they're the only one who can anticipate 'disasters' and feels an obligation to tell the rest of the team about them while still in the concept stage.  Rather than looking smarter than the others, that person looks like a know-it-all to his peers and makes the boss nervous with all the doom and gloom.

Don't be that person - let someone else get that reputation. You want to be seen as an idea person. A positive person who sees a better future.

  • Never Denigrate a Peer to the Boss.  There are times when you're with the boss and it's just the two of you talking like 'colleagues'.  She may ask you for your assessment of someone on her team.  It feels like, "This is just between us, I trust your opinion, give me your insight.  You're my most important player....." 

The problem is, you don't really know who the boss likes.  He may be friends with the dude he's asking about.  Perhaps he went out on a limb to get the individual promoted and wants to hear that it was a good decision.  But you mistakenly use the opening to tell Boss what an idiot this guy is, how he screws up, and that you don't think he's the right stuff for the company.

That may be the last time the boss asks you for your opinion.  And you won't even know why.

                                                         Till next time,

                                                         Career Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

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