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Managing Upwards - Training courseManaging Upwards

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These are the first steps to becoming a more competent management professional. The ROI will pay dividends fivefold.

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Below are some extracts from our Managing Upwards manual.

Managing Upwards


Where do I stand?

Identifying Hotspots

To change, we need to know where to start. We need to decide what works and what needs to change.

Use the table below to list up to five situations or “hotspots” that could be improved in your working relationship with Management. During the training, we will return to this page and complete the remaining columns.



More of/Less of/Keep the Same

The experience of giving and receiving feedback can be challenging. A simple model that reduces the risk of defensiveness and opens the opportunity for discussion and agreement is to ask for or to provide what we would like:

1)      More of

2)     Less of

3)     To Keep the Same



Getting agreement up front about how we will work together makes the work much easier to carry out, and makes feedback particularly effective.

Try phrases that begin “Would it be OK…” or “If it’s OK with you…” or “Can we…“ followed by “Is that OK?” This enables you to form a simple contract that sets out how you will work together. Agreements can be in writing, but a simple verbal expression of what is required followed by “is that OK?” will also work.

For example:
“If it’s okay with you I’d like to use 'More of / Less of / Keep the same' when asking for or providing feedback. You can do the same in return.”

Are there areas with your manager that would benefit from a contract that makes it clear how you will work together? Use the table below to list potential areas for agreement and potential wording for your contracting phrase or request:


Roles and Responsibilities

All parties in the Management relationship share responsibility for making it work. It can feel difficult or daunting to take an active role in building the relationship where hierarchical authority seems to dictate that “they” should make things better because “they” are the boss.

One approach to levelling out the power in a relationship with Management is to reflect on all the sources of Power that we bring to the table.

In Self-Leadership and the One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler and Laurence Hawkins propose the following simple model to describe a more rounded view of the Power we can employ when working with our manager.


Working Together

To work together, it is essential to understand each other’s priorities. In establishing what is important in your working relationship with your manager, you may want to explore some of the following areas:

What is your organisation's purpose?

  • What is the mission and vision of your organisation?
  • Does it make sense to you?
  • Is it clear how it impacts on your part of the organisation?
  • Could you apply or adapt this for your team, your manager, you?

How are you both measured?

  • What measures are used?
  • Who does the measuring?
  • Who sees and evaluates the results?
  • How frequently does this happen?

How else can you discover their priorities?

  • Ask them directly?
  • Listen to the language they use, look for themes
  • Notice for hotspots or triggering situations
  • Watch out for both positives and negatives


Delivering Bad News

It can be very difficult to deliver bad news or tough messages. But considering the other person’s preferred style of interacting makes tackling this delivery much simpler.

  • Relaters
    Have you got a minute?
    Would appreciate a chat about something...
  • Socialisers
    Time for a brainstorm Team!
    Let's get together and come up with a solution to this problem
  • Directors
    Here is some bad news.
    I have included a summary of effects and highlighted three possible solutions
  • Thinkers
    We have an intriguing challenge that we have not been able to solve yet

There is no one way to deal with delivering bad news, but below are some ideas to think about when approaching a difficult situation:

Must there be “no surprises”?
Should we alert them ASAP or take time to assess first?

Would they like solutions or the opportunity to solve the problem?

Decision Making
How much leeway do we have to decide for ourselves and take action without checking with our manager?

Is there a culture of blaming people or are errors seen as opportunities? If a mistake is discovered how would they like it addressed?

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