Managing up

by External14 Oct 2013

Melinda Tunbridge outlines the importance of visibility and the skillful art of 'managing up'.

If you’re punctual, keep your head down and show you are a team player – surely your manager will notice you? And there’s no way your manager will be able to overlook your hard work, right? Wrong!  And what’s the point if nobody notices?

Recognition and reward usually finds people who have learned how to maximize their exposure. Being visible, and dare I say it, maybe managing up!

As Peter Drucker states in his book, The Practice of Management “You don’t have to like or admire your boss, nor do you have to hate him. You do have to manage him, however, so that he becomes your resource for achievement, accomplishment and personal success,” 

What do I do? Check out the following eight simple reminders 

  1. Know who you’re dealing with.

Establish a relationship.

Build the relationship by checking in periodically whether you need to or not. You don't have to share your private life, or be friends with your manager to achieve a relationship beneficial for success and visibility.

Know how your manager communicates best. Is information better received face-to-face, over the phone, via e-mail? 

  1. Present issues and propose solutions.

Make sure that when you bring a problem to your manager, you bring a solution or at the very least, options. Most managers today have to deal with their own manager as well so help them to manage their own visibility.

    3.    Become a known factor.

A proactive approach to work is always noticed. In a matrix environment or in this world of virtual teams, working on cross-functional teams also gives your talents exposure outside of your own area. A "known" employee has the advantage.

Learn to contribute in meetings. Comment on something outside HR. Read agenda’s in advance and be prepared – it comes with a caveat, do your homework and comment wisely.

4. Relentless Improvement – Inside the Box

We all constantly talk about thinking outside the box. That’s fine, but ignore the inside of the box at your peril. Make sure you have the basics right, better still, continually improve on the basics.

5. Whatever Happens Is Normal

Learn to thrive in chaos. Generally plan but become completely at ease with the reality that something totally unexpected will happen.

To succeed today means making the right choice, and then making the next right choice quickly.

6. Take a chance

But make it calculated & educated. It is critical to fully understand an opportunity before you jump in.

What if ? — What if you are 100%? What is the worst that can happen? You move on backed by yet another learning experience.

7. Ask For More, then back yourself

Whether it’s a new project or task to be done, step on up. Why wait to be selected?  Speak up, step up and then back yourself. Ensure you are getting more responsibility and more opportunity for exposure.

8. Learn how to boast

You can be the most productive, innovative results driven professional in your organisation, but if no one knows about it – what’s the point? The key is to find a way that feels comfortable for you to communicate your wins.

There’s that saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” Increasing your visibility isn’t about sucking up or brown nosing – it’s about positioning yourself so your best work is noticed. Take the initiative to be relevant, contribute, and make sure your efforts are noticed by your industry as well as your organization. This is even easier in today’s world with social media tools.

Our relationship with our managers is a mutually dependent one. Being visible and managing upwards is about making sure you do the best job you can and that the right people know about it.

About the author

Melinda Tunbridge is the HR director at SBS