We’ve all heard the term “Managing Up.”  It’s the ability to manage the person or people you report to, those above you in the managerial or leadership structure.  Most people who’ve had some level of success at work have the ability to do this to some extent.  But, have you ever thought about the people you lead and supervise?  How easy is it for them to manage up?  Have you given them the tools to effectively work with you, a roadmap on what matters to you and how they can be more successful in their work?

What really matters to you?  If people show up consistently five minutes late to meetings, do you think they are being disrespectful or do you think it’s a sign they are appropriately busy doing their job?  Are there deadlines that matter incredibly and some that can be seen as guidelines?  Do you value people who are outspoken, with their opinions at the ready, or do you appreciate contemplative employees who don’t speak until they have all the facts?  Do the people you lead know the core values that drive your work and relationships in the office?  Do you know theirs?

When employees have to guess the values of their leader or their team, they are going to get it wrong. Not all the time, but often enough. They may work really hard to hit a deadline thinking it matters to you, but the report they hand in is just something you are going to archive.  They may work hours and hours of overtime trying to prove their value, when you think people who can’t get their work done in a normal day of work must be wasting time.  Why not communicate the things that matter to you and those things that are less important.  It will save time and energy and ultimately produce a culture that lines up with your values.

We all have preferences; how we like information presented to us, how we like to make decisions, how we like to be approached with feedback.  Have you communicated your preferences to your employees?  Do you prefer e-mails with background information and narrative, or do you prefer just the bullet points?  Is your door actually “open” or do you prefer people to make an appointment to discuss important matters? Do you like spending time chatting with people, or are your more task oriented?

As a leader you need to be flexible and meet those you lead where they are.  But, we all have preferences and if you communicate them, people who report to you are more likely to follow them.  Also, how well do you actually know your preferences?  One of the powerful tools we use, Everything DiSC®, helps individuals, teams and organizations understand their preferences and ways to work more effectively together.

We all have things that push our buttons, or events that still cause us to react strongly to them.  These landmines can even mean that we react a little irrationally to things that objectively may not be a big deal. Landmines can also be those things related to organization or team history that new employees may not know to avoid as topics. Do your employees know the landscape of the minefield they are walking in? This is not a list of things people are forbidden to talk about, but information so they can make informed and intentional decisions.  Were you personally involved in a project that ended poorly and it would be better if people didn’t use it as an example of how not to do things?  Are you an vegan, so you’d rather not listen to the deer hunting stories at staff meeting right after deer season?  Did a former employee take information from his work and launch a successful start-up and people still feel burned by it?

It’s nice to believe that as leaders we don’t have these things that really get under our skin.  And, it’s incredibly important that we work to minimize the number of things that impact us this way.  But, we all have some of these things.  As a leader, it makes sense to communicate them to our employees so they don’t accidentally hit one of these buttons with no warning.

My Way or the Highway
All of these things make it sound like I am encouraging you to have employees make all the changes in the way they work.  It’s my way or the highway. We’ve all worked in those settings, and it’s awful. That’s not what I’m advocating at all, but your employees will perform better if they know what matters to you, how you prefer things to go, and what your hot button issues are.  You’ll also perform better if you knew those things about your employees.

Along with Everything DiSC, True North Consultants is an Authorized Partner for The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™.  We work with teams and organizations around the country to achieve greater performance and better results.