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433: How to Start Managing Up, with Tom Henschel


Art What to say and the places to avoid when you're attempting to manage up this is coaching for leaders episode four hundred thirty three so you'd like to change your bosses perception of you perhaps maybe even their behavior on this episode Tom Henschel Returns to discuss were Oh coaching up in the opening and before we go further and there's a lot we we both could say about this perhaps we should start with making the distinction between these two of Managing Up and coaching up. When you think about those terms what's different it's always a pleasure thanks well managing up so this is a big topic and I mentioned the phrase also and today a little bit more from the I don't know Tom I'm trying to think of a better word than normal and there's no such thing as a normal conversation but or situation but of a Basu looking for something to be different and so managing up to me is really about me and my opportunities coaching is about creating change there's a lot there for folks who are in a situation and if you are in the situation boy our heart goes out to you of working with someone who's well let's just say field of workplace communication and self presentation and has helped thousands of leaders achieve excellence through his work as an executive coach and through his top rated podcast I think about managing up I think about my opportunity to influence how my boss perceives me it's my opportunity to me nations of friends and family members who have navigated into these waters with bosses the question has arisen or how do I manage the show helps you discover leadership wisdom through insightful conversations one of the conversations that comes up a lot in my conversations with the well today we're going to dive in on that with one of our longtime guests a dear friend of mine and an expert Tom Henschel I'm so glad to welcome Tom back to many of you follow as well the look and sound of leadership it is my favorite podcast on leadership and I never miss an episode Tom I am so glad to have you back the show he is from essential communications Tom has been working for many years to groom senior leaders and executive teams he is an internationally recognized expert in the I love that distinction and we should also probably preface this by and you and I are conscious of the fact that not every boss is in a healthy place and ready for either of these conversations we have aired an episode before called how to handle a boss who's a jerk so manage the perception my boss has me when I think coaching up I think than I want some change in the relationship I'm is not thinking proactively about the relationship and about leadership is perhaps you are and that is a situation that I think a lot of us have been working to look at this conversation offers is the topic of managing up in fact it's come up a lot more in the recent past as I've been having conversations both professionally and even a few scituate fleet and when if it all should I coach up and when my bosses looking to me for some direction how do I handle that situation ends well and generally is doing some of the general leadership management things well how would you approach that conversation I'm with you yeah well I think that ooh from Orange County California this is coaching for leaders and I'm your host Dave Stanhope leaders are born they're made in this week the techniques the thoughts that we're going to have today apply to kind of your average run of the mill relationship with the boss it's not about those situations where it's because the boss is out of out of control or not well self-managed so we're not talking about that we're talking about your average situation one of the things I know you say often in your conversations with clients is that your boss is your biggest customer tell me more your boss is your biggest customer if if you think of it that way does that change what you want just from the outset this goes to the they want something different or they're resistant or they're pushing back against something and I have been saying this phrase to people for years is idea for example saying yes to your boss you know a lot of people fight with their bosses you know the boss wants something Autho boy I do I say that all the time so when I talk to people as an executive coach and I listen to them talk about their boss a lot of times I'll here it's not an ongoing like why are you arguing with your boss your boss is your biggest customer I think just starting from that can often change a lot wow that wasn't necessarily the first thing I expected to hear saying yes and and in some ways that's a little different than managing upright of managing perceptions of how the to present to the senior leadership and they wanted as a powerpoint with graphics only and you know we need it with bullet points no we need it with an append ears or managing your direct reports managing up so yeah your bosses your because customer keep that in mind I know there's some people listening who are hearing that thinking out of how you think about what you're really doing in that relationship the relationship is not equal it's not so you are quote managing up we're not managing us and I want you to see me a particular way isn't it really smart me to treat you like my customer aren't you GonNa like working with Oh you want your boss to see you so where's the difference there as far as managing the perception but also freeness situation like okay this is my customer emails how I show up to your meetings how I respond to requests from you aren't you going to have a better perception of me a more beneficial perception of me if I me more if I don't ever have to say this to you but if my mindset is your my biggest customer and I treat you that way every day in terms of how I respond not sometimes thinking thoughtfully of having a different conversation or pushing back a little bit on a particular issue when they need to so again they they have a hard time with any kind of change of what the boss has suggested or has asked them to do if if you're my boss and I want you to see me a certain way I also want to help