Managing Up by Michael & Deborah Singer Dobson, Amacom, 251 pages, $16.95.
"Managing doesn't mean manipulating, tricking, or deceiving," the authors of Managing Up write in the introduction to this how-to guide. "Instead, it means providing the kind of support to help your boss be as effective as he or she needs to be. That helps you be more successful as well."
Sound advice for employees and managers at every level. If you have a boss -- and let's face it, most of us do -- the 59 short chapters in this book offer a checklist on what you need to do and how to do it.
* Follow the "DBMP-BMA" ("Don't bring me problems, bring me answers") rule. In other words, if there is a problem, don't try to hide. Anticipate it if you can, develop a possible solution, and bring that solution (along with news of the problem) to your boss.
* Underpromise and overdeliver. This advice is contained in a chapter on keeping your word. Other ways you can be sure to keep your word are to make promises specifically (so that there can be no misunderstanding later) and to make your promises closed-ended (with specific time limits and details).
* Develop effective, mutually beneficial relationships with people outside your own department and chain of command. The goal is not to be able to "go around" your boss, explain the authors, but to have "good role models, emotional support and a 'safe haven' to discuss certain issues and concerns you might feel are inappropriate to bring to your boss -- such as problems you're having with your boss."
* Limit the "great ideas" and sell them effectively. Some people believe that managing up means impressing the boss with lots of new ideas. First, the authors warn, the boss is especially interested in having tasks accomplished without problems. Great new ideas for the future are secondary. The authors also warn that trying to sell too many ideas is less credible than limiting your ideas to a few. Add more ideas after you've achieved success with the first ones, the authors suggest.
These and many more thoughtful suggestions pack this unpretentious but valuable book.