Having been in the recruitment industry for a few years now (not specifying how many because it makes me feel old!) I have been able to sit back and watch many people progress up the leadership ladder. Some more successfully than others. There can be many factors impacting on success of course, but in many instances I have seen the inability to recognize the need to manage up, lead to failure.
Managing up can sometimes bring connotations of having to “kiss arse” – excuse the language, and I would argue that if this is what you interpret as managing up you are missing a key opportunity. Many leaders can be overly consumed with managing down and depending on the profile of your team sometimes this is necessary – but you need to ensure this isn’t a long-term strategy.
You need to focus attention on managing yourself – your career, your education, your professional portfolio to ensure you remain relevant and challenged. You of course will have an element of managing down through delegation and KPI’s to ensure deliverables are met.
But – how to manage up? Be clear on who above you this could include and then determine how often and how you will need to feedback to each person. In person communication is an effective way to build rapport and trust followed by putting things in writing to protect each other.
A good executive should adopt a no surprises approach in order to have the back of the people they report to and should also be able to determine what is communicated and what is not to prevent information overload. No Board wants hundreds of pages to read through, so your ability to grasp and communicate the key issues and expand if needed, is critical.
By managing up you increase your visibility and intel because you should be privy to strategic issues and be on the front foot to ask for the opportunity to work on key projects. You will better anticipate future challenges and therefore be able to better position your team to respond. Knowledge and networks are the power base of any ambitious executive but like anything require constant work and attention!
Richard Suhr from EY was the key speaker at a breakfast meeting I recently attended and he posed the above question. I am a sucker for a conspiracy theory and his question really resonated with me.
The talk was at a health industry function and it was fascinating to hear his take on the subject in relation to the challenges and opportunities in the sector. As with most, if not all industry sectors digital disruption has/will target the peripheral services that are the most profitable. The core business functions of health such as heart surgery will probably not come under the control of Uber but why wouldn’t the supply chain?
Much has already changed in this sector and there is much more to come. Who has a family GP nowadays? People travel overseas for surgical procedures. Where is the first place you go to if you have a health query (my wife would say google)? Do you have a watch that measures your heart rate, steps, sleep patterns, distances covered, it might even tell the time? Do you have an app that measures your calorie intake for the day as well as your weight loss/gain? Do you do your weekly food shop online? Do you have an app that tells you how to workout? etc. etc. etc.
As an individual how will all this information that is held in the public cloud affect you in the future? (It could be much more important than keeping that embarrassing photo from going viral.) Will your future life insurance premium be set by how much you weigh, exercise and consume and where will this information come from? Facebook probably! Will you be charged more by your health fund if you eat too much or do too little exercise?
A major challenge for the health sector moving forward is deciding how they are going to be connected to patients. There is a growing need for all areas of business to offer what the user wants and a growing expectation to move away from purely informing to assisting. Historically the health sector has been very good at informing, are they as good at assisting? Will your doctor or surgeon be available 24/7 on social media? How will regulation and governance evolve? What will a hospital of the future look like? Will they share/sell on your information like other organisations do?
Which all brings us back to the original question……..Who will be your trusted advisor to hold your confidential medical records, facebook or the Government? I think maybe facebook, or more probably an organisation that we haven’t even heard of yet.
I recently read an article that resonated, on the 5 types of personalities that you will find in every workplace and couldn’t resist sharing it with my networks. While each working environment can differ greatly according to its industry, scale and company culture, you are still bound to come across these personalities within the workplace.
Learning how to spot these people and work with them will help you build a stronger working relationship and support your own professional development.
The office gossip: Now this may be a stereotype, however there’s usually one lingering in the workplace – just waiting to pass on the latest gossip and titbits to colleagues. How do you get around this? Build a rapport by talking about the latest news and celeb gossip but avoid engaging in negative talk about other staff or even the company in general. Engaging with the office gossip can sometimes come back to bite you, so keep it upbeat, positive and about non-work related matters.
The noise-cancelling headphone wearer: Does your colleague insist on wearing their headphone or play rather loud music for the duration of the day? This personality can sometimes be tricky to work with, at first it may seem that they are disengaging from their co-workers, but don’t take it to heart. Studies show, depending on the individual, listening to music can increase a workers productivity. If you need to ask them a question, a simple wave or smile will get their attention- alternatively if they are ‘’in the zone’’ send them a quick email.
The team cheerleader: If your colleague’s energy level is through the roof before you’ve had your first coffee for the day and they seem to thrive on praising the good work of others – you’re working with a cheerleader. Don’t be suspicious of cheerleaders, appreciate that they have the best intentions, and play a vital role in boosting team morale. Embrace their positivity and make an effort to sing their praises once in a while in return.
The negative nancy: The polar opposite to cheerleaders, a negative nancy is generally the person in the workplace who rebuts the ideas of others, is reluctant to try new things and gravitates towards explaining why something won’t work. Don’t write these people off as being a downer, and understand that they are trying not to take the wind out of their co-workers’ sails. They often like to think of themselves as being pragmatic and realistic, so consider their opinions as much as anyone else’s to rally them, suggest you give that new thing a try and see how it goes – if it doesn’t work out they can always say they told you so.
The overachiever: You can spot overachievers a mile away!! They’re the busy bee that has a stack of projects on their desk, is always rushing off to the next meeting, insists on arriving early and staying late and always puts their hand up to volunteer for new work. While overachievers can sometimes seem to be exhausting to the uninitiated, these ambitious colleagues thrive on success. Look at them for guidance on managing your workload and bringing your A-Game.
Understanding how each of these personalities operates is key to managing a productive team.