One thing I have realized in business is that everyone has upward reporting relationships. CEO’s typically report to boards of directors. Mayors report to councils and publicly elected officials are subservient to the public.
Influencing one’s manager (or other ‘boss’ figure), however, deserves a special mention. When attempting to drive change upwards, consider the following:
• It is your job to sell an idea, not theirs to buy it. Don’t throw unsynthesized ideas over the wall and expect something to happen. Think it through and be prepared to make an effective pitch.
• Show how your idea links to the bigger organizational agenda that your manager is concerned with. If it does not, ask yourself if it is really worth pushing the point.
• Be prepared to pitch the same idea on multiple occasions – persuasion is not a one-shot effort.
• Don’t expect your manager to be infallible – no one is. Show patience with their thinking and work with them in a respectful way as you would with anyone else.
• Build the relationship by consistently asking the question: “how can I improve at what I do?”.
Russel Horwitz, Principal