December 24, 2014
Some of managing up involves coaching. While coaching is typically given from manager to employee, the reverse can occur. Just as you strive to manage expectations, you can strive to manage feedback. Bosses deserve feedback from employees too. Many bosses may not realize this, but a self-motivated, leadership-oriented employee can advise them. The first rule in giving feedback is trust. Managers must make it safe for their employees; that is, they cannot exact repercussions for telling the truth. This is easier said than done, but if you have built a level of trust with your boss, and you do this by doing your job and performing well, you have earned the right to give feedback.
Feedback is an essential first step in coaching. Your honesty will be invaluable. So many leaders complain that they do not know what is going on in their organization because people do not tell them. Well, the blame lies partly with the leader for not asking, but it also is up to employees to be forthcoming. Upward coaching is seldom formal; it is usually in the form of a conversation. Here are some things to observe:
Coaching your boss is a leadership behavior. It demonstrates that you believe in yourself and are motivated to make a positive difference. Such coaching emerges from your relationship with the boss that is founded upon performance. You cannot coach if you do not deliver. Therefore, the key to managing upward is understanding the boss, followed by action. Get to know what needs doing, and then do it, and make yourself available to do more. Do not become overextended. Pick your spots; that is, volunteer for activities that make a positive difference and add value to the enterprise. This means you must ration your time and energy. This, too, is a good thing; it emerges from your personal discipline and your motivation to excel.
© 2010 John Baldoni. Excerpted by permission of the publisher, from 12 Steps to Power Presence: How to Assert Your Authority to Lead by John Baldoni. Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association (www.amacombooks.org).