Years ago, my grandfather, Robert Marsh (then founder and president of American Telecast Corporation), gave his team some great advice for managing sales and self-promotion. He reminded them that yes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." But it is also "the spouting whale who gets harpooned." His success was built on the concept of staying innovative yet never failing to remain humble.
This can be a fine line to walk when you're pushing for change in your organization. Getting things done is difficult when your boss doesn't share your priorities. Instead of getting harpooned for speaking out, here are some tips for managing your manager.
Here's how to gain respect and credit for your hard work from a manager who doesn't see things as you do.
Managing Your Manager
Let's talk perspective. Your manager's priorities will naturally be different than yours. Management views things from a ten-thousand-foot view while you're hearing "squeaky wheels" right in front of you. Your manager may oversee multiple departments, and you're only managing one. You may want the manager's 100% attention, but your problems may only represent 5% of what is on the radar.
I use the term "managing the manager" to define how to build a mutual level of trust and present your case. With these tips, you'll help set the priorities and become an indispensable member of the team.
Tips for Making Your Priorities the Boss's Priorities
Here are some tips for managing your manager and getting your priorities to the top of the pile:
- Filter out the unimportant stuff and only bring the most important things to your boss's attention. Unless you are dealing with a micromanager who wants to see everything, most managers will let you make decisions within certain parameters. Your manager will appreciate that you bring only important things up to them.
- Respect their time. Managing your manager effectively means getting face time regularly with a weekly set time or a periodic appointment. This allows you to discuss things as they're happening.
- Summarize and synthesize the information in writing, visual, or oral form before your meeting. Prioritize what you expect to get out of the meeting (a decision, an opinion, etc.). Doing all this will get the results you need and make the best use of your time with the boss.
- Try to couch bad news with good news. If you only share bad news, your boss will likely begin avoiding you. Who wants to hear only bad news all the time?
- Present solutions when presenting a problem. Be prepared to get your manager's input as well.
- Build your boss's understanding of your team's current environment. Educate without overwhelming with too much information.
- Educate yourself on company initiatives. If the solution you're looking for aligns with your manager's initiatives, you're more likely to get them on board.
Getting Credit for Your Work
Teamwork sometimes translates to your ideas becoming your boss's ideas. Here are a few ideas to get around this problem:
- Get proper credit for your ideas and work by presenting them to the team and your manager.
- Create and put your name on any documentation around your ideas or projects.
- Become the thought leader on your idea or project. Go deep into education around the project and be prepared for any questions about it.
- Share credit with your team. If you've worked together as a group, remember to share in the success and trials of putting it together.
- And lastly, if your boss attempts to take credit, use the phrase, "I'm glad we agree!"
Don't shy away from thinking outside of the box at work. Just remember that your manager may not have the same perspective or unique ideas as you. These tips will help you gain your boss's respect and claim credit for your hard work.