"You're a manager, but you have a manager too. There're always going to be things you need from them. You're going to need clear direction, quick approvals, cross-functional support, adequate resources, timely decisions and honest feedback. Well, guess what? Bosses are a lot like your employees.
They don't always give you what you want, so you got to manage them. Kind of like you manage your employees. And it's called 'managing up'. Now, the hardest bosses to manage are either indecisive, they're procrastinators or they're MIA. They're missing-in-action.
When you need something, they can't make a decision or they wait till the last second or they just won't respond. They're missing in action. So what do you do?
- The first thing is this: pick and choose your battles. Don't carpet bomb them with requests. There's a difference between wanting something and needing something. The more self sufficient you are, the better. When you tell your boss you need something, you want it to mean something. And if you're always needing something, your requests just become noise.
- Next, adopt their communication style. If they like email, email them. If they prefer the phone, call them. If they want face to face meetings, meet face to face. The key to getting your way is operating in their comfort zone, not yours.
- Now you have to motivate them. You got to motivate employees, and sometimes you got to motivate your boss. You do that by leading with the benefit. If your request is going to make them look good, lead with that. If it's going to avoid a problem, lead with that. And if it's going to eliminate risk, lead with that. Tell them upfront why your request is important to them. That's how you get their attention.
- Then cut through all the BS. Be direct. Be succinct. Be clear with your request. Don't beat around the bush. Be firm. Be confident. Be positive.
One last point. The key to managing up is being easy to manage. Don't be the complainer. Don't be the needy one.
Don't bring problems. Offer solutions. Make your boss's job easier, and they'll tend to make your job easier."
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