Despite the job titles that some workers have held throughout their careers, they have been managing upward for years. They have many skills they will need to succeed as managers. Because they are future managers in disguise, one could argue that their current and past managers have ignored them, underused them, and/or failed to develop their skills for the future. When these kinds of employees leave the organization, their superiors should not be surprised. For them, it was just a matter of time until they realized that they could advance in another organization. We hope that these kinds of employees recognize their own worth and seek better opportunities. They deserve them!

The Example Skill: The Art of Persuasion

As nonsupervisory personnel, future managers know when to use the art of persuasion to get things done. They make it easy for others (i.e. executives, managers, and co-workers) to understand why something should be done. They can easily explain “what’s in it for you” to another person. They don’t waste words when they make these kinds of explanations. The truth is that they have usually thought about the reasons before initiating such a conversation.

Understanding Where Future Managers Fit into the Current Power Structure

Future managers are able to easily form relationships, whether permanent or temporary because they want to achieve results. People who “manage upward” excel at stating why a person above, below, or equal to them within an organization’s current power structure should help them or take another desired action. These influential individuals can successfully convince colleagues to back off, to ignore information, to give financial support, or to take a stand with little effort. It usually depends on the situation and how the individual perceives that his or her goal can best be achieved. People who manage upward don’t want to fail. They will keep their mouths shut if they don’t feel confident about the end result. That being said, some have risk-taking personalities, and they just aren’t afraid to fail. They know that another victory is just ahead of them.

What Skills Obtained From Shared Learning Do Future Managers Have?

We’ve all worked with people who seem to be naturals at managing upwards. Many of these amazing people have spent time studying the personalities in their organization’s power structure. They have a keen understanding of how they fit into the system. They have focused on forming alliances, they have tried not to make too many enemies, and they have worked hard at becoming useful to people. They begin their work day thinking about what their boss will need, and they never pass up opportunities to do favors for colleagues. Future managers quickly become well-known throughout the organization as guardians of internal knowledge and always know who to talk to about a problem. They are problem-solvers.

Shared Learning

You might be wondering what people who manage upwards have to do with shared learning. Good learning management systems give employees a chance to learn and to apply new skills in different contexts. When they apply new skills, employees also need feedback from experts and chances to try a different approach. Some of these are soft skills, such as persuasion, and others are scenarios, which employees have to solve. They may know that a scenario has more than one right answer. They will develop in their professional capacity by thinking through scenarios and deciding why something is a better course of action. We recommend that you use your LMS, whether it’s located on your company’s intranet or on a mobile platform like HireNami, to give employees frequent opportunities to manage upwards. Ask them what they would do in different situations and then review their answers. Offer feedback when you can. It is ideal if managers give employees who manage upwards ways to test their skills on real projects, not just in shared learning scenarios.

Instead of asking what you’re doing wrong to develop future managers, pair them with mentors who manage people above them. We have tons of ideas on developing managers through our social learning platform. For details, please contact us today.