Let's be quite clear that managing up does not mean manipulating your boss. Rather, it is communicating in a fashion that elicits her/his support for the initiatives that you have as a leader. This exercise is critical if you are going to maximize your potential. Therefore I submit the following suggestions to get the most out of your efforts.
- Develop a strong track record of success; one that is independent of issues that have required prior approval from your boss. Put more succinctly, '...walk the walk before you talk the talk...' Meeting or exceeding budget; accurately forecasting results; completing specific assignments in a timely manner; all these successes demonstrate that your are competent, dependable, reliable and trustworthy. Thus, when you are managing up, you can expect that there will already be an implied level of comfort with your recommendations that will be reflected in the approval of the request that you are putting forward.
- Make it easy for your boss to make a favourable decision. Be thorough, but concise, in laying out your request and the reasons behind it. Anticipate questions and have the answers already embodied in your presentation. The more that you can demonstrate that you have considered all the pro's and con's, the more the decision comes down to a simple 'yes' or 'no'. A comprehensive presentation usually wins the day.
- Know when to stop. A great line from the movie 'Jerry Maguire' stated '...you had me at hello...' Too often you talk yourself right out of an approval simply because you failed to listen; you were too intent on making your case. Once the boss gives their approval, everything that you continue to offer is vainglorious. Shut up and leave. You got what you came for!
- The best surprise is no surprise. Provide your boss regular updates, even if they are not specifically requested. This is even more important if you are not achieving the results that you proposed. Failures happen but the last thing that a boss wants is to be blindsided so at the first evidence of problems, engage them in the process. Remember that they often have as much invested in the situation as you do so they are anxious to work towards your success or to prepare to catch you as you fall.
- Under promise; over deliver. Any time you are promoting a new initiative it is better to stretch but not to over-reach. You want to be known as one whose word is reliable. Over-reaching, but achieving only part of the time, produces too much drama. Your boss in generally a lot more comfortable coping with success rather than explaining failures. Your job is to make them look good so make your proposals achievable.
Learn to Manage up . It becomes an important step in your career ladder.