you understand how I think about my work now you may I think it is important that I tell you how I think about things one of the phrases that I ask people to think about is I think different we disagree with me and that's okay I work for you and I'm willing to adapt and take on your perceptions but about that those words I think differently about that it's not argumentative and it's not saying your boss is wrong it's an opportunity to have a real you to be able to articulate here's how I think about that because you by the way tend to be closer to the work right so your perspective is when that boss may be this may be bleeds into a little bit of when they're not in that healthier place but they find themselves jumping around a lot and just kind of jumping to all yeses I'm going to say yes at least anything reasonable that comes across my desk wow that's fascinating dave because I think it's actually a core issue if you're my owning conversation for both of you now your boss may not like oh you're thinking about that in which case I do think your boss may get the final word and that's just life but for you treat you like my boss so I actually think it's a core issue and not in conflict at all Interesting yeah I I think that the thing that I see people running into one about now it may not fit in with the bigger mosaic that your boss has and you cannot see how your boss is viewing the world so you may need to adapt but apiece that a lot of people are fearful of and then on version doesn't happen that's my sense of talking to some of our cat right that I'm going to introduce an idea I don't have to be right because there is no right these are just opinions but if I'm the guy that's closest to the work i WanNa tell you what I see and then you can you tell me that it doesn't fit your needs that's fine but I certainly want to speak up and by the way again thank you do yourself an enormous service and self promotion in an appropriate way by saying that's not how I think of it it doesn't take an argumentative stance like your wrong but he also has no problem saying you know this is why I would take a different choice he speaks remember just thinking about somebody situations that have come across my radar screen recently in some of the questions we've received that there's hesitation there and that's why I love that phrase of I love the idea that you as my boss you and I are going to have a conversation where I get to say oh you know that's not how I think about it let me tell you how I think about it and I think that that's the think differently about that it's sunny right or wrong it's eight like you said a learning conversation right listen this goes to the concept of disagree agreeably walking into a meeting he chewed levels below the CEO he said I have no problem walking in to a meeting with the CEO and just saying that's not how we do it right you too are they going to pick the person who's timid and won't speak up or are they going to pick the person who is not fearful in his willing to say I think differently about that I is to power and the CEO values that So I again I think you need to be careful about who your boss is and attention but really if your boss is GonNa look for somebody for the next promotion if your boss is GonNa look for somebody to elevate give a prime opportunity I speak truth to power but I do it with a lot of emotion and it's about me and it's about what I want and it seems like right right well that's a carnegie thing too right yeah it is it is evidence yeah right so speaking truth to power after I'm passionate about my work which I go good I'm glad it's important to you but when you are managing up a lot of times the passion like yesterday's weather talk about it like last week's traffic report it's just data has in emotion can get in the way of someone understanding your point or receiving it clearly though I often say talk about it I think that my ability to be dispassionate rational persuasive made perceived differently and to affect change within the organization it really should come down to in most cases there's a business case there's a numbers case to make war whatever it is I'm trying to position or advocate for and speaking truth to power in a way that is helpful to the organization and so we're doing this because in fact managing effectively creates more opportunities in my own career it creates a longer runway for me well professionally with clients but also a few situations of people in my personal life of friends and colleagues who have had some version how many of those situations the person has not responded in any significant way to that request a whore with anything substantial and I find that really curious I have opportunities the list for let's bring Tom Along on that important meeting with a client I mean whatever it is let's put Tom in front of the CEO. Dan I I've got a guy right now who's in a just a really difficult situation he's a senior leader their their companies going through huge chains they were bought by private equity Jn of their boss indicating a look to them for some direction or a recommendation. Doing something and it's really interesting to me Tom you call it evidence I think it's very different than it doesn't mean that it's not important to you but you're not trying to use emotion as persuasive tool where senior leadership the CEO whoever is already thinking about the problem most likely it just it just as an entry point for a lot more credibility speaking of runway one of the reasons that generated this conversation I alluded to in the opening is I've had half a dozen situations both about how my boss precedes me right what I ultimately want is my boss to have me at the top of the list list for promotions starting there with the numbers and the business case and coming with a I've thought this through here's a solution here's a path forward that is relevant to as if the power is wrong you don't understand and you know having real kind of passionate and again I know a lot of people who take pride in there because if it's true that you're going to adopt the belief that my boss my biggest customer when your boss Asks For something you do it first or at least you get some people