I heard Suzanne Lemen, the principal of Dynamic Corporate Solutions Incorporated, speak at the HR Florida conference in August 2018, and she had some good thoughts on managing up. I’ll present them in bullet points, but they seem to fit two major themes:
1) Ask questions of your manager
2) Have a deliberate strategy for your relationship.
- First, some questions you might want to ask your manager:
- What are your challenges?
- What are our team’s areas of growth opportunity?
- What do you expect from me that you’re not quite getting?
- What excites you about your work?
- How do you like to communicate?
- What should my main 30/60/90 day objectives be?
- Respect their time by keeping meetings and emails short and avoid popping in.
- Do not surprise them.
- Match their language (style, yes, as you’ve read here over and over, but also their values and objectives).
- When you have differences of opinion, kindly educate them on your point of view, then be sure to always do what you’re told when out from behind closed doors.
- Get to know their weak spots, then find ways to help them.
- Make them look good to others.
- Make your work priorities match their goals, then report progress.
- Know how they like information and what their usual questions are, so you’re prepared.
- Always be ready to answer “why” questions and numbers questions.
- Remember, your manager is an ally, but you need more than one ally.