Saturday, August 18, 2012

Working Smarter: Poor Manager? Try Managing Upwards

One of the sad facts of business is that most managers have never studied management. While they may be good within their technical or business fields, they are not necessarily good managers.

Some in fact are woeful managers who bring to my mind the words of Kenny Roger's song, "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, stuck in the middle with you". There are dozens of slogans and signs relating to poor management ... that's how common it is.

Doctors who are very good at surgery find themselves in charge of a team of other doctors; engineers, carpenters, public servants, all eventually become managers with NO management training.

When your manager manages poorly or is perhaps an abdicator (a manager who simply doesn't do anything), you could consider managing upwards. Managing upwards has some positive and negative aspects, but first let's look at what managing upwards means.

Managing upwards is when you either manage something that isn't being managed by those responsible to manage it or make suggestions to your supervisor about what he or she could do. This may make your work life easier but there is also the chance that your non-performing manager may get noticed as a result of your efforts.

From my point of view, you can either sit in your office frustrated, annoyed and disappointed that your manager is hopeless or you can manage upwards with a view to helping things work better. It depends on your circumstances and personal character as to what you do.

I've always worked with the principle that I manage those things I can manage and devise coping strategies for those things I cannot manage. This includes managing upwards when it has been necessary. Good team work also suggests managing upwards or sideways when necessary if your team members share the idea that they are all endeavouring to attain the same objectives.

It's up to you whether you share your management ability with your supervisor or suffer the consequences of being poorly managed.

Managing upwards is an identified management strategy that might work for you and make your work life better.


PS: Do you have an incompetent supervisor? Write a comment and tell us about it?


  1. Anonymous12:32 PM

    In a whole lifetime of work I have only found two or three managers who were good or perhaps excellent. The rest were crap.

  2. That's been my experience too Anonymous. Good managers and leaders are a scarce commodity indeed.



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