land there to of overshooting and I know one of the things you've you find yourself coaching people on is taking out the emotion that the I think when you're managing up emotion is rarely persuasive rarely yeah and if you are trying to be work your boss wants done do it because the big idea here is take work off your bosses plate over ultimate us I'm not saying you shouldn't ask questions and get clarification but you know you've got that request that is is waiting for their boss their board their CEO to lead in that particular area and they haven't really come to the table do you think about timing around that listen I would love to think that by this point in this episode your audience's Aghast at that story understand what that meant and to me is goes back to the first thing I talked about today right is I want you my boss I want you to know how I think about my work I think that's great and it's funny because what I answer back in my head as I hear you talking about that is yes and because I think ultimately it's and I think there's a third piece to that too you hit on the two big ones the timid nece and then the speaking truth power in the inappropriate way and then there's the earn their having to lay people off their change the business and what he has a great deal of pride in speaking truth to power he said I have no problem over and over there's a related phrase to this which is don't bring a problem bring solution it took me a long time to really it's unlikely my Boston is going to give me the next opportunity so I'm with you that I think there's a business case and that's great but I just want to keep going back to why are we doing this awesome and more valuable asset in my bosses toolkit but if I'm gonNA come in and get all riled up and argue emotionally to my boss well I did this customer I'm going to take us to another kind of Major Bible point if you will and by Bible point I mean like one of the things that I I've had a few moments in the last few months where I've had these situations I'm like I'm like wow green light like your boss asked you for some input on this or asked you to write up something produced by innovate learning maximizing human potential readings on what you think you would do it is interesting now seen a few times where folks haven't either responded at all or his astonishing that people get requests from their boss and they kind of let it sit it's like wow that's just amazing to me not if your boss is your it should be engraved in your thinking about this which is one way that you can evaluate how you are managing up is argue putting words on your buses played or taking off your bosses plate if your boss has asked you for something you don't even need to know why well it would be helpful sometimes to know the context of what's the Oh you've done the diagnosis you also need to say and here's at least one idea I have about yeah so this idea of putting work on very in a very limited way kind of still waiting for direction and I'm thinking about that in the context of what you said of your bosses your biggest customer and work if I'm going to bring you a problem like oh my gosh I just found out something it's it's creating a problem in our work process or it's creating an outcome we don't want with a client clarify what's the deadline like Wendy need by end of business Monday and then you make sure it's there in the morning on Monday and you exceed expectations so it's you know to come to the boss and I just want to say I hear this over and over where I've identified something and think that's what I get a feather for I I'm GonNa get recognized whole problem but certainly come and say here's the next step you know I'm GonNa work with Janet on this and we're GonNa get you a report by next Friday or whatever it is but or whatever if I'm going to bring you that problem I also need to tell you my gut feeling about what a good course of action would be now I don't have to solve the on your bosses played if I come to you with a problem I've just given you work to do oh that's not a good thing I'm really glad you mentioned this because for having recognized the problem and it's like no this is not about medicine where you diagnose something and then handed off to the specialist you're the specialists so I don't think that it's probably new information to most people and they've heard this before you know don't come to the table with a problem come to the table with the solution or to go back to the mentioned before there's a waiting for someone else to move on it and I really see that as a distinction between right but I also find this to be true when talking to people is it is interesting in practice how often that doesn't happen there are often taught to not take action because often their actions are well intended but misguided and they're often spinning their wheels with rising young women and there I would say in their thirties so they're often in a leadership role for the first time they have smaller what I imagined was people in your audience listening to that thinking wouldn't they like someone like that on their team was proactive but that I've contributed something of significance to begin the conversation around how we were solved this problem right you know as you were talking David be helpful here yeah I was thinking about that today and thinking about the fear that a lot of us have in tier point I think this is situation at ask yourself the next step which is how would I solve this or how do I wanna contribute right what something I can do to the're for a lot of us is unfounded I will be curious to hear how for example people in the academy think about that I do a lot of coaching Are Wasting time and their senior leadership says wait wait wait you actually don't know the job well enough don't move forward and I think that's not in a probe have the privilege to influence is this distinction between I see a problem and I may be kind of waiting for what I'm asked to I put on your plate so yeah I again if people can get this idea and I do think by the way I think this is a learned skill which is to look at it go it's not something we've been trained in a lot of our schools and institutions of higher education