Managing Up The Organization

It’s not uncommon after I have given a presentation for someone to say to me, “If only my manager had been here!  He (or she) really needed to hear this.”  I feel it’s a bit of a cop-out to blame your work problems on others.  It’s a safe way of not taking responsibility for your own circumstances and initiative to make things better.  The fact of the matter is that, during the span of your career, it’s likely that two out of every three managers will not be very good at the job of managing.  Are you going to let that keep you from getting what you want and need in your job?

If you’re going to succeed, you need to train your manager to give you what you need.  Fortunately, this is easier than it may sound—perhaps as easy as 1,2,3:

1. Give your manager what he/she needs to be successful. It’s going to be difficult to get your manager to make special efforts to help you if you don’t first show, through your actions, that you are worthy of such special effort.  Be responsive both in promptly doing what is asked of you, as well as volunteering to help on special projects and responsibilities.  Be proactive, try to anticipate your manager’s needs, and help to meet those needs.  Take a moment on occasion to ask what else you could be doing to help out.  Your attitude and behavior on this first step paves the way for the next step.

2. Tell your manager what you need from him/her to be successful in your job. After you have confirmed with your manager what is expected of you in your job, state what you’ll need from him/her for you to succeed.  This is where your knowledge of One Minute Management can be used to get the results you want.  Identify simple, clear, and specific One Minute Goals for each item you will be counting on for your manager to deliver, and then set realistic time frames for when those items can be done.

3. Follow up on 1 and 2. By doing what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it, you will build a reputation for being dependable and responsible.  By tactfully following up on items your manager agreed to do, you will build the expectation of reciprocity.

When your manager follows through on a commitment to you, use One Minute Praising to positively reinforce the behavior.  I am constantly amazed at how many employees feel that managers don’t need praisings!  After all—so goes the logic—that’s why managers are paid more.  It’s as if by making more money managers graduate to being appreciated less!  Let me let you in on a secret:  People are never too old or too high up in an organization to not want praisings—it’s human nature. Everyone likes others to notice things they worked hard to achieve. Give your manager a praising today and see for yourself!  And remember to praise progress—don’t wait until something is done perfectly before you say something.

If your manager does not follow through on a commitment to do something for you, you need some subtle form of a One Minute Reprimand.  Either reestablish the goal while checking on what you could do to move things along, or redirect your manager’s efforts toward a more feasible and realistic task.  Of course, you won’t have the position power to reprimand your manager, but the more you have built your personal power with him/her, the more likely a subtle reminder will work to get things back on track.

So don’t lament that your manager hasn’t created the perfect working environment for you—do something about it!  Take control of your work life, and learn how to get what you want from your manager in order to make things happen for you and the company.  People who learn the skills of managing up will soon be the ones who move up in today’s organizations.

Evaluating Partnerships

A lot of people ask me for advice about partnerships.  Many will tell me about a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that a friend or associate has shared with them and asked if they’d like to participate.  Often, the opportunity involves either investing a significant amount of time or money, or a dramatic shift into a new career path, or both.

My advice to such individuals is simple.  First, I often ask them if it is something they really want to do; that is, do they truly enjoy this activity to the extent that they might even consider doing it without pay?  For someone to be successful at something, they first need to truly enjoy that activity—otherwise, they are likely not to have enough persistence during times of difficulty.  To me, enjoying what you are doing is an acid test in business as well as life.  If you are having fun, it’s more likely that you will confuse work with play and that you will be successful at that activity.

Second, whenever considering getting into a partnership, you should always ask yourself the question: “Could either of us do this without the other person?”  (Have the other individual in the potential partnership ask the same question.)  If either of you answer “yes,” or even “maybe,” seriously reexamine the need for the partnership.             If you’re uncertain as to how necessary the other person is in a new venture at the very best of times—the beginning—you will certainly doubt and likely regret your mutual involvement down the line; perhaps sooner rather than later.  If there’s a good chance you could do the activity on your own, go for it!  Life is apt to be a lot simpler if you do.

In a partnership, both individuals involved need to bring something to the party—and each person needs to recognize and value the other person’s contribution.  If the importance of each person’s role isn’t clearly recognized upfront, it most assuredly will be valued even less later.  In the event of failure, individuals often are quick to blame the other person for shortcomings.  In the event of success, most people are apt to feel the success was mainly a result of their own efforts. These reactions are human nature.  A clear initial understanding, agreement, and belief in what each person is contributing to the success of a joint venture will go a long way toward minimizing exaggerated perceptions and expectations of effort and worth at a later date.

Third, a piece of common sense advice I truly believe regarding partnerships is that to be effective you need more than a 50-50 effort of both parties; you need 100-100 percent effort.  Both parties need to give the venture 100 percent.  Fifty percent effort is only half-hearted!  If you are no more excited about the opportunity at hand than to feel you are only responsible for 50 percent of the effort, the partnership is doomed from the start. I feel that 100 percent effort needs to be given 100 percent of the time by both parties in any partnership. Such an all-out commitment forces you to move ahead at full speed in making the venture a success.  It forces you to rely on yourself, not someone else, to make things happen.  It also affords you the ability to give the other person the benefit of the doubt when his or her effort, interest, or time spent seems to be less than ideal.

I have found that it is many times more difficult to break up a partnership—especially if you want to do so on good terms—than it is to start one.  By following these simple rules of thumb, you might save yourself some unpleasantness (and possibly a friend) in the process!

Season of Service

In San Diego we’re in the middle of a six-month “Season of Service” movement with businesses, civic agencies, and churches all pitching in with community volunteers to serve others. For years I’ve been dreaming about how we can make San Diego a servant leadership town – how in the near future people will come here and say, “What an amazing place to live—just look at the way government and business and education and neighborhoods interact – everyone seems to be out to serve each other and solve problems, not to be self serving.”

My larger dream is that leadership throughout the world will be composed of people who lead at a higher level and, in the process, serve first and lead second. That’s a really tall order, and I might sound like a dreamer. But read this wonderful quote from Harriet Tubman:

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.

Always remember, you have within you

the strength, the patience, and the passion

to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Why not? What do you want to do to change the world? Remember, you can do it by the moment-to-moment interactions with your family, your friends, your colleagues, and everyone you meet. What’s your dream for changing the world? Go ahead, be a dreamer!

See the Outcome!

I recently heard a wonderful speaker named David Cook, who is one of the great sports mental coaches in the country. He had a really interesting theory about goal setting that I thought was worth sharing with you. He said when you go to set up a goal, whatever it is, you should try to see that goal in your own mind being accomplished. You need to see the outcome. Then you need to feel what it will be like once you’ve accomplished that particular goal, and get that feeling in mind. And then you need to trust that you’re going to be able to get there. He said the power is in the seeing it and the feeling it, and then just trusting the thing. So if you have a goal, whether it’s a business or personal goal, try to actually see yourself accomplishing it and feel like you’re going to feel once you’ve accomplished it—the smile on your face, the applause from other people, whatever—and then just trust it and set your sights on that goal. I think that is really interesting.  In golf, he has a whole bunch of people who have “SFT” on their ball, so when they’re playing golf, they try to see every shot—what kind of shot are they going to hit, where is it going to go, how high and all—then get up and feel it, and then just trust the process. He said it really is amazing how it works on all kinds of goals. I was thinking about the great athletes competing in the Olympics—the ones who win have seen themselves crossing the finish line and accomplishing their goal ahead of time. Then they make their actions consistent with what they are seeing and feeling. I think it’s a really fascinating process:  See it – Feel it – Trust it. Isn’t that interesting? Try it on one of your goals today.