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Workscripts: Perfect Phrases for High-Stakes Conversations by Mark Levine, Stephen M. Pollan

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Chapter 6. MANAGING UP

For decades, career-conscious middle managers have been encouraged to "manage" their relationships with their own supervisors with as much, or perhaps even more, care than they gave to managing employees. The idea was that you should do whatever you could, within propriety and proper protocol, to stand out from the crowd. The goal was prominence; to become, literally, the most outstanding among equals.

Today, it's the tallest daisy that gets cut first. Achieve too much prominence and you can become a threat to your boss. Stand out from the crowd and you make yourself a target, not only for backstabbers and fearful supervisors, but for bean counters and cost cutters as well. All employment is fleeting, so it's better to stay off the radar than to become too visible.

The idea now is to strive for success, not prominence. Do your job well and make your boss look good. Let him or her become prominent, if that's what they want. They can become the face for your superior results. Be the number-one producer who only attracts attention when the latest sales figures are released. The place you want to shine is on the spreadsheet, not the golf course. Keeping your head down and getting results are the best ways to make yourself valuable and nonthreatening to your boss.

The first area in which you can apply this approach is in talking to your boss about problematic projects. Work project issues are perhaps the most common of all those covered in this book. But that doesn't ...

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