Facilitate Your Success by Managing Up

Management Development

Facilitate Your Success by Managing Up

Passed over for promotion? Mediocre raise? Not landing the best assignments? It may not be due to your job performance. No matter how stellar your results, how much your co-workers and stakeholders depend on you – if your manager doesn’t know what a good job you’re doing, it won’t matter.

Too many professionals labor under the same myth: they assume that if they work hard and perform well, their boss will notice. The truth is, every boss has big responsibilities and may be too busy to notice everything their reports accomplish. The boss-employee relationship is a two-way street. Rather than passively wait for recognition, praise and direction, smart employees will proactively build a productive relationship with their bosses.

Excelling in the workplace is all well and good – but to be really successful, you need to know how to manage up. Consider the following.

  • Schedule regular face-time with your boss, and make sure you prepare an agenda for each meeting to make every moment count. Ask for feedback and expectations so you know how to deliver the right results.
  • Align yourself with your manager’s communication style and preferences. Is she analytical? Then support your ideas with facts and statistics. Is your boss always super-busy? Cut to the chase when you speak with him. Observe whether your manager prefers early morning meetings or after-work get-togethers and schedule accordingly.
  • Leave your ego at the door when you speak with your boss. Your goal should be to learn how you can get the best results and make your department look good. That includes learning your boss’s boundaries to ensure you’re not stepping on his or her toes.
  • Rather than waiting for instructions, look around and propose solutions to existing problems.
  • Demonstrate your long-term commitment by asking which skills you should develop to increase your value to the company – then follow through with the right classes and coaching.
  • Own your mistakes as quickly as you can. Explain how they happened and how you’ll avoid making the same mistake again, then do whatever your boss asks to get the problem resolved.
  • If your manager takes the heat for the team’s mistakes, allow him or her to take credit for the team’s success. This tells you that your manager takes ownership of all the department activities.
  • Learn the art of saying “no” – if you’re so busy that the quality of your work is suffering, tell your boss you can’t take on anymore.
  • Volunteer for high-profile projects. If other managers and executives notice your performance, you’ll make your boss look good – and set yourself up for bigger and better things.

Chances are you might be doing some of these already. The key is to take a proactive role in building your relationship with your manager, rather than passively hoping for credit and guidance. Often these tactics can make the difference in not only your experience at your current company but in your career overall. Remember, no matter how successful you get, you’ll still answer to someone – which makes learning to manage up one of the most valuable skills you can acquire.

Traits of Global Leader Part 2: Be Mindful

In my recent post, Traits of Global Leader Part 1: Know Thyself, I introduced my theory that great global leaders have two essential sets of traits: awareness of self and awareness of others. That first post explored the awareness of self, including understanding your personal brand, sticking to what you believe, and how these two traits affect public perception of you as a leader.

Now we’re going to move on to awareness of others. This doesn’t mean that great leaders are universally liked. As a recent Inc. article on leadership explained, “Great leaders aren’t always the most likable people. In the long run, great leaders recognize that their job is to get people to do things they might not want to do, in order to achieve goals they want to achieve.”

In a nutshell, your goal as a global leader should be to earn respect by doing the right thing and making the hard decisions that benefit your organization. At the same time, you don’t want to alienate your employees — so be sure to demonstrate empathy and understanding, even while reaffirming your role as a strong leader.

Of course, many leaders assume they’re already aware of others in every way that matters, but there are two practices that can deepen every leader’s ability to connect with others.

Listen to People

Plenty of leaders like to talk, but the best leaders realize the value in listening. The problem is, a huge part of being a good listener is acknowledging you don’t know everything, recognizing when you don’t know something and allowing someone else to fill you in—a tall order for many in leadership roles.

Once you can get over the fact that you’re not always the most informed person on a particular subject, you might be surprised by how much you learn. There’s a less obvious reward too: the enhanced respect that comes from giving your employees an opportunity to shine.

This is especially important when critical or difficult decisions must be made. Sure, you could just make the decisions yourself, but by opening up the conversation to others on your team you can gain valuable insight and discover fresh angles. More importantly, you give your employees a chance to be a part of the decision-making process, which recognizes their value and allows them to become invested in the outcome.

As TV host Larry King once said, “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

Broaden Your Reach

When was the last time you talked to an entry-level employee or visited a far-flung office or division? Traveled around to store locations? Rolled up your sleeves to help with a small project? To many employees in your organization you may just be a name at the top of an organization chart, or the office where major decisions are made – and that needs to change.

