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Monday, December 14, 2009

Managing Up

Tascha is a manager in a small town near St. Louis. If you've read any other posts about her, you've read where she has had to deal with team issues and what she can do to help her team work in a positive environment.

Now, Tascha needs to use her skills to help develop the relationship with her boss. You see, Tascha thinks her boss, Jim, is kind of a manipulating jerk (not my words...hers) who is exhibits double standards, plays favorites, etc. (wow, he does sound like a prince, doesn't he?). She doesn't like Jim and feels like the relationship isn't very positive. Of course, Tascha also knows there's no law against being a jerk (Praise the Lord for that).

It doesn't seem that Jim's too concerned about their relationship, either. She's not sure if he doesn't care, doesn't have time, doesn't like her, doesn't really know how to build the relationship, or a combination of these. Still, Tascha knows it takes Two to Tango and has felt empowered from the success she's had with her team so she's going to give their relationship a try. She also knows that Jim isn't going anywhere; therefore, unless Tascha is willing to look for another job right now, she wants things to improve.

What should Tascha do to help "manage up" regarding her relationship with Jim? You know, it's not really that different from relationship-building with any other individual (just maybe a little more least at first):
  1. Empathy: Sometimes it's easier to feel empathy with peers or team members than with the boss. After all, they get the big bucks and don't have any trouble letting "you know what" roll downhill. However, remember the adage, "it's lonely at the top". No truer words were ever spoken. Jim might really need someone who has some understanding for the stresses he's going through.
  2. Understand the WIIFM: Tascha needs to know the boss' WIIFM (What's in it for me)? Of course, it's money and power, she thinks. Or is it? What's important to Jim personally and professionally?
  3. Success: How does Jim measure success and how can Tascha help Jim be successful? Tascha is afraid of being used and abused by the which I reply, "you mean, like you use and abuse your folks?" Come on, every team member at every level of an organization has the responsibility to help the boss look good, just like every boss has the responsibility of taking care of the team.
  4. Reach out: Yes, like I mentioned above, Jim is the boss so it's really his responsibility to build a relationship with Tascha. That's probably not going to happen. Therefore, Tascha needs to make the first move by giving Jim the benefit of the doubt.
If Tascha is willing to try the suggestions above, she may find out that Jim is the rat fink she always thought he was. On the other hand, once she makes an investment in the relationship, she may find that Jim, for all his faults, is OK on several levels.

What say you? Should Tascha just look for another job or should she try to help build and manage her relationship with Jim? What other suggestions might you have for Tascha?

NEXT POST: Tascha works on building a team with her fellow managers.