Wednesday, February 22, 2017

4 Ways to Manage Sideways Without Being an Idiot

On a daily basis, who do you interact most with at work? Chances are, it's the people sitting next to you, or those on your team.

If you're lucky, these are good relationships and you don't secretly wish the person harm (just a mild case of shingles, perhaps). Still, even the best relationships at work require some management, and that's why it's important to learn to "manage sideways."

Managing sideways isn't as easy as it sounds. First, your colleagues don't want to be "managed" by someone on the same level. Second, if you don't do some planning on where and when to do it, you'll end up damaging relationships that are critical to your success -- and you'll make people wish  you would get shingles.

It's also important to understand what managing sideways means. It means that you aren't pushing hated jobs off onto someone else on your team, or dodging your responsibilities. It means that you're trying to effectively manage your time and resources so that you're more valuable to your team and your company.

Here are some ways to manage sideways:
1. Communicate clearly. Don't be vague about what you need -- people won't trust your message if they believe you aren't being transparent. "I could really use some help on this project," doesn't state your needs clearly. "I need some help putting graphics together for this project because the client has moved up the deadline and I'm concerned I won't get them all done. I know you've had a lot of experience using this software program -- could help me complete a couple of charts?"

2. Be responsive. Once you get a colleague to help you, then don't just disappear into the ether. "I'll be on email all day if you need me, and will try to respond within 30 minutes if you've got a question," you say. "Or, don't hesitate to give me a call." No one wants to take on extra work while you go get a mani/pedi on your lunch hour.

3. Use your manners. Managing sideways means you need to take extra care to preserve a friendly relationship with the colleagues who help you. Always say "please" and "thank you" and be willing to share credit when they pull your butt out of the fire. If the boss gives you kudos for a job well done -- but a teammate helped -- say something like, "Thank you, but I really want to give Matt some of the credit since he helped me complete some of the graphics."

4. Be confident. If you act like you cannot believe that someone is willing to help you, the colleague is likely to waffle on the commitment just because you're behaving like he's an idiot for doing so. Or, if you come off as arrogant ("Of course anyone would be happy to help me!") then you're also going to have difficulty finding anyone to pitch in. Instead, think of it as asking someone you respect and trust to help you out, and that you appreciate such a helping hand. This will keep the relationship on a friendly basis and help avoid any awkwardness.

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