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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

A Starter Guide To Managing Up

Believe it or not, it is not always clear to employees why it is important they manage up to gain success. It’s probably been made fun of so much that many are afraid of being called names like “a**-kisser” and “brown-noser”. If you want to be successful moving up, one thing you will have to come to grips with, you won’t move up without standing out from your peer group. So, if you are worried about standing out, forget about being promoted, you will leave it to random luck and your number may never come up!

You won't move up without standing out from your peer group

If you are not concerned about this kind of nonsense and you really are serious about your career, I have some basic tips for you this month on how you can be outstanding, develop yourself into a valuable resource and yes, move on up the ladder of success. One important thing to consider is that you and your direct supervisor are mutually dependent on each other. They need your help and cooperation to succeed and also you need their support and guidance to do your job effectively.

Here are a few points to consider:

How does your manager define success in his or her role?

This is critical for you to know. How can you be a valuable resource and help if you don’t know what your supervisor is trying to personally achieve? You cannot. You must know the answer to this critical question so you can align yourself with their goals and initiatives, and then support those as best you can. Your manager should know you are on the team working hard and helping them get to their goals and dreams.

What is your manager’s communication style?

Do you realize that until we learn how to better communicate with others, we often communicate in the same way we like to be communicated with? We don’t consider how others may wish to receive communication; we just think everyone must be like us, right? Wrong. Your manager has a preferred way to both communicate and be communicated with and you must discover this style. Do they like a lot of explanation and details or would they rather have bullet points? That’s just one example. You need this information in order to achieve the best pipeline of exchange between you and your manager.

What is your manager’s tolerance for risk and change?

Why is this important? Because as someone who is helping them achieve success, you will be providing suggestions and ideas. If your manager has a low-risk tolerance, you do not want to suggest something terribly risky. You will be seen as reckless and not reliable. However, if your manager has a penchant for risk and change, you don’t want to be seen as playing it too safe or being too predictable.

How does your manager make decisions?

This is a great opportunity for you to step up and be a real resource. There will be times your manager will be stuck on a decision. It might be that you can take the whole thing off their plate. If so, this is a home run for you! If you can take something that is part of their overwhelm and relieve them of it, you become a star immediately. If you know their communication style, you can talk with them through some possible impacts of various options. You can also recommend people for them to talk to who have experience or knowledge in that area. If you know how they tend to make decisions, you can be a winner in this situation.

What does your manager expect you to achieve?

This is the gold mine. Having clarity on expectations and outcomes for your role is crucial. This is also a good time to explore some of my questions earlier in the article. You need to know what results you are expected to produce so you can overachieve!

What are the five things your manager expects you to do well to meet their expectations?

You want to do well and succeed. In order to do that, you need to know what you need to do well. You can remove a lot of barriers to success by getting clarity on this question. After all, nobody can do fifty things well. In major league baseball, it’s rare to find a player with a 5-tool skill set. These are players who can throw well, run well, hit for average, hit for power and has fielding ability. These are superstars in baseball. What are the five things you need to do well to be a superstar for your manager?

For more resources on leadership development, sign up for Tony’s Monday Morning Coaching Memo.

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