During my coaching sessions, I’m often asked for strategies for dealing with a supervisor, commonly known as “managing up.” Here are some suggestions that I share:
- Provide them with soundbites. A full report is nice and often necessary, but sharing the positive or interesting soundbite that they can use in other settings may prove to be more helpful.
- Give them time to think before you expect an answer. I’m a big fan of putting things in writing (an email or 1-page proposal) to help you clarify your thinking and make it easier for your boss to reflect and share.
- Serve as a thoughtful sounding board, not a “yes person.” Hopefully, you have developed the type of relationship with your supervisor where you can provide respectful but candid feedback to their ideas. They need you to share your insights and perspective more than they need total agreement.
- Take things off their plate. This can be accomplished by completing tasks and preparing work that is in final form. The less they have to re-do or edit what you submit, the more helpful you are to them Clarify expectations and deliverables up front so you can do things as they would have them done.
- Solve problems as best you can before involving them. Come with researched solutions, rather than just outlining the issue.
The most successful employees are those who make their bosses look good. The more you can save them time and help them look good to their boss, the happier everyone will be.