A business leader I once worked with was pushing hard for an out of turn promotion for a manager on his team. He insisted that the manager was deserving and that we should make an exception because he was “must retain” talent. His reason was that this guy was committed, worked hard, was very responsive on email (even in the middle of the night) and was reachable even while on vacation. I suggested that we do a 360 feedback on this individual, to justify the exception.
The results were a big surprise! His team members hated him because he was never available to them and communicated poorly. His peers did not trust him because he neither met his commitments nor responded to their emails/messages/ calls. He blamed everyone around him for failures and had lost trust of most people he worked with.
The business leader was shocked to discover how different his perception of the individual was from the reality on the ground.
Unfortunately, this is not a one-off case. We have all encountered peers & managers who have mastered the art of managing up. We’ve been surprised (& upset) that their managers have not seen through the posturing. We’ve been disappointed that no one bothered to take our feedback regarding the individual. And some where along the way, we may have either decided that “kiss up” was part of the culture & tried to adapt or that this is a place we don’t want to work.
Net result for an organization where “manage-up” is widespread, is always the creation of a bad culture and poor employee engagement!
Creating an organizational culture that truly values openness and feedback is super critical in driving long term employee engagement. Openness – not just in communication, but more so in the way inputs are taken for critical decisions. It’s a small investment of time and effort that yields great returns!
People judge us by our actions, not just our words! And it’s important for leaders to not just espouse an open, feedback driven culture, but to become true role models of that culture!