Sitting alone in your office or cubicle at 5:00 pm on Friday afternoon, you’re staring through the wall and thinking about better connecting with your boss and earning just a modicum of breathing space to do your job.
Is that too much to ask?
Have you ever felt like this? I have. So now what? Keep reading for the answers.
In today’s modern and fast-paced organizations where speed to market and corporate profits meet lower employee morale and higher turnover, it’s more important than ever leverage your relationship with your boss.
Managing Up is not a behavior you’re born with. It’s not a skill that you're taught in a college classroom or during new hire orientation.
Managing Up is a skill and a behavior that we learn through the “school of hard knocks” or from others who’ve looked up from the trough of sorrow to learn a way to overcome difficult bosses and their heavy-handed influence.
Your boss might be perfect, the absolute best to ever hold a leadership position! Consider yourself lucky and never ever leave their side. They’re the unicorn of bosses. For most of us though, this isn’t reality, so I encourage you to keep reading.
With 100% certainty, you can master simple techniques to manage your boss and achieve the freedom you need to reach your full potential. I’m excited to share a simple step-by-step method of Managing-Up in any organization, with any boss, and in any circumstance. These are universal steps that will improve your relationship and give you room to navigate without being smothered.
The world of your boss is never as it appears. She faces daily challenges, just like you, but hers are multiplied by quantity and complexity. In this daily environment, Manage Up to reduce her distractions and bring more calm across her organization is very helpful.
Learning to Manage Up is essential because your boss, like most today, operates in a macro environment and across many dimensions and segments. There’s no shortage of problems. It’s important to recognize this, and it will help later when planning your personal action plan.
Your boss has his specific set of hot buttons. Understand what they are and what triggers them. They are usually non-emotional because of the rapid-fire nature of solving organizational problems. Consider it this way, when is there excess time or energy to be emotional about a whirlwind of business decisions?
Another environmental trait that your boss likely has is that he thinks in abstract concepts, trends, and ideas. There’s not enough time available for them to micro analyze your business, therefore the likelihood of a disconnected relationship is higher.
Complete a simple discovery exercise that helps you recognize your boss’s environment. Knowing these elements will help you create the first step toward an actionable plan.
Your boss is distracted and often disconnected from the daily sausage making that is the inner workings of your business. Remember, it’s likely he’s consumed with navigating a swamp filled with political posturing, innuendo, and backroom deals. Is this always the case? Certainly not, but the 80/20 rule is a good rule of thumb to follow. It happens enough of the time, with most bosses, to make it a regular and expected occurrence.
Now it’s time to turn the tables and “decide” to take the unprecedented step of Managing-Up by training your boss to be the leader you need. Doing this will bring you stability, sanity, personal space and the freedom to become the most productive version of yourself.
Does this sound unusual? Not normal? I hope so!
In today’s politically correct world, “not normal” is a great thing! I’m not suggesting at all, not even a bit, to be rude, disrespectful or arrogant. What I’m suggesting though is to be very “intentional” about how you “choose” to engage and interact with your boss. Be decisive yet polite, confident yet engaging, transparent, yet supportive. Training your boss might come as a shock to you but there’s no reason to feel anxious about it.
Why is this the case and how can that be?
It’s simple, and here’s the secret…... your boss will never know they’re being trained! In fact, your boss wants you to manage them. He dreams of having his direct reports help him become more effective and successful. He yearns for more help and less passiveness from those around him. No-one really thinks about managing up and helping their boss find more margin in his day, week, and month.
When you shift your mindset toward managing your boss, it’s likely that you’ll be the only one doing this! Again, normal sucks and your behavior here is anything but!
It’s important to understand the environment of your boss, which we discussed in Step 1. Once you recognize and understand key barriers that impact your boss’s effectiveness, you can create a simple method to address them.
Take the results from your discovery exercise in Step 1 and begin addressing these behaviors, one by one. To start strong and prepare for building your customized action plan (in the next step), complete my free discovery worksheet available for download in Step 1. This PDF worksheet includes the following categories to consider:
Now it’s time to consider the “how” in managing your boss. There are countless methods and tools you could use to begin this relationship shift.
Remember, the goal we’re seeking is to achieve a newfound level of confidence and credibility with your boss. With this in place, you will operate with more independence and less micro-management will be your reward. Your boss will turn their attention to others not following this system.
I want to focus on one specific tool that anyone can complete, implement and experience a positive impact. Your boss’s confidence level will skyrocket almost immediately.
I picked this tool because of its simplicity and impact it will have on any boss. Managing Up is a skill and a behavior, and this tool takes advantage of both attributes to blow your boss’s mind and shift their attention away from you. The result is you managing your day focusing on your priorities.
The tool I recommend for anyone that seeks this shift is a one-page Focused Dashboard. No need to reinvent the wheel, I’ve created this simple tool for you and you can use it immediately.
Here are 10 reasons and benefits to using a one-page Focused Dashboard to Manage Up and train your boss to connect with you more deeply:
Now it’s time to take it to the next level and put the car into first gear and start. As with many things in life, starting can be the most difficult thing to do. I will share my personal experience with you. This does not have to be hard.
I’ve made it simple for you to get started today, it’s an easy decision. Here’s how:
(Pro Tip: Set up a recurring event or reminder in your Outlook or Google Calendar so you never miss sending an update)
With all that you’ve implemented through this method, your boss will see you through a different lens. This perspective shift is likely to create a level of confidence that will provide you with space to breathe, positive visibility, and a pleasant work environment where you decide what’s important.
Freedom. That’s what we want. Is that too much to ask? I say “Hell, No!”
For more: Listen to the Aerospace Leadership & Life Podcast, Episode 11, to hear me discuss and unpack Managing-Up
About Steven Foust
Steven is an aerospace business and leadership executive, coach, podcaster, online course creator, and entrepreneur.
With more than 30 years of business and leadership experience, he helps overwhelmed professionals crush performance and grow their careers so they can regain balance and take their life to the next level!
Steven’s mission is simple.... to serve others by providing guidance that inspires action and transforms the trajectory of their business, career and life. He helps professionals like you gain clarity, identify your "WHY", establish a road map and unlock the possibilities of your future.
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Free Managing-Up tools mentioned in this post:
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