Joe Takash, a behavior strategist and author of the newly released Results Through Relationships: Building Trust, Performance, and Profit Through People, serves up five best practices for "managing up." They are:
- Choose Good Timing — Discover the best times in which to approach your boss by asking, "When are the best times to meet with you if I have questions?" This simple inquiry can build credibility because of the awareness and consideration of their busy schedule. An added benefit is that, when you meet with them, you're likely to have a more focused, less distracted listener.
- Prepare and Plan — Practice your approach vs. just winging it so you can succinctly explain up front why you're there and what you need from them. WARNING: Be solution-focused! Bosses want to know what you have thought of or would suggest about the inquiries you have. This is a crucial component for demonstrating leadership and initiative.
- Align Understanding — If your boss does not state his or her expectations or ask about yours, don't waste energy griping to others about it. Instead, rise above and ask them to be clear about what they need from you. Requesting the primary duties you should be focusing on or discovering the qualities that make up the ideal professional in your position not only impresses them, but it also provides you with a roadmap for success.
- Follow-up/Follow-through — One of the biggest barriers for positive change is lack of accountability. In managing upward, you can hold yourself and your boss accountable by agreeing on times/dates to follow-up at the conclusion of each meeting or communication exchange. Your boss may think, "These behaviors would be great in a client services or sales position," which may be a promotion you earn twice as fast as you may have.
- Own Your Results — A young lady named Karen once approached me after a keynote presentation I delivered to her company. With a pleasant, apprehensive smile, she said: "Joe, I really believe I'm equipped to be our marketing manager. I have experience, passion and knowledge, but I don't know what to say to my boss. I was wondering if you have advice." I said, "Karen, I have for you a magic formula and it can be described with one word: ASK!" I politely explained to her that the biggest success stopper is that cynical voice within each of us. Owning your results doesn't mean you won't experience fear as you navigate your career, it's the commitment to courageously ask for what you want and be prepared to state why and how all will benefit.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.