This guest post is by Joe Takash, a behavior strategist and author of “Results Through Relationships: Building Trust, Performance and Profit Through People.” As the founder of performance management firm Victory Consulting, Joe has worked with clients like American Express, Prudential, Century 21 and General Motors.

Learning how to effectively manage upward is a common concern for entry-level workers and interns, but even employees at high levels often struggle with it. In many cases, it’s because they were never provided a blueprint early on in their career. Here are five tips that can help.

  • Choose good timing. Discover the best times in which to approach your boss by simply asking. This simply inquiry can build credibility because it demonstrates awareness and consideration of their busy schedule. An added benefit is that when you meet with them, you’re likely to have a more focused, less distracted listener.
  • Prepare and plan. Practice your approach vs. just winging it so you can succinctly explain upfront why you’re there and what you need from them. And be solution-focused! Bosses want to know what you have thought of or would suggest about the inquiries you have. This is a crucial component for demonstrating leadership and initiative.
  • Align your understanding. If your boss doesn’t state his or her expectations or ask about yours, don’t waste energy griping to others about it. Take initiative and ask what they need from you.
  • Follow-up and follow through. One of the biggest barriers for positive change is lack of accountability. In managing upward, you can hold yourself and boss accountable by agreeing on times to follow-up at the conclusion of each meeting or communication exchange.
  • Own your results. A young lady named Karen once approached me after a keynote presentation I delivered to her company. With a pleasant, apprehensive smile, she said: “Joe, I really believe I’m equipped to be our marketing manager. I have experience, passion and knowledge, but I don’t know what to say to my boss.” I said, “Karen, I have for you a magic formula and it can be described with one word: ASK!” I politely explained to her that the biggest success stopper is that cynical voice within each of us. Owning your results doesn’t mean you won’t experience fear as you navigate your career — it’s the commitment to courageously ask for what you want and be prepared to state why and how all will benefit.

Image credit, peepo, via iStock

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