Home' HR Monthly : December 2016 Contents 46
MOVE ON UP
How to manage upwards requires skill and courage.
BY AARON GOONREY & LUKE SCANDRETT, LANDER & ROGERS
HAVING DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS
Learn how to prepare for tough conversations and maintain good working
relationships after. This one-day short course can also be customised for
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AS ADVISERS, WE OFTEN HEAR FROM HR PROFESSIONALS
the following lamentation:
"I agree with you, but my bosses won't understand... It's unlikely
that anything will change."
Most people in the workforce have to answer to senior management
and receive their approval before signi cant decisions are made.
Being able to receive such approval assumes that you're able to
communicate with senior management about what's going on in the
business. And by what's going on, we don't mean the latest of ce
gossip or why people aren't big fans of the biscuits in the kitchen.
We're talking about matters that require senior management 'buy-in',
such as maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, a workplace free
from bullying and harassment, and ensuring that everyone is receiving
their legal entitlements according to the law.
Without senior management involvement, businesses may nd
themselves in a similar position to the 7-Eleven franchise with
its ongoing issues, involving systemic wage underpayments and
fraudulent payroll records within the franchise network. This has
caused signi cant damage to the business's reputation.
This 'cautionary tale' is -- unfortunately -- not as uncommon as you
might think. There is often a degree of disconnect between senior
management and the 'common folk' in a company, including HR.
There can be many reasons for this divide, including a general
lack of interest from senior management in ground-level issues, or
employees' fear of raising issues that might be perceived as trivial.
However, as HR professionals, it is vital that you take the initiative in
cultivating transparent and effective relationships with stakeholders in
your business if you want to ensure that it is not just a one-way road
full of speed bumps.
HOW TO BUILD A TRANSPARENT CULTURE
• KNOW YOUR STAKEHOLDER AND/OR MANAGER: Get to know
them, and learn how they operate. What's their preferred
communication style -- email or face-to-face? Do they want
details or summaries? Do they prefer you to drop by whenever
there is an issue or to make an appointment? Do they like
small talk or want to address things directly? Half the battle
with effectively managing upwards is understanding the most
efficient way to communicate.
•TAKE THE INITIATIVE: Don't wait to be asked whether there are
problems in the workplace -- be proactive and put issues before
senior management before they blow up in your face. There are
plenty of recent cases where HR professionals should have taken
the initiative, only to nd themselves in court being accused of
breaching workplace laws.
•BE READY TO SAY "NO.": As tempting as it might be to assume
that pleasing your manager requires saying "yes" to their every
whim, you must be ready to tell them "no" when they are
asking you to do something unlawful or improper -- or maybe
just a bad idea for the business. Obviously, this is not a step to
be taken lightly, and you should always have a considered and
thorough basis for taking this position, but it can be a very
effective way to show your managers that you are trying to help
them make effective decisions.
• PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES: Taking a moment to imagine
things from senior management's perspective may help you
understand what's driving their decisions, and consequently
what you can be doing to positively in uence their actions.
• UNDERSTAND THE BUSINESS: To be an effective people
manager and to effectively manage upwards, ask questions, be
inquisitive. Your objective is to become a trusted adviser and
in uence key decision-makers in a constructive way.
• "FEAR OF GOD FACTOR": If all else fails, it is worth reminding
the stakeholder/manager that if they're doing something
unlawful, then they may be personally liable for such breaches.
Remember that if you actively help your senior management,
you're likely helping the business and, hopefully, your career.
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