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15 Mar 2012

Need a Breakthrough? Delegate Upward

To delegate upward often means asking your boss for help.

Asking your manager for help is a common way to delegate upward.

A manager requested my advice about moving a stalled initiative forward. Nothing seemed to move from the meetings with her. After sharing these meetings with me, there was a trend. She never had tried to ask her boss for help. She had not tried to delegate upward.

To Delegate Upward Asking is Key

When I asked, “Have you ever asked your boss for help?” She paused and then slowly said, “No, I haven’t.” Doing this is not only helpful for the task. It often plays to the boss’ sense of worth.

I suggested that the next time she begin by asking, “Nancy, I could use your help on something. May I discuss it with you?” It is good to ask whether we can make a request.

After her boss says, “Yes,” she is to thank her first, then describe her plan for moving the forward and specifically telling her boss how she can help by asking, “Nancy, can you help me by doing . . .?”

Bad View

Many times, as this manager did, we just expect bosses to suggest their help when we explain a situation. We might also be uncomfortable to delegate upward. We might appear inadequate or worse receive a rejection.

In this case, the manager was able to move forward by doing this. The point is this: bosses like to feel helpful too – they are human.

Good View

Of course, asking the right way helps. Bosses are more likely to help if we ask in a way that ties their help to us. This personifies our request, works toward a good relationship and taps into it.

For instance, asking, “Can you help me by doing . . .” is much better than just asking, “Can you help?” If we can point out how their talent, skill, knowledge, contacts or other such things help, this is even better.

Next Time

The next time a project stalls, an effort becomes difficult or a roadblock appears, ask your boss for help. Not only might you solve the problem at hand, but you might build a stronger relationship with your boss.

 

 

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