Ask for What You Need to Motivate Upper Management

Ask, don’t wonder

I had the joy of talking to my Brazilian son this morning after many months. I am really proud of him because he is a mining engineer who, by his title of engineer, now finds himself in a leadership role with managers and supervisors working in his teams. He has always been a boisterous, enthusiastic person with a natural talent for engaging people. His teams love him and say goodbye at the end of every day with an enthusiastic “see you tomorrow!”

This is not the case with his upper management. His question to me was: “how do I motivate them?”

I think this is a common situation for young managers to want to know how to please their bosses, since acknowledgement and recognition is given differently by their superiors. Young managers typically do not ask for recognition or feedback. Seasoned managers often wait for a younger person to ask for what he or she needs. They may have expectations for young managers to reach a certain unspoken standard before they give recognition. The result is a stalemate of silent longing to hear acknowledgement from the boss and the bosses silently waiting to see progress made on things that they feel should be business common sense.

Let’s break the silence.

For young managers and emerging leaders here are questions to stimulate your thoughts – acknowledge and ask:

  • When last did you acknowledge your superior for their knowledge and experience out loud?
  • Did you follow the acknowledgement with stating how you can benefit from their wisdom?
  • Have you verbally expressed what it is that you admire and what it is that you want to learn?
  • Have you asked your upper management to be your mentor?
  • Have you asked for projects that can stretch you and offer new experiences?
  • Have you asked for what it is that they would like you to learn?

Show an interest in them and you’ll have sparked interest and support.

Established leaders have told me that they value the innovation and fresh perspectives of people entering management now. They also have expressed their surprise at the lack of basic business etiquette and lack of attention to simple professional standards, like punctuality, neat appearance and body odor.

Look around you at the norms of dress and interactions and evaluate their importance in the work environment you are in.

Learning how to adapt to the business culture is the first step to changing it successfully in the future.

Next, start asking for opportunities to learn from senior management.

A great motivator is to express your respect for an individual’s knowledge and to ask him or her to teach you a skill that they have.

Contact me if you want more tips like these relating to your leadership journ

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