I recently enjoyed this article [http://bit.ly/4fcas] on the concept of “Managing Up” or actually titled “10 Ways to Make Your Boss Love You”, by Anne Kadet of SmartMoney.com. As I was reading the proposed ten ways, I was finding myself switch back and forth between IT manager and IT employee and finding consistent examples of each point in my career.
For number 9, “Make Like Mini-Me”, Kadet restates an old adage: “They say that if you want to be the boss, you should dress like the boss”. I was reminded of a manager a few employers back that was constantly commenting on people in his department’s dress. Was a particular female wearing slightly revealing clothes for his department? Was a particular male wearing regular jeans and a casual shirt for a one on one meeting with this manager? He was constantly making these comments to my manager, but never to me, about the folks on my team. Thus, my manager would have to relay the information to me and then I would have to strategize on how to get the message across to the employee in a way that the employee would accept as process-able feedback. Thus began my learning of the art of communicating illogical, non-technical information to primarily logic focused IT engineers (another article in the works for this one).
For number 1, “Put in the Hours – When It Counts” definitely rings true. I had an employee once that was constantly coming in early, staying late, and coming in on the weekend. Initially this appeared as dedication. But as time went on, the focus on the hours in the chair wasn’t matching the error rate in work the individual was performing. Thus, very quickly, the extra hours became an additional negative because the energy was focused on appearance rather than results.
Number 2, “Empathize” with your manager is a winner all around. Your manager is trying to solve or at least make meaningful progress towards a better state for any number of problems. If you can offer some insight and follow-up with a possible action plan that your manager can support, you are going above and beyond your expected duties for the person that has the most influence on your day to day professional existence, a la paycheck. As a manager, I hate having to determine a solution in complete isolation. Employees that can professionally challenge my ideas or offer creative solutions for consideration become the employees I frequently engage in tactical and strategic discussions … as well as sell up the chain as being linked to successful endeavors. This blends in an aspect of number 4, “Be a Conduit” as well.
Number 5, “Ask for Help” … I can’t stress enough … sitting at your desk burning time trying to figure something out is exceedingly frustrating to a manager. I find myself thinking “why doesn’t this individual just ask the person next to them for some new ideas instead of just sitting their stuck in the mud”. The perception of asking for help equals a weak employee just doesn’t ring true with me. I find the complete opposite to be the real truth. Someone that asks a question pertaining to moving them forward on a given problem which then in turn allows them to complete a task faster is someone that is worth having on the team and even giving stretch assignments.
Lastly, Number 10 … Probably for the first decade of my career I struggled with understanding why I honestly believed I was consistently delivering quality output per my role, yet I observed others getting more recognition. The others were even viewed as borderline competent by peers. But in the later decade, I have to admit that I agree with number ten with greater fervor. The concept of strategic sucking up baffles my, at heart, engineering view that logic and delivery trump bumbling, illogic, rumor and perception. The notion of likeability over competence gives me a migraine. But as I look back over multiple Midwestern industries, this theme has been consistently reinforced. If you are finding that your own honest assessment of your work quality isn’t getting the recognition that it deserves, maybe you aren’t putting enough energy into “managing up”?
Anyone have strong feelings on these or any of the other points in the article?