Editors Note: Today’s post on BEALEADER comes from Resident Writer Tony Richards. Tony shares with us his thoughts and tips on how leaders can manage up others.
Do your homework. You must take the responsibility to learn as much as possible about the people who are senior to you. What are their expectations? What are they focused on? You need to know these things inside and out as well as how your supervisor likes to communicate, receive and handle information. Do not fall victim to your feelings of asking too many questions or your thoughts of giving a bad impression. You are being proactive about asking what the priorities are. If your supervisor reacts badly to your efforts of learning more about what is important, you may be in the wrong place.
Work out your messaging. Think about what you are going to say in advance before you go in to see them or if you run into another senior person at a meeting or gathering. If you know a social setting is coming up, you might think about doing some research on hobbies they have, where they volunteer or any awards they or the company many have recently won. Also, make them aware of any projects you are working on which are of interest to them and if they are doing well.
Actively seek out and take on new responsibilities. Find things in your department or area that need help or attention before your supervisor notices it. Take responsibility to lend a hand or work out a simple solution. If you think it might require a higher level of help or expertise, bring it to your supervisor’s attention. Ask how it might be solved and offer to give it try to help out, if you think you can handle it.
Be bold. When you are reporting to your supervisor or meeting senior people, make sure you make eye contact and use a firm handshake. Smile a lot and be yourself. Be interested in what is going on in the organization. Don’t try too hard to be interesting. Always be brief and to the point, do not ramble.
Always be self-aware in the moment. You have to be always reading the situation. You may continue to talk if the senior person seems interested, if not, move on as quickly as possible. Your ability to read situations like this will be as important as what you have to say. Managing up to senior people involves timing. If you continue talking when the moment is not right, you give the impression (and may be the reality) you lack self-awareness. Knowing when the moment is right to talk and not talk says a lot about your potential to rise in an organization.
Exercises for you:
- How can you connect in ways which show you add value to senior management?
- How can you position yourself for opportunities to deliver key thoughts or insights to supervisors?
- What can you do to master small talk in social situations?
- What are your supervisor’s interests? Pet projects? Favorite charities?
- Perhaps you could develop some talking points about what you are working you know would be of interest to those above you?
What else can you add to my list?