When we discuss with clients how we might include upward management in foundation and middle management courses we deliver for them, the first reaction is often one of doubt.
Surely, rather than focussing on manipulating line managers, the key message should be that performance management is all about the responsibility to carry out their role based on objectives set by senior managers?
However, it is important to recognise that there are many aspects that everyone needs to consider in the relationship between an employee and line manager – and it is definitely under the banner of ‘influence’ rather than ‘manipulation’.
So let’s take a look at the aspects of effective upward management and how to do it successfully.
Firstly, some questions to which you must know the answer:
- How does the senior person prefer to communicate – email or verbally?
- Do they prefer planned one-to-one meetings or casual conversations?
- What do they care about?
Secondly, with the answer to these questions very clear, the key to effective influence is:
- Remain factual especially when presenting information. Be very precise about what you want, why you want it, and what will happen if you don't get it.
- If there are problems that you should be solving yourself, don’t automatically push them upwards.
- If you do need advice, present some workable options to show you have considered the issue in depth.
- Be proactive, upbeat and engaged.
- Focus suggestions on business needs.
- Be believable and have evidence to back up your recommendations.
- Anticipate their concerns and show you have considered them and have solutions.
- Respect their time. Never be late for a meeting and be always prepared for it.
- Hit deadlines and avoid any nasty shocks on budgets.
- Admit mistakes but explain how you have rectified the situation and prevented repetition.
- Make the senior manager look good.
- Remember Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird “You never really know…until you understand things from their point of view, until you climb into their skin and walk around in it.”
There is, of course, no single answer for every situation or every person. In our programmes, we used this framework for people to simulate discussions with their line manager resulting in a very personal commitment and action plan. The recognition that they too are managers and their reports will similarly need to ‘manage’ upwards was a key learning point – how could they help and benefit from the process?
Interested in finding out more about middle and senior management training? Contact us now to find out how our solutions can help your organisation.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.