I read an interesting article on LinkedIn recently by Dr Travis Bradberry titled Curious Things That Will Kill Your Career. One of the things listed was “Sucking up to your boss” and says “Some people suck up to their boss and call it managing up, but that isn’t the case at all“. I couldn’t agree more!
(A disclaimer before continuing – I do not profess to be an expert in this area, these opinions are purely based on my experience.)
While sucking up to the boss could kill your career, managing up is a skill that most professional people will need to master (in my opinion) to get to the top but not everyone realises the need, know how to go about it and/or really want to go there.
There is a fine line; spend too much time or not enough time and the result can be the same. You need to be able to do it well; some just don’t get it right and that can also be a career killer. So what do you have to do?
Here’s my two pointers to getting it right:
1. Think about what the boss needs/wants (what’s important for him/her); if you can be the person that is helping your boss achieve what they need/want then you are on the way
1. Trying to achieve the two points above to the detriment of your peers or your boss’ peers
2. Trying to “over-impress”; this isn’t about sucking up, this is about it being all about “me”
Getting to an executive level of a reasonable size company means that you are probably good at at least one of the two pointers to getting it right and usually that would be the first one, after all this about providing value. It’s the second one that is the hard one to get right because to do it properly requires a focus and discipline to make it part of what you do.
Managing up can be pretty simple really but also easy to get wrong. It’s also not a negative and guess what, I reckon if you get the balance right, your boss will like and appreciate it (probably stating the obvious there!).