Reading through a number of management and business books, a lot of them talk about managing down. How to motivate people and get them to do what you want when you are their boss. Turns out that is really easy. You listen, help and give them the tools to do their job. They want to do a good job and will show up day in and day out to do it. Now there is a lot to hiring the right people to make your management position easier and that is another post, or book. Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock. Where there is less direction and certainty is managing up. There is a really high percentage of people that leave their jobs because they are unhappy with their immediate supervisor. While I haven’t been in that position, I’ve left jobs because of stagnation in the position and because management wasn’t moving or innovating fast enough, I can relate. My current position as a manager and someone who wants organizational improvement to continue moving at a steady pace is frustrated when strategy and implementation is put to the back burner.
Here are the insights that I have found in three companies over the last 5 years.
- Prove it. Whatever you have found, gathered insight on, or can prove is happening at other companies, it isn’t real to your company until there is evidence provided to top management.
- If it doesn’t work the first time, go tell someone else. Your boss isn’t listening to you. I get it, been there, done that. Spread the word in the firm on whatever it is you are trying to do. Don’t say that your boss won’t listen, just spread the idea. It will eventually be implemented. Downfall to this strategy – you won’t receive credit.
- Enjoy your job, but want more. Unfortunately there probably isn’t a company out there that will take and run with all of your ideas. Finding a way to exercise that creativity that is being under utilized outside of the 9-5 is what is best for you.
- None of the above sound appealing? Keep pushing and having meetings and bringing more and more evidence about what you are trying to do. Maybe even try a test with a small client to see if that fits your theory.
- The worst thing you can do is give up. It demoralizes you and starts that gray hair or baldness early. Find a release that eases the stress of not moving at the rates you want, find that mentor in the community to help you through the challenge. Use that free time to do something more.
Managing up isn’t easy. It can be a long road especially as someone new in a firm with entrenched leadership. Biding your time and being patient early in your career often isn’t easy either. Great careers are made by sticking it out. Having fun while you’re doing and not getting burnt out in the process. Enjoy the ride, don’t move cars to quick and most important of all, make friends. They will be helpful in whatever lies ahead.