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Managing up

Siobhan Robinson-Morris, Industrial Relations Officer

Managing up

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Succession planning is a key issue in local organizations, with many companies finding themselves with aged executives ready to retire and no one to take over the reins. While this shortcoming is mostly the fault of the top level management of the organization, there are a few key points which candidates need to remember to be successfully cherry picked to ascend to executive roles. The October edition of Essence magazine highlighted these areas of great importance:
1. Make a lasting impression. All impressions count. You must ensure that all interactions with your boss are positive and that they leave a good impression of you and your work. This should also extend to customers, stakeholders and key contacts in your industry. Also, always autograph your work with excellence. You do not want to be remembered as the person whose work was sloppy and full of errors.
2. Know your value. Many of us undervalue ourselves and our contribution to our organization or profession, we are afraid to “tell our story” and “blow our own trumpet”. There is no need to be arrogant or condescending to others, but it is key to your professional development that you alert others of your successes in the field.
3. Determine your trajectory. You must ask yourself, “What is my long-term goal? Do I want to be a consultant? Do I want to be the chief financial officer? Then, what do I have to do to achieve this?” In some instances you may have to leave the current organization to gain some much needed experience or it may require that you undertake further qualifications. Your time as a middle manager is that time to complete all the necessary steps to move on to the next level.
4. Collaborate with your boss. In order to prove your ability to successfully segue into a managerial role, you must be able to show that you can generate worthwhile ideas within the organization. You should always approach your manager with solutions, as opposed to problems. Never wait for your boss to solve everything, taking the initiative to approach him or her with solutions will leave a better impression.
5. Stay connected. Should part of your plan include moving on from the organization, maintaining contacts within the organization/industry is still vital to your upward mobility. Simple emails, phone calls and the occasional lunch meeting can all go a long way in maintaining that contact.   
It is also time to join professional associations and widen your network. Developing and maintaining key contacts in the industry will be pivotal in managing up. 
6. Dress for where you want to be and not where you are – this goes hand in hand with appearances and making a good impression. You have to ensure that if you want the role of CEO you must act like a CEO in all aspects.
Successfully managing up is not solely about the company devising a comprehensive succession plan, employees must also own the process to ensure that they are chosen as the prime candidate for promotion.
By following the steps noted above, you can place yourself in the ideal position for executive recruitment; remember all impressions count, and in order to ensure you stand out from the crowd, you need to make yours lasting, know and highlight your value, determine what you need to do to achieve your goals, be proactive in decision-making, network and maintain lasting connections, and dress to impress.