In his book Managers Guide to Employee Engagement, my friend Scott Carbonara challenges all employees, regardless of level, to engage up. He suggests that there is a significant difference between sucking up, managing up, and engaging up. We’ve all seen the first two, particularly the first.
Imagine what our workplaces would look like, feel like, if everyone engaged up.
FOR YOUR BENEFIT
Suck-Up: A person who ingratiates himself or herself, often using insincere behavior. A suck-up may be said to “cozy up with the boss.” In more erudite circles, a suck-up may be referred to as a sycophant. But a suck-up is best known for “brown-nosing” those who may help him or her.
FOR YOUR BOSS’ BENEFIT
Manage Up: This involves assessing your boss’ weaknesses and coming up with a strategy for dealing with them. At the very least, managing up includes the art of paying attention to the management and communication style of your boss, and changing your style to be an asset instead of a liability.
FOR YOUR COMPANY’S BENEFIT
Engaging Up: This means providing positive reinforcement to your boss on the things your boss most values, while simultaneously letting your boss help engage your employees. It’s not manipulation; rather, it’s bringing out the best side of your boss. Your goal in engaging up is to link what your boss wants with what you and your team deliver.
I believe the difference between the three is that your interest at all times is the greater good of your organization.
The driving question should always be what’s best for the company?
If everyone is focused on this larger picture, the result will be a payoff for everyone, including your boss and you.
Of course if you are jaded about your company, this is probably unlikely to happen.
It’s difficult to want the best for an organization that you believe is responsible for your misery. If this is your case, you have two options.
- Rediscover the attraction you had in the first place (much like renewing a stale marriage).
- Leave (still talking about your job here, not your marriage).
I’ll talk more about this in my next post…