You may excel at cultivating relationships with your colleagues, but how well do you manage your boss? Are you one of the many who confuse managing up with mere manipulation.
In my initial post I pointed out that managing up is all about recognizing your mutual dependence. What that means is that your boss needs your support and cooperation, and you need your boss's links to the rest of the organization and to critical resources.
First, what are your boss's wants and needs? Effective bosses will lay out their work goals and objectives on a regular basis. Make sure that you understand them clearly and that you demonstrate that they're important to you in your performance. How much information your boss needs about what you're doing depends on her style, her situation and her confidence in you. In the final analysis, the burden falls on you to find out what the boss's expectations are. So you can and should check in to make certain she's getting the information from you that she needs. If you passively assume that you know what your boss expects, you're in for trouble. Some spell out their expectations in detail, but most do not. As your boss gains confidence in you, she'll update you on the what, but leave the how of execution to your own decisionmaking.
FYI: Contrary to much conventional thinking, information normally flows up. If you're not certain about your boss's objectives, don't understand some operating procedures or need help to execute, you're responsible to get that information to your boss.
Second, what are your own wants and needs? In this talent age, you'll want to be developing your career, staying on path, and getting new experiences. If you're fortunate, your boss will work with you without your asking for help. The better managers today understand that they're responsible primarily for talent development and strategy execution. Just the same, you'll want to schedule those career conversations periodically. Managing your boss is a two-way street.
Since most bosses today are graded on talent development and management, even in small companies, it's unusual to find a find a boss thinking only that the subordinate wants to replace her. That's the stock of movies and TV, but rare in the work world.
Next time we'll talk about work style issues between you and your boss. Stay tuned.
What questions thus far?