Great leaders are more than just a name. They’re a symbol and a source of encouragement, stability and expertise for employees. So don’t hide — get out there and meet your people and get a taste of their daily lives at work.

Best Buy’s CEO, Hubert Joly, epitomizes this notion. When he took over as Best Buy’s CEO in 2012, he spent a week working as a floor employee at a Minnesota Best Buy store, helping customers, restocking shelves and going on Geek Squad calls.

I had a similar experience when I started my project with the global, Swedish-owned furniture giant, Ikea. They asked me to work for two days in a store to understand fully what an employee’s day was like. I worked the cashier, lugging furniture in the warehouse, in floor design, sales, and in the back offices. It was a phenomenal experience and taught me a lot about Ikea’s company culture.

I think Kasper Rorsted, head of global manufacturer Henkel, perfectly stated the importance of being available as a leader in a recent interview with McKinsey. He said: “I am convinced that a visible and accessible leadership style is most effective. My door is open; I encourage colleagues to call me directly. Our employees know who I am and what I’m doing. I eat with employees in our canteens whenever I am traveling or here at headquarters. You cannot run a global company from your desk. That’s why I spend around 170 days per year abroad, meeting employees—from top executives to young high-potential individuals—as well as customers and business partners.”

To close this two-parter, I’ll encourage you to remember that everything leaders do has a trickle-down effect. Be mindful of your actions and relationships, because your colleagues and your employees will emulate what you do. Successful organizations need inspiring leaders. Be the confident, self-aware and empathetic leader your employees want, and they will follow your example.

Effective Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

Join us for #GlobalMindsetChat, Thurs 9am PT / 12pm ET / 18:00 CET

This week’s topic: Effective & Productive Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

by Evelyn Eury @SageStrategist

Pitfalls of Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

Global meeting planning across cultures has many of the same pitfalls as traditional meeting organizing but is complicated by the cultural nuances of different offices, local customs and professional yet, culturally biased viewpoints. The savvy cross cultural meeting planner understands the cultural challenges and plans for them accordingly. In an August 2011 Gigaom.com article, Gary Swart pinpoints the first problem of planning and urges global leadership to make good decisions based upon analysis. He introduces a truth most managers already know: “managers spend between 30 and 80 percent of their time in meetings and more than 50 percent of them consider many meetings to be a ‘waste of time.’” (Swartz, August 28 2011) He asserts that effective meetings are rendered possible when planners first ensure that the event is vital to hold, carefully create an itinerary to be followed and that outputs should be evaluated post-haste in order to rate successfulness.

Challenges of Cross Cultural Virtual Meetings

Remote international meetings across cultures require all of these considerations but also necessitate cutting edge technology that allows real-time communication, the sharing of documents and data virtually, and ideally video to increase one’s ability to read other meeting participants non-verbal queues. Virtual meetings with international offices can also produce other hiccups: such as language barriers, divergence in availability due to working hours, varied holiday and leave schedules, and cultural nuance that impacts meeting participants level of comfort in speaking with other employees. New global, virtual meeting research shows that the number one barrier to global meetings across cultures are time-zones. Next comes lack of consistent moderation and cultural misunderstanding due to the inability of reading non-verbal cues.  In this case, meeting dates and time must be carefully selected in order to increase attendance, allow for translators where necessary and leadership must be aware of cultural variance in order to make all parties relaxed in communication style.

Questions for #GlobalMindsetChat, Thursday 9am PT / 12pm ET

Q1.  Should companies rely on internal translators to aid in meeting discussions? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q2.  Do you think it is more effective to work with a third party Translation Services vendor?  Any recommendations? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q3.  Do you think leadership should devise international office Holiday Schedules based solely on cultural sensitivity or also consider business needs? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q4. How does your company deal with time zone differences when scheduling meetings? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q5.  How important is cultural nuance when communicating remotely? Is it more or less important than true face-to-face meetings? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q6. If you fail to have cultural experts on staff that can speak to local sensitivities, how would you obtain intelligence to deal with this challenge? #GlobalMindsetChat

What is #GlobalMindsetChat?

Recent studies show that Global Mindset is the key competence leaders urgently look to develop in their workforce today.

Every week, Melissa Lamson hosts the varied and unique #GlobalMindsetChat on Twitter. The only one of its kind, #GlobalMindsetChat provides pertinent information on cross cultural, intercultural, and diversity topics that impact global business and the economy today.

How to join a twitterchat: www.Forbes.com