Managing Up with Bobby Lee
Welcome Bobby Lee who has been involved in maintenance engineering working for different companies in various capacities.
Bobby Lee started out as a maintenance apprentice and has risen through the ranks as a maintenance engineer for over 9 years.
In this episode we covered:
- What does it mean to manage up?
- Why would someone need to manage up?
- Give examples of moments that you had to manage up?
What does it mean to manage up?
Managing up means taking up responsibilities of a senior role while still working in a junior position. Occurs in instances where your superior isn’t present or is indisposed to execute their mandate.
It is intimidating because peers are aware of your junior capacity but the responsibility to lead rests with you. Whoever is in charge can also trust a junior staff with their responsibilities.
Why would someone need to manage up?
It happens when one steps up to lead the team in different situations. Perhaps in absence of a supervisor or a planner. Situations may also rise where one needs to go out of their way and present solutions, and to get others on board.
Give examples of moments that you had to manage up?
A maintenance superintendent wasn’t present and I had to attend meetings together with superiors. It also happened to be a day when many machines had broken down. One of the solutions was to ask an older team colleague to change work stations to an area they had expertise.
The key was to ask them while mentioning that I would attend to the task if it were possible. They were more skilled and I couldn’t be in more than one place at a time.
What advice is there for a technician who finds themselves in such circumstances?
- Lead out of respect; ask for help justifiably and not out of authority.
- Build personal relationships with peers.
- Know the skill sets of your colleagues.
Have you ever gotten a pushback from the teams you have managed up?
Yes. But the solution was to provide alternatives to let them choose the best one for them. I explained to them why I was asking and showed them what they stand to gain if they performed the task. Perhaps mentioned how it could help them achieve their targets or makes their work easier.
It is usually not the time to present the bigger picture i.e. company goals. Instead, explain to them what they, as individuals, stand to gain from doing the task.
How intimidating is it?
Managing up can be intimidating because you have to offer input on behalf of your superiors. This happens in the presence of other senior leaders.
The secret is to lay down the data to put your point across. Be confident and speak up to offer your perspective in the topic at hand. If you do not agree with a point in such a scenario, then speak up and present your input.
How do people prepare to manage up?
It comes naturally to most people. They make an effort to know what different team members do exemplarily well. It is important to take initiative in scenarios where no one else would. Most importantly, be efficient and good at what you do.
Have conversations with people and follow through with tasks to completion to build leadership capital.
What makes the biggest difference?
- Respect helps in a variety of situations especially in getting others to do things. Not authority.
- Psychological safety is essential; a combination of trust and respect.
- Learn to coach and not sound authoritative.
- Be confident in your abilities.
- Step up and don’t be distracted by what others say.
- Managing up is intimidating but worth it
Bobby Lee Links:
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