To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the SIXTH Post:
Managing Up: I found this sub chapter one of the more useful in the book because it explained how X’ers could truly survive and thrive, especially as they worked for Boomers. The author cautions X’ers not to assume that Boomers will have great insight into what you want, largely because X’ers have already proven to be a challenge to the values that Boomers hold dear, like corporate competitiveness or a work-comes-first philosophy. So, she offers a few simple but effective tactics to “manage up”:
1. Understand how your boss is being measured by his or her boss. This is like starting with the end in mind. Your relationship to your boss is singly the most important one you have, largely because s/he can terminate the relationship. So anything you do that adds value to your manager’s success will only help your relationship. P.S. Let them take credit—even if you have to bite your tongue…and many of you will have to do just that!
2. Clearly communicate what you want. Be precise and only tell your manager your desires after you’ve built up a bank account of goodwill from your good works…not before, or else your manager will take it as an insult. Also, know that managers are not mind readers. They’ll never know what you really want unless you tell them.
3. Communicate your success. Often X’ers hold back and believe it’s their boss’s job to notice such things. Think again. Most executives are just trying to survive the often-shark-infested waters of corporate hierarchy. If you want them to know about your successes—you MUST tell them if only to keep a list for performance rating time. You definitely want a longer list of positives than the inevitable negatives that come with just doing your job.
4. Make giving you what you want easy for your boss. You need to decide what your brand offering to your boss is exactly. If you want him/her to believe you’re a real deliverer of the goods—then make sure you’re relentless about delivering quality—on time and on budget. Consistent with that brand value you deliver, you can ask for a perk consistent with that, like more job flexibility.