When the going gets tough, managing up gets tougher. Scared stifles truth. Needs stay unsaid. Unfounded worries mushroom in the dark. Unquestioned assumptions breed false conclusions.
Your boss can’t know what you’re thinking. Don’t assume–anything. Unsaid needs can never be met. “My boss won’t understand,” is likely wrong.
I learned the hard way.
I couldn’t sleep. As an HR Director, I had coached plenty of others on how to “manage up.” Now my turn– I locked my courage in the desk drawer.
I ate my own managing up advice for breakfast. I spoke my truth. Not eloquently. In fact, awkwardly. I was mad. But he understood. I heard his story. Then, I understood. We built an excellent plan around shared values. Now he is my friend (and a career-long sponsor).
I’ve never regretted telling my boss the truth.
Managing Up with P.O.I.S.E.
A few lessons learned from both sides of such conversations
- Wait until emotion bottles up
- Dump everything at once
- Talk in generalities
- Bring other people into it
- Contradict yourself
Instead handle the conversation with P.O.I.S.E.
Prepare: Make an appointment. Plan your key points. Write down your intention. Start small to test waters and build trust.
Open Gently: Ask sincere questions. Get in your boss’ head. Listen with an open heart.
Initiate: Ask for what you need. Start small, but don’t water down. Be specific.
Summarize: Share what you’ve heard. Be sure you’ve got it right.
Establish Next steps. Great conversation is iterative. Don’t try to solve everything in one round.
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