How to manage "up"

by External11 Nov 2013

Melinda Tunbridge, director of HR at SBS, provides her top tips for ensuring your best work is noticed by the CEO

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 communicated face-to-face, over the phone or via e-mail?
2 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 agendas in advance and be prepared. This comes with a caveat: do your homework and comment wisely.
4 Relentlessly improve – 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.
Melinda Tunbridge
5 Take things in your stride
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 and 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
When a new project or task needs doing, 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.
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 organisation. This is even easier in today’s world with social media tools.

Melinda was named a finalist for HR Director of the Year at the 2013 Australian HR Awards. She will be speaking at the National HR Summit in April 2014. Visit for details and to register.