Monday, April 13, 2009

Managing Up - a boss, a Board member, any authority figure - even co-workers!

Click the title of this post for a great article on how the author's 4 year old daughter provides examples of how to manage up.

I'm especially impressed because the 4 year old is not manipulating her mother, she's simply doing what works to get the results she wants. She's paid attention and is using information strategically to improve her chances for success. I also note that she has multiple desirable outcomes, one of which is to maintain harmony with her mother. Perhaps that's the most important one.

Sometimes I suggest that people behave strategically at work to improve their relationships with bosses and co-workers, and my listener objects because it feels inauthentic and manipulative.

I don't buy that interpretation. If you're an unethical person, you won't be concerned about that in the first place. I think it's simply hard to change one's behavior. It's easier to object on so-called moral grounds than to actually observe oneself and do something different.

When you adjust your own behavior, you are exercising control over yourself. You still have no control over the other person's behavior or attitude. My experience is that if I'm trying to get something over on the other person that doesn't make good sense, then all my sweetness and light will come to naught. My nice attitude, delivery and behavior is more likely to get me a hearing and to result in cordiality all around in the event of a "no." That's it, though. It won't necessarily get me what I want.

Me, I'm always happy when things end cordially. I'd rather have that outcome than hard feelings, or a situation where I may say or do things I'm ashamed of later. If managing my own behavior can achieve that outcome, then I will do what it takes to achieve harmony.

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