I recall seeing a comedy sketch where the comedian was sharing all the ways he helps out at home and wants to make sure his wife sees what he does and appreciates him.
For example, just as his wife steps into the kitchen he’ll turn the dishwasher on, turn and smile at her and give a little, “look what I’ve just done” head nod and sigh.
This is comedy yet when I recall this sketch there’s one little bit of me that thinks, I bet he’s done that for real, even once, just to test it out.
You don’t need me to tell you not to do this to be seen, to be visible.
Do you think playing tricks to be more visible is okay?
What do you think of this, ?
Are we being perceived in the way we want to be perceived if we’re using tactics and strategies that are more corny like the dishwasher trick?
I’d love to know what tricks in the workplace you’ve seen?
And more importantly did they fool anyone?
I believe there are positive, deliberate and effective ways to make sure you are visible and seen as positive, productive and professional. I also believe it takes less energy over time.
Attention seeking behaviour includes some obvious actions but when thinking of managing up and being seen as reputable and knowledgeable, and let’s face it, easy to deal with, it can include:
- over-the-top conflict starting or not letting go of
- constant reassurance seeking
- turning a hiccup into a drama
- overly self-confident, entitled, with an over-inflated sense of self-worth
- way too eager to please, reluctant to act independently
- moody, easily annoyed: everyone walks on eggshells around this person
- hard to please, hardly ever showing enthusiasm or support
- overly cooperative publicly but stubborn and uncooperative privately
- sensitive to criticism no matter how well it’s presented
- saying one thing and doing the opposite
Managing up is easier when you are seen as reputable and knowledgable.
If others perceive you as courteous and friendly; as confident in being able to disagree with respect and reason; hard working and humble; and honest and considerate. This will go a long way to being able to manage up more effectively.
This is not about being a silent wall flower, and simply ‘letting your work speak for itself’. Busy senior leaders simply don’t see everything. Sharing a win with your senior leader can lift their spirits so don’t avoid sharing the wins. They have to report up so give them something to report they will make them look good.
Being informed and insightful about how others perceive you will give you the advantage to demonstrate your leadership at the right time with the right tone.
If you have a boss or a direct report who tends towards some poor attention seeking behaviours:
- Stay calm! Avoid holding your breath, do everything you can to use your breathing to keep you calm. Keep your brain oxygenated so you can think.
- Respond to the content rather than the emotion. Ask questions that are focused on the facts only.
- Let them know what you can and will do. And for a direct report, be clear about what behaviour you will and won’t tolerate.
- Be clear about your boundaries and hold them. If you feel you have to cross your own, e.g. time boundary, let them know this is an exception not a new normal.
- Be ready to walk away if you feel you, and them, may be in danger.
For your have direct reports that make some poor attention seeking behaviours then it might benefit them from increasing their self-awareness.
If you feel you might struggle a bit with a senior leader, there is always benefit in exploring your own emotional intelligence.
Research indicates that Emotional Intelligence (EIQ) can be learned and can be seen as measurable differences directly associated with professional and personal success. Furthermore, it may be responsible for up to 80% of the success we experience in life.
Emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness (or self-recognition). Without this first, we can get ourselves into situations which inadvertently frustrate others and as such make managing up a real struggle.
Start with asking the person to pay extra attention to how they feel when challenged, when something doesn’t go to plan, and when they interact with people they don’t necessarily like but have to work with. The aim to hear if they can identify their own emotions, if they can pick up on cause and effect. If you need help with this, you might consider the EIQ-2 Assessment, I can help you with the assessment and debrief.
This assessment serves to heighten awareness of EIQ, identify relative strengths and weaknesses based on emotional dispositions, and provide a framework for interpersonal and intrapersonal effectiveness.
I’d love to know your thoughts