The art of management requires that you spread your influence upwards through the organization, as well as downwards. If you want to achieve results and get on, you will need to gain the support of your superior. Most bosses can quickly detect flattery and manipulation-but there are other more acceptable strategies that will enhance your upward influence and win for you the continued backing of your superiors...
1. Support your boss at all times.
If you give your boss loyalty and support, you can normally expect such support in return. You can make your support obvious in various ways. Remember: in the wash-up, you exist to support your boss.
2. Take a long-term view.
To prove that you're worthy of your boss's support, you'll need to win that support over time. It will require your continuing efforts to develop a positive working relationship. Be persistent and patient in working towards that goal.
3. Make sure your boss notices what you do.
Find ways to show your boss your strengths, your abilities, and your willingness to accept responsibility. Being recognized as being very good at what you do is the best way to stand out from the crowd and win the support of your boss. Think about how you sell your ideas, present information at meetings, collect and collate information, interact with your boss and others, and so on. What differentiates you from your colleagues? And is your boss noticing? Consider providing your boss with a monthly one-page report of your achievements. Keep copies of those reports to use at performance appraisal time.
4. Try making your ideas your boss's ideas.
Present your proposals in such a way that your boss can contribute to them and thus feel some 'ownership' of them. Management consultant Derek Rowntree offers this advice:
Show your boss how to gain something of value from what you are proposing.
If your boss makes suggestions that are at all practicable, incorporate them into your proposal.
If they are not practicable, get your boss talking about the implications until it is obvious to everyone they are not.
If your boss offers a better proposal altogether, praise it; and you be the one to offer suggestions.
If the only way of getting your ideas adopted is to let your boss get the credit for them, you may sometimes decide to do so for the sake of the proposal. The key is to win over your boss by working with him or her. Gain your boss's confidence in your ability to create and develop your worthwhile proposals cooperatively. Let your boss appear to have played the major part.
5. Tackle conflict constructively.
From time to time, conflict with your boss is inevitable. By all means disagree if you have a case, but don't dispute authority (the ultimate decision rests with the boss) or incite confrontation in the presence of others. It's smarter to retire to fight another day. Never beat your boss into the ground. If your boss loses face, you'll end up losing more. Remember, 'in the end, the boss is always right'.
6. Gain a reputation for solving problems.
Keep minor problems off your boss's desk; solve these yourself. If your boss must hear about problems you're having, make sure the news comes from you first. Never let your boss be embarrassed by having to admit ignorance of a problem or crisis in your area. Whenever something is seriously wrong, tell your boss and indicate what you're doing to remedy the situation. Make it clear that you have learned from the experience and that the error is unlikely to happen again.
7. Be open, frank and honest.
Your boss needs to rely on you, to believe in you, if you are to gain his or her support. The faintest suspicion that you are not being perfectly honest will cause the boss to have doubts about trusting you again. Gain a reputation for honesty and straight-shooting.
8. And remember...
Don't wait for your ship to come in; swim out and meet it. Look for opportunities to impress your boss and win support.
Learn to play office politics. If you find such games disagreeable, remember that those who play them well may soon be your superiors.
When your boss makes a mistake, tread lightly.
Observe the chain of command. Never go over your boss's head.
You'll gain your boss's respect if you refrain from spreading gossip or putdowns about colleagues.
Help your boss look good if you want to win real support.
Finally, heed James Cribbin's advice: 'Avoid crying on their shoulders, stepping on their toes, twisting their arms, and breaking their hearts.'