Final part of Retail Level Up’s interview with Lynn Whitbeck, CEO of Petite2Queen and Future Forward Sales, and the co-author of the book Practical Wisdom at Work.
Mickey Quinn: You mentioned a phrase I want to explore a little bit more. What do you mean when you say we need to “learn how to manage up?”
Lynn Whitbeck: Managing up is really sort of that secret to boosting your career and it is how you can effectively work with your manager. Here are the top habits to manage up like a pro.
- Take responsibility and do heavy lifting. This means that you hold accountability within your own circle of work and heavy lifting is where you first look to see if you can solve or find the answers to solve the problem before bringing it to your boss. There’s a lot of ways that we can do that. If you are not sure the direction your manager might want to go you can present what you think is the correct answer but say that you want to confirm. That let’s your manager just give you a “yes” or “no” or point you in the right direction so that you are not bothering them with things that you shouldn’t be bothering with.
- Awareness and perception This means you need to understand the influences of your manager, know their leadership style, who they report to, and who has their ear. Your boss has a completely different circle of people with whom they interact and in some cases, completely different priorities. They also have information that you are not privy to. It is really important that you shift your perception to that of your manager’s viewpoint so that when you go to interact with them, you have that in mind. When interacting with your manager you need to come with an appreciation of their authority, and their hierarchy within the organization.
- Sharing ideas of importance to them Let’s say you have an idea you want to bring to your boss. Present in this way “I know how busy you are but I would like 2 minutes to show you how we can save 10 hours to reduce resources on this project.” You need to think like your boss, so how does your idea benefit them so they can, in this example, save resources so they can save manhours. Bring them data, make a business case, and back the idea up with the data and the benefits for them and for the team and the company.
- Be aware of nonverbal communication 93% of our communication is nonverbal. That means your tone, manner, words, body language impacts whether or not you are successful in your communication. Be brief and to the point, show them you respect their time. Your attitude and your approach creates an impression in your manager’s mind.
Mickey: Having been a manager myself I would love that employee!
Lynn: I think following these tips were what helped me climb the ladder in my career pretty rapidly. My core values of treating everyone with dignity and respect from the custodian to the receptionist to the CEO of the company helped me. Also, I was driven to help others and to provide value.
Mickey: How does someone network with confidence especially in today’s reality of social distancing and in light of the global pandemic? What are your tips to our audience in how to go about networking in this new reality?
Lynn: You must start by having positive intent. Positive intent is demonstrating sincere interest. and then that discovery of exploring commonalities and actively listening because it is about them. You need to always be giving value and then through finding common ground you can develop a relationship that is mutually beneficial. Today we have some powerful tools. LinkedIn of course being one of them. In LinkedIn you can leave voicemail messages. A voicemail means this is a real person, not a robot. Don’t ask them for something when they don’t even know you. Cold calls and a hard sales pitch rarely work. Lead with value and genuine interest in who they are and make connections because maybe if they’re not a connection for a sales lead they will be a connection for relationship that you can build with them. Create personal videos that you can then send as a message on LinkedIn. That reinforces you are a real person and your personality. When I give value, people asked to connect with me, and they can ask me questions and I answer them, because when we help one another without being selfish, it makes such a better world. Just imagine what the world could be if we all approached each other with respect and selflessness?
Mickey: Yes, making it the world better one interaction at a time.
Many members of the Retail Level Up audience work face to face with customers on a daily basis and sometimes, especially right now, the emotions can run a little high. What tips do you have to how to deal with uncomfortable situations with poise and with grace?
Lynn: Depending on the situation, the one thing that you need to think about is that this is a point when your customer is the most insecure. You need to perform “emotional repair”. The first thing is to stop explaining and listen to them! Lean in and listen. If you are not quite sure about something say “can you tell me more?” By asking them to help you understand, you are allowing them to perform emotional repair because you are listening to them, because it is all about them. When you do that you are showing how you value them as a customer, as a person. When people feel you are truly listening, they will often calm down.
Mickey: that is really a great tip: to pause, and to show the customer that you are listening; that you hear them, and you want to help them find a solution. And as you said, stop explaining!
At Retail Level Up we work with our clients to help them build leadership skills, often when they don’t necessarily have a title that is recognized as part of a leadership team. Basically, we are helping them learn that they don’t need a title to be a leader. What are your tips to our audience on how to become recognized for their leadership skills even before they may hold that title?
Lynn: That’s a great question! So, I already gave you tips on managing up; that is really crucial to being recognized as a leader. A key component of that is the heavy lifting which I talked about, where you really take on that responsibility and you look for solutions. Now that doesn’t mean that you just go out and around your manager at all but it does mean that you look for a way to resolve something before you escalate it to them. Another tip is to use that powerful pause, whether it is with a customer or with the manager. Whatever the situation, a pause allows you to take that moment to gather yourself and then you can help identify what needs to happen. Sometimes it is just listening and letting someone do that emotional repair we talked about. Take a moment to think before you speak.
Mickey: I think sometimes people have the misunderstanding that when you become a leader, or you want to be recognized as a leader, that you need to have the answer to everything and that when someone asks a question you should be able to respond immediately. Quite often the best leaders are the ones that ask a question back, such as “tell me more” or “help me understand.”
Lynn: Right, being a manager does not mean you have all the answers. The best leaders surround themselves with really strong people who can help them find the right answers.
Mickey: Any final tips or maybe your favorite do’s or don’ts for anyone in the business world?
Lynn: Share your enthusiasm and your passion! Be your genuine and authentic self. And lastly, be open to learning and unlearning. We live in a rapidly changing world, and heck you know LinkedIn did not even exist when I started sales! We are constantly in that process of learning and you have the power to choose and the responsibility to choose. You have the ability to choose a new path and to unlearn and relearn something.
Mickey: That goes right back to your original tip of committing to resilience, agility, and problem solving.
Thank you so much! If our audience would like to learn more about the services you offer they can find information on your website which is www.Petite2Queen.com and www.futureforwardsales.com and to find your podcast, just search your favorite podcast service for Petite2Queen.
For more information about our guest, Lynn Whitbeck and the great services she and her team offer, visit https://petite2queen.com .
Retail Level Up provides coaching, training, and consulting services to individuals and teams. Visit www.retaillevelup.com to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.