Your boss says they’re in favor of a new undertaking that you see as critical, and they seem to be well-intentioned. But they aren’t taking the necessary steps to make it happen.
It could be that their support is lukewarm. They may be—consciously or unconsciously—feeling the need to protect the status quo, for any number of reasons.
So it may end up being your responsibility to “manage up”, which takes care and forethought because you’re going to enter into a negotiation—and not from a position of power.
When meeting with your boss, you’ll need to:
- Be very clear about what you want to achieve
- Have some ideas about how you want to proceed
- Explain what you’re willing to do yourself to make it happen
At that meeting, you may be asking for permission to draw up a plan or get a commitment for a higher level of support. Your ultimate goal should be to come to an agreement that is concrete and measurable so that it keeps things moving forward.
If appropriate, you can try to line up a strategic ally beforehand to advocate for your agenda, but it will still require you, at some point, to take the direct approach and have the courage to be very clear with your boss about what’s needed.
Because interacting with bosses can be a delicate matter, we too often look for other ways to deal with problems—or just avoid addressing them altogether. You may or may not be successful in enlisting your boss’ full support, but you’ll have done what you could to serve your organization.