What does 'Managing Up' mean and why you should do it?
As an administrator if you understand the dynamics around you and if you have good insight into your boss’ nature and the nature of those you work with, you can successfully manage up and across.
So what does managing up mean?
Managing up means you are able to have an influence on someone who is senior to you.
And what does managing across mean?
Managing across means you are able to influence those who are not in your reporting line either up or down but whose roles have a connection to your own.
Why would you want to manage up and across?
You have a unique perspective at the lower levels than your manager might have. You have your ‘ear to the ground’ so to speak and you have a feeling for what people are thinking and feeling on the ground whether that be your company’s customers or your fellow colleagues. Your input is valuable. Not offering your perspective is missing an opportunity to add value to your organisation.
Perhaps equally important, is you miss the opportunity to add a layer to your professional brand that you are someone with insight. What’s important too is that you find the appropriate opportunity to share your insights.
In practical terms – how would you manage up?
Okay, so let’s take a really simple example. Your manager is planning to have a team building / planning meeting for you and your colleagues. The particular activity that she is planning is something that you don’t think the majority of your colleagues would enjoy doing.
What are the dos and do nots in this situation?
Just two things primarily:
DO NOT outright reject your Manager’s suggestion
DO diplomatically provide suggestions for alternative activities e.g. ‘That’s an interesting idea, but we have a number of introverts in the team and I wonder if any of the following activities might cater to a range of personalities?
It’s the subject of another article, but in the workplace try to be a solutions focussed person. You will no doubt notice that the majority of your colleagues tend to criticise without providing alternatives. Don’t be one of those people. To properly manage up or across you need to come up with other ideas if you want to influence others.
In practical terms – how would you manage across?
Here’s another really simple example. You are waiting on the completion of work from a colleague in a different team to do their part, before you can progress. You can see that any delay to delivery of that piece from that person, will affect your ability to meet your own deadlines. This can be a really challenging situation for anyone in the workplace because it involves putting at least a level of pressure on someone outside of your direct team.
This is where the quality of your collegial relationships is important. We mentioned in a different article that you don’t have to like your colleagues to work with them. You should however respect them, and make cooperative and positive interactions a priority.
When you walk into a new job one of your primary tasks should be to scan the landscape of your office and understand who it is that has an impact on your role. It might sound political – and indeed it is. Ask yourself - who might you need to ask to do something to assist you to do your role? Then make sure you develop a collaborative relationship with that person. That relationship will be KEY to that person delivering their work on time to allow you to deliver your own. It is fundamental to the principle of managing across in the workplace.
Dotpointz - managing up and across:
To manage up propose ideas and alternatives
To manage across – work on your collaborative relationships which will in turn increase your chances of positively influencing others
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