How to Manage Your Manager

That was the title of a talk I was to give during an in-house meeting at IBM. I was a trainee at the time and the topic/title was assigned by another trainee. She was smiling as she presented it to me. It was something we all wanted to know.

We had two managers of marketing representatives, one manager of systems engineers and a branch manager over the other three. I decided to interview the managers and some of the top marketing representatives and systems engineers for my presentation. The resulting talk was well received and the following are some ideas that I still remember.

The top performers and managers agreed on the value of a manager. That value probably surprised many of us. The value of a manager is to support the people who actually get things done. If a marketing rep or systems engineer was having a problem getting the job done, the manager was asked for advice or help. Although my presentation included other details, that was the essential message.

Remember that I was talking to the top performers. They knew their jobs and were motivated. They did not need managers who would motivate them or micromanage them.

Perhaps setting up that environment was the first step. IBM hired people who would be motivated and capable. Then those people were put through an intensive training program.

Management set goals for performance. Sometimes contests were put in place to reward achievement – to stimulate even more growth.

The key to managing your manager was to get the job done without need for supervision. I noticed that some of the top performers did not show up for sales meetings. They were too busy doing their jobs. I followed suit. There is nothing like having your name called for an award and an announcement that you were at a customer location – getting the job done!

If you are managing people, are you focused on results? Are you making sure that those under you have the skills and resources necessary to accomplish company goals? Are you improving your management skills?

Finally, is everyone being rewarded? We all want to be appreciated. Top performers should be rewarded. It is far better to keep great people than constantly train new people.

Management is all about performance. If you want to manage your manager, be a performer. Get the job done.