How do you change the perception of people in order to take on more responsibility?

People’s perceptions, especially senior management’s perceptions, are made up by the results we achieve, how we achieve them, and how we conduct ourselves. It really is a combination of each of these things, , , not just a matter of getting the job done.

Don’t underestimate the significance of “how you go about your work” and “how you conduct yourself with others” plays when senior management starts looking to promote someone.

If you aren’t getting assigned additional responsibilities and you think you should be, take a step back and try to objectively assess what the manager sees in your performance.

You may be getting results but possibly the manner in which you are getting your results is not quite what senior management wants to see. It may also be that you aren’t getting the results they expect.

Are you setting the right tone in terms of teamwork?

Are you creating positive energy for those around you or is it negative energy?

Are you creating the right role model image senior management wants?

All of these questions are worth asking yourself, , , and when you answer them, , , be objective and honest with yourself.

Ask your senior management why you are being passed over and ask in a non-confronting way. Be open to what they have to say and listen objectively. You may not like what you hear, but it is their perception that you have to deal with just like dealing with an unhappy client.

Don’t try to rationalize or defend yourself, just listen!

Don’t talk, , , LISTEN !!

Listen to what they have to say and incorporate their input into your approach to do a better job, whether doing a better job is getting better results or changing how you go about getting the results.

Personal story
My career took off when I stopped pushing senior management to give me more responsibility and to do more for me. Up until November 1986, my approach was all about me. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting more promotions, more money, more responsibility, , , all the things I thought I had earned.

Then, in November 1986 our company had a major reorganization. I was assigned a management responsibility for a small technical support group of 22 people supporting 23 clients.

My focus changed almost overnight although I didn’t realize it until much later. I started focusing on our clients and my employees to achieve some specific company objectives, and I was working so hard on this and having so much fun, , , I forgot about “me”.

When I truly focused on doing a great job for our clients and the company and started getting results in those areas, more responsibility just started coming my way. I suddenly became promotion material and was getting more and more responsibility when it seemed that I wasn’t even trying to get more responsibility. Sometimes, you just have to “let it happen”. It seems to happen easier when you aren’t pushing so hard.

In hindsight, it was about results and also about how I approached my responsibility.

My perception of myself before the reorganization was very different from my senior manager’s perception of me. I thought I was getting great results, but the reality was I was probably getting meager results at best. And I was always pushing for more every chance I got, , , and this created a negative vibe that I didn’t realize.

After the reorganization, the results were specific, quantifiable and matched up with what senior management wanted. It also helped that these results were visible, , , they have to know about it to appreciate the effort. Our monthly reporting processes communicated the results in an objective fashion and it made a difference.

Two more tips that may be worthwhile
First, raise your perspective to a senior manager level. They want managers to be mature and to think in terms of the client and in providing tangible business value. Being proactive in developing a strategy that’s in sync with the client and business owner’s needs is critical. Do things that reduces cost or improves productivity of groups of people and you endear yourself to senior management, especially if it helps achieve business financial goals.

Second, I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in senior management meetings to discuss the need to fill a senior management position and we had to turn potential candidates down because they didn’t have anyone in their organization who could step up and fill their management position if we promoted them.

To move up, you have to be able to fill your position with as little ripple as possible.

When we make management changes or promote someone, we look closely at the impact it’s going to have, both positive and negative. Management Rule #1 is to identify and develop your replacement.

Many managers tend to avoid doing this because they are concerned it makes them vulnerable. That’s completely wrong in my mind. Getting your replacement in position actually shows us you can develop a strong organization and it positions you to take on more responsibility.

Focus on positive results and how you go about getting those results. Both are important.

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