to jump in and to try new things at least that wasn't the Enviro action oriented who's engaged and thoughtful and doesn't need a lot of direction because by the way if I'm waiting for you to direct me all the time that's more work than Brad right but when it comes time to manage your boss hard of what even if you're that person that you know in your thirties person in a leadership leadership teams are just so excited to see someone who's moving proactively and doing something to address the situation that just seems like that on my job or a step on toes I should step on and I am sure that that happens but I do find that when I see people really moving intentionally this way and really approaching things from I'm an offer solutions and I'm GonNa jump in it seems like more often the opportunities open up and they're senior teams they have not been taught and it does not a gender thing I don't think it's about an agency neuropathy thing when they're junior well then you're learning something but you didn't come like a child to say you know I found this on the playground and don't have any idea what to do with it role for the very first time I still think there's value in coming to your boss with a recommendation even if your boss says will know and here's why meant I grew up in a lot of the formal schooling and training I had and I think the fear for a lot of us is like what if I'm wrong what if I offend or would if I go down a path that I shouldn't be going Hominem at and I also start the thinking process around how will solve it in some sort of substantial way and it doesn't necessarily mean that the answer comes attribute or maybe I throw out an idea in a small way or I see a problem and I jump in and identify that like why is that helpful so you mentioned school and Higher Education I WanNa say also in autumn in our first jobs we're not taught to place where they can begin to stretch this a little yes and part of managing up I think is taking that Opportunity Yeah indeed and I inc that many if not most of our audience if are not already there I think it's an invitation to start that process of thinking about how can I just thinking but acting and finding that place where you can begin to enter that conversation as I think about that Tom I'm also conscious of we use this term coaching up so I'll give you an example that I think has real traction and implications for a business there was a team leader she was the ball us there was a team leader who would think out loud during her staff meetings and so she would say you know maybe we should do some research on that and the well I'll tell you where I hear it a lot I hear somebody wanting to coach up when they don't like what the boss does wanted her to be better about that and thought it was a coaching situation to get her to change her behavior now I just WanNa say at the beginning of this conversation that distinction when should someone be thinking about coaching upward is that enter this team would kind of look at each other go with was that instruction and then maybe somebody would do something and then they would find out later oh two people had have initially were not taught to Kinda run with things because we don't actually know the lay of land I'm guessing that your coaching for leaders audience is team was like well no we didn't know you're doing it the point is the team leader was not very clear with our direction the person I was coaching go to your boss and ask your boss to change her behavior I by the way you have to give her the feedback right hey boss you're creating some key both been working on it and that looked like a waste of time or sometimes nobody would do it but the boss would come back later and go did anybody ever do any research and then the this makes perfect sense if I had a boss that I would probably be frustrated too however think about the idea that you're behavior and respond positively to feedback now you're gonNA actually get your boss to listen to your feedback and change behavior I just don't think it happens I don't think it's encourage people to quote unquote coach up which is to think of this as an issue all that are in your audience they are in long term relationships how hard is it to get your partner to me end right so so but here's my point I don't think you have to be a victim I do think there's an issue here that can be managed so here's how Heo in our staff meetings you don't maybe don't know it but here's what's happening I could tell the whole story over again and maybe your bus would hear that but I'm GonNa Guess that a lot of people appropriate it's not your job to coach your boss that's not what you're there for but I don't think you have to be a victim either though issue rather than her behavior I'm a partner in it because I'm in the story and I think when you think about quotas essence hey Sarah I wanna tell you that I've noticed a couple of times as a business issue and I wonder how you might help us with this where the team can take some responsibility and do some things differently themselves she'd may not have to change anything but once I begin to think of this as an a business issue not behavioral so stop thinking I have to get my boss to be more specific and clarify her thinking and stopped her situation she's contributing but so are we or so am I how do we want to manage this and now I can come to my boss with a gen is kind of brainstorming in those meetings cause she's creating chaos that's all about her behavior and its finger-pointing it's blaming it's judgy this is not helpful and now she's barely in the story yet and I'm not GonNa do it as a finger point I am going to and this is and I'm going to assume shared responsibility one of the things that I hope in the story that I told I hope that when I first laid that story out there was a really obvious by the way if it were one of your direct reports I would say it's still not helpful to be judged and blame me it's just not but if you think about it as a business issue and come to your boss arrived at this place so how do we frame this in such a way that addresses the business issue right yeah and listen I think this is

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