Transforming Performance - Upwards, Sideways and Down: Part 1

Frank Newberryin Training & Education

Trainer and Conference Speaker Frank Newberry wonders if you are a one-dimensional person at work. Alone in your own comfort zone - or are you working with people from different parts of the organisation to transform work performance? In this article, Frank indicates WHY you should, and then suggests (in Part 2) HOW to start transforming performance upwards, sideways and down.

We should spend more time managing upwards

I recently turned up some research that suggests we should, in addition to managing our team members, spend more time managing upwards. That would mean finding the time to 'manage' our bosses, board members and committees.

The research findings I found also suggest we are not doing enough managing 'sideways'. That would mean finding some time to set up and manage a better relationship with colleagues in different departments in the organisation, not forgetting our customers and/or service users.

Evidence suggests that better relationships bring better work performance across the organisation. The evidence also suggests that our being able to get greater engagement from customers and service users has benefits for everyone involved.

Well, you might be thinking - where will I find the time to do all this? I am up to my ears just managing my team, let alone managing upwards and sideways as well. Anyway, it is surely my manager's job to manage me, not my job to manage him or her?

A wonderful boss who is good at everything

Fair point, and if you have a great salary and a wonderful boss who is good at everything, including motivating and developing you to your maximum potential, then read no further.

In my case - I was not so fortunate with bosses. Not all, but several of my bosses could barely cope with their own jobs let alone help me make the most of mine.

A while back, many of the delegates who came on my management training courses had the same problem to some extent. Evidence of this occurred when I offered a dozen trainees a choice of sessions one day.

It happened when we ran an ageing management development course (for experienced supervisors) for the very last time. Once my co-tutor had left the room, I quietly explained to the group that, as this was the last time the course would be run, I wanted them to have a choice.

Twice as important for career success

I did not want to influence them unduly, but they could have the scheduled two hours on 'Basic Statistics at Work', or two hours on a new module I had developed called 'Managing the Boss'. I then offered to leave the room so that they could discuss their choice privately. Twelve smiling faces quickly showed that they wanted to know how to manage upwards.

Now, the aforementioned research does not emanate from our sector, but there may be some truth in it for us. The researchers gathered enough data to be able to calibrate some powerful numbers. Taken together, over time, as far as business success is concerned, these upward and horizontal activities by the likes of you and me, are about fifty percent MORE important than managing downwards (team members), and well over TWICE as important for career success (development, advancement, promotion opportunities etc.).

Perfect at self-promotion

Certainty, from a personal perspective, I can agree totally with the idea that we should spend more time managing upwards and sideways. I found out the hard way when a younger and more worldly individual joined our team and quickly ingratiated himself with management. This person was promoted within months, when my perspective was that it should take years to get advancement in the organisation. Looking back, I am pretty sure that the individual also stole my ideas and passed them off as his own. The person was far from perfect at the job, but was perfect at self-promotion.

I learned quickly after that experience and was not surprised when the individual concerned moved on to another job in another outfit within the year.

In Part 2, we will look at how you can manage upwards and sideways for the benefit of yourself and your employer.

First, of course you will have to want to do this and I wish you all the best with that. May you always be happy in your work and, as such, be a great example for others to follow.

© 2019 Frank Newberry


A great place to learn more about leading your team to a higher level of performance and morale is on Grounds Training's popular, proven and unique suite of four LANTRA Accredited Supervisory Essentials Seminars this coming winter.

Take any one, two, three or all four stand-alone one-day seminars:

Getting Better Results: Thursday 28 November 2019

Enhanced Communication Skills: Thursday 