The basis of a successful business organization is the ability of its employees to work and communicate with one another. In businesses with established structures, connectivity is often blocked by the fact that members of the lower grades are uneasy around members of higher management. A lack of comfort around higher management can stop the free flow of information and ideas.
On the contrary, organizations in which employees can overcome any discomfort around higher management are likely to experience higher self – confidence, lower turnover, and even increased productivity. Moreover, employee comfort can strengthen the organization’s harmony which is a useful tool when crisis situations occur.
People who seek comfort around higher management, must maintain a combination of personal and professional skills. They must build relationships and learn to communicate freely with managers, and they must also be able to understand what motivates managers’ decision-making processes.
Moreover, individuals must be careful to maintain professional respect and courtesy even when they begin to experience a greater level of comfort around superiors. Every employee in a business organization is accountable to someone else; strengthening relationships between workers in a positive manner can yield great benefits for the company overall.
Those who are unskilled –
- Lack self confidence in front of higher management.
- May appear nervous and stressed.
- May lose self – control or get shattered when questioned by executives.
- Don’t know how to motivate or impress senior managers.
- May not be able to understand what senior management is looking for.
- Speak and do things that do not fit the situation.
Those who are skilled –
- Can deal with more senior managers without much tension and nervousness.
- Are able to understand how senior managers think and work.
- Know the best way to get things done with higher management by talking their language and responding to their needs.
- Can scheme approaches which can be seen as accurate and positive.
- A sense of comfort around higher management
Those who overuse their skills –
- May build up too much.
- May be seen as too political and over ambitious.
- May spend too much time with more senior managers, copy their positions, misjudge the meaning and usefulness of the relationships.
- Career may be too dependent on seniors.
- May be too liberal with the secret information.
- Lack of courage and self confidence in front of senior management.
- Fear of making a mistake or are self – centered.
- Fear of not being perfect in the eyes of higher management.
- Lack of adequate preparation due to lack of knowledge or skills or a work style.
- Liable to become more emotional under pressure and stress.
Getting a sense of comfort around higher management is usually tough as they are all highly skilled in something or the other to get to that position. They don’t have much time and usually ask difficult questions and expect answers. Sometimes they are not bothered how they make you feel. Many in this situation are likely to get hurt. Some higher level managers will test you to see what you are capable of. Some may ask tough questions just to see if you can handle them while some may intentionally want to push you and may not always be nice to you.
The higher management spend less time thinking about or making any effort to make others feel comfortable around them. They all made mistakes when they were in your position. They learned through tough times. They fell down once in a while. In fact, it is seen that successful higher level managers made more mistakes on the way up than the people who didn’t get there. They travelled the same journey that you are now travelling, they made the same mistakes or most likely worse but they pushed through it all to get where they are. You can keep your fear of bullying away by following a few remedies while you are facing the higher ups of your organization.
Some Remedies –
- Keep Your Cool – Being nervous, anxious and uncomfortable around one or more higher ups is just normal and this should not prevent you from doing your best. Being uncomfortable can sometimes lead to physical reactions like sweating, hesitating or suppressing speech, mispronounced words, blushing of the face, grumbling in the stomach, running out of breath while talking, and so on. When that happens, wait for a few seconds and then take a deep breath, compose yourself and continue what you were doing; they all have been there before. Remember, what you are doing is the best you can do. You might know more about this topic than they do. You’re well prepared and being nervous can prevent you from demonstrating your expertise.
- Worst Case It – List all of your worst fears; what bad things you think might happen; anticipate yourself in each of those situations; mentally practice how you would overcome them. If you can’t think of the right words then take a pause. If you are feeling defensive, ask a question, and if you are running out of time then get straight to the conclusion. Practice live in front of a mirror or with a colleague playing the audience.
- Practice More – Practice what you are going to do several times so you can do it as naturally as possible. This gives you time to deal with questions and unexpected reactions more comfortably. Record yourself and check if you spoke no longer than five to ten minutes per important point. Anything you went into with too much detail that you sounded like a journal. Did you vary tone and volume or was it in continuity? Will they remember your key points a few minutes after the meeting ends?
- Visit The Setting – If it’s a presentation to a number of higher management, visit the setting of the event in advance to get more comfortable in the actual setting. If possible, practice the event there. When you visit, consider the seating. Will people be able to hear you easily or should you speak more loudly? Is there any area where line of sight is restricted? Be sure not to stand there. Will your outgoings be easy to read from the back? If not, go to fewer points and larger type.
- Be Time Efficient – Plan carefully what you need to do and say. Take limited time as is necessary. You need to bring more material than needed. Since no one has ever run out of material, take enough overheads but show less. Since top managers are very busy they like someone who takes up less time than is planned or on the agenda. Let them ask for more detail; don’t overpower them.
- Be Ready For Questions And Answers – Many people feel uncomfortable during questions and answers. Give true answers as most high level managers will tolerate if you do not know the answer but won’t tolerate fake ones. Think of all the possible questions ahead of time. Ask someone else to be your audience and rehearse the answers to the questions. Another place people get stuck is when executives ask for logic and problem analysis, not a repetition of what you’ve already said. The worst is when an executive rejects your argument. If this happens, make sure you’ve not been misunderstood and give clarification. If that’s not the case, let the conflict be as it is. Few executives respect someone who avoids an argument as soon as challenged. You should listen carefully, and respond logically. Do not repeat the whole argument; long answers often backfire since people have already heard it and few may agree with the questioner. In haste to be accurate, you may just look defensive.
- Find A Confidant – Ask a member of top management you know well and trust for advice on how you could feel better and perform more effectively when you conduct with him and the rest of the team. Share your anxieties with a trusted colleague and ask for suggestions and observations. Find someone who appears comfortable in the settings you find difficult and ask how to do it.
- Consider Who Bothers You – If only certain higher ups bother you while others don’t, list the styles of both. What are their similarities and why does one style bother you and the other doesn’t? How could you respond more comfortably and effectively with those who bother you? Maybe you could use some of the techniques you use with the more comfortable groups. Probably you should try not to take anything personally and no matter what happens, return to a discussion of the problem.
- Get Aquatinted With More Top Managers – Try to meet and feel comfort around higher management in informal settings like receptions, social or athletic events, charity events, etc. You will probably realize that higher ups are ordinary people who are older and therefore higher than you in the hierarchy. Maybe then you will feel more comfortable with them when back to work.
- Find Out How Top Managers Think – Read the biographies of great people and what are their view of people like you. Read what they say about themselves and how they viewed people in your position. Mention few things you can do differently or better.
The ability of managing not only your own behavior but also the behavior of people around you, will build up your self-esteem and also your career. Feeling a sense of comfort around higher management, helps to regulate your relationship with them in a way where they are able to witness your competencies and which will take you a long way in your career. The above remedies could help you discover problem areas in yourself when it comes to your comfort ability around your seniors. Self-improvement in those areas with a motive to build positive relationships with your higher management could help you push yourself forward in your career ladder.