This article was based on episode 152 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get the chance to win a copy of Crush Your Career when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join.
When we talk about managing people, we are usually referring to the team working “below” us. Dee Ann Turner, however, says that to be most effective, we also need to attend to those above us by managing up. Dee Ann is a 35-year veteran in identifying, selecting, and growing talent. She is also the former vice president of talent for Chick-fil-A, where she helped shape the company's historically remarkable culture.
When we “manage up”, we help the people above us - whether it’s our boss, our clients, or our board of directors - so they can better help us. Dee Ann shares her advice on how to use performance reviews, idea sharing, and culture-modeling, to generate a healthier, more reciprocal culture for everyone involved.
MAKE YOUR BOSS’S JOB EASIER
Everyone answers to someone else. We all feel the pressure of needing to deliver. To make your life easier, look for opportunities to make your boss’s job easier. For example, performance reviews can be one of the most awkward and uncomfortable experiences for any manager. Yet, rarely are we concerned with how the other person feels when giving us feedback. Managing up means considering how uncomfortable your boss might feel in that position and helping to take the lead. Remember that you are the expert on yourself. Go into the review prepared to share what responsibilities you’ve taken on, skills you’ve learned, and results you’ve produced in this last performance cycle. Give examples from each of these by telling their story. And, acknowledge where you still have growth areas or could have done better. Shaping the narrative of your recent work success and opportunities will help guide your boss in how to assess you fairly.
SHARE YOUR IDEAS IN WAYS THEY CAN BE HEARD
Innovation often comes from people doing the work. They see challenges and opportunities that those higher up or farther from the work might not notice or consider. The key is learning how to present these ideas in a nonthreatening way so that others will respond positively.
Questions are a powerful way to open up conversations for possibility. Consider asking “I’ve been thinking about this, what do you think about it?” Or ask about the organization’s greatest challenges, offer a suggestion, and ask if they think it will work.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to share ideas in a way that makes your boss believe she came up with it. Dee Ann says not to worry that you're giving up your power. Instead, she says to remember this quote, “There’s no limit to what a person can do if they're not concerned about who gets the credit.” When the boss or team succeeds, we succeed, regardless of who gets the credit.
COMMUNICATE ON THEIR TERMS
Rather than relying on your default communication style, ask your boss their preferences. Do they prefer texts, emails, or voice notes? Work in the communication styles or modalities that are most helpful for those listening to you. This increases the likelihood that you get the information or answers you need in a timely manner.
We all want to have a positive experience at work. While it’s more intuitive to think about how we can empower those below us, we shouldn't diminish the importance of or influence we have over those above us. If we want to have a good relationship with our boss, we need to consider their needs and preferences. By tailoring our communication style to what is most comfortable to them, sharing new ideas in a way they can best be received, and giving them the narrative of our successes, we help guide our bosses in how to understand and manage us better. When we do what is best for others, we increase our chances of creating the best situation for us as well.
KEEP UP WITH DEE ANN
Amazon Link to Crush Your Career: https://www.amazon.com/Crush-Your-Career-Interview-Launch/dp/0801094372
Crush Your Career Landing Page: https://www.crushyourcareerbook.com
Get the chance to win a copy of Crush Your Career when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 152 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.