Someone suggested I write about this topic so here goes. What can I share from my own observations as food for thought that could help someone else deal with their fear of senior managers? I myself have had the fortune of learning from some brilliant and encouraging managers who I have respected and admired. However, that can be a rarity. Whether you’re an introvert or a perfectionist who doesn’t take well to criticism, or you’re just starting off, the good news is that you will grow to learn a lot about conducting yourself with upper management. Perhaps the following scenarios are a good starting point.
Fear # 1: I am not high enough in the food chain to be taken seriously by a senior manager
➡️ Everyone starts at the bottom. Do your research, know what you’re talking about and deliver with confidence. Let your work get you noticed. Also, good reviews travel through the grapevine.
Fear # 2: Senior management sits on a different floor behind closed doors – I can’t just walk up to them
➡️ That could be especially if your company has a hierarchical culture. Find out who their assistant or right hand is, get that meeting in the calendar and make sure the manager has a clear picture of your motivation and intended outcomes. Try and try until you get your meeting and when you get it, please oh please don’t be late and remember to thank them for their time.
Fear # 3: A senior manager has a reputation of being intimidating and difficult
➡️ Good news! You know this already and uncalled for behavior is less likely to throw you off in your interaction. Knowledge is power. Prepare yourself mentally and proceed with caution.
Fear # 4: I can’t say no to or disagree with a senior manager
➡️ It’s acceptable to disagree as long as you deliver your message with professionalism and have solid facts to support your argument. After this, be prepared to respect the manager’s decision. They are the boss after all. Some managers actually prefer to build teams who challenge them. Figure out who you’re dealing with.
Fear # 5: I am maxed out but don’t want to appear like I am not dedicated to my job
➡️ Only you know your limits. It’s better to take a step back early and explain your reasons with supporting facts than to overstretch yourself and become a burden to the manager (and yourself) when you burn out.
Fear # 6: If I am too friendly to a senior manager s/he may question my motives
➡️ Friendly and agreeable go a long way. Ingenuity or a lack of effort to have a smile on your face will probably get your equally qualified or even less-qualified-but cheerful colleague a seat on an exciting new team over you.
Fear # 7: I am afraid to ask for a promotion or pay rise
➡️ Who isn’t! If you’re female, hundreds and thousands of articles, books and research will reassure you that this is common i.e: women are more likely to undersell themselves than their male counterparts in the workplace. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. These articles might help:
How to ask for a pay raise and get it [You may need to subscribe]