Managing up

“The Art of managing your career and getting noticed”

“How can I get ahead in my internship or job?” “How do I position myself for a promotion?” I get this question a lot and have a few ideas for you to consider.

The first 30 days of your internship or first 90 days of your full time position is critical to your success. This is where you land the first impression, show your work ethic, establish yourself as a team player and show your interest in the company and personal success. There are 6 areas that you need to focus your efforts to make an impression.

Company Knowledge: Spend your own time learning about the company. Understand the background and history of the firm. Learn about who and why they started the company as well as the company direction.

Product / Services Knowledge: Study the company’s products and services. Understand how the products are used and the value they bring to the clients. Study the clients/customers and how revenue is generated in the firm.

Process Knowledge: Spend time understanding most of the core processes within the company that pertain to you and your role. This included everything from how to request a vacation day to how performance reviews are conducted. This will help you understand the flow of information as well as the key people responsible for each process.

Organizational Structure: Understand how the organization is structured and how teams are organized. This is where you need to understand the role and power of each leader. Power references to organizational authority as well as the influence the person has over the team and company. Title does not equate to power. Personal influence and leadership are the key signs to a person’s impact on the team. This step is critical to understanding where you should position yourself politically and how to identify the communication structure of a company or team.

Personal Effectiveness: Understand where you fit in and the value that you can bring to a company. Identify your career opportunities within the firm and start learning what it would take to get there. This is the one step that will differentiate you among your peers. Developing your career direction and plan will help provide clarity within your performance and activities.

Managing up: The most successful people I know, have the ability to manage up and proactively manage people’s expectations. Get to know your supporting leader. Review your position description with your leader and do your best to understand his/her expectations of you. Ask questions about your review. “A the end of this internship or year, you will review my performance. What would a great performance review look like? What are your specific expectations of me and my performance?” These are questions that need to be asked early in the process.

Find one on one time to talk with your manager such as during a monthly breakfast meeting that you schedule. You should pay for breakfast and use this time as one on one time to get to know your manager better, understand how you are doing and show your manager that you are genuinely interested in improving your performance.

Breakfast is great, because it is safe. A 7 am meeting before the day begins is always available, and your manager will be impressed that you scheduled time to talk.

Make sure the meeting is structured. Three great questions to ask is:
1) What do you want me to start doing better?
2) What do you want me to stop doing?
3) What do you want me to continue doing?

This meeting is not a kiss-ass meeting, but time that you can truly understand how you are performing and a chance for you to tell your manager, where you want to go in your career. Ask about next steps if you perform well. Ask about potential promotions and the types of skills you need to learn to get there.

Managing up is about understanding the expectations of you and doing your best to provide value. If you don’t spend time asking how you can improve, who will? Far too many employees come to work and do their job and wait for the manager to reward them or provide constructive feedback if they are not performing well. Be proactive and you will find yourself on the fast track of success.

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