Managing yourself and those under you already is a tall order, so imagine asking employees also to "manage up." As challenging as it is, one management author says training your workforce to do just that is a key to organizational success. It's a strategy that will lead to a more cohesive company, says Quint Studer, CEO of Studer Group and author of "Straight A Leadership: Alignment, Action, Accountability." When you don't manage up, you inadvertently contribute to what Studer calls a "we/they culture." Here are his top tips for setting your organization on the right leadership path:
- Let employees know the benefit of writing bosses a thank you note. "Be specific about what you appreciate because it will align your boss' behavior to your own and help you control your own destiny," says Studer. For example, if you say 'Debbie, I really appreciate you always make time for me because I find this to be so important,' what do you think will happen the next time you see Debbie? She will make time for you.
- Encourage employees to give their boss information that helps him or her connect with staff in a sincere way. In his book, "Hardwiring Excellence," Studer gives an example of a staff member telling him about another employee whose sister-in-law had died. This gave him the opportunity to offer the bereaved employee his condolences.
- Manage up your staff. Managing up employees is more than a nice thing to do, says Studer. It's a practical tool for reinforcing specific behaviors. "Recognized behavior gets repeated," Studer points out. "When all managers start managing up their direct reports on a regular basis, soon you have a whole company full of people making a point to replicate the behavior that got them recognized."
- Manage up your organization. "People need to feel good about the company they work for," says Studer. "No one can achieve excellence—which means having a sense of purpose, doing worthwhile work, and making a difference—if they're in an environment where people denigrate the company or its products. Look for every opportunity to manage up your organization."
- Never down talk other departments. This is another manifestation of we/they syndrome, says Studer. If you're in marketing, for example, don't make disparaging remarks, even jokingly, about shortsighted "bean counters" in accounting.
- Teach employees to promote your brand to customers, family, and friends. "If you make Fords for a living, don't drive a Chevrolet," Studer says. "It sends an unfavorable message."
- Train your workforce to recognize opportunities to manage up. "There are plenty of opportunities to manage up," Studer emphasizes. "Do it when things are going well, when you have good news to share, or when you need direction on how to achieve specific goals. When you look for ways to focus on the positive, you will find them. And they will ripple outward, creating more opportunities."
What guidance do you give employees on helping their boss become a better manager? What do employees and their supervisors need to be taught about mutual managing? Join the discussion on Training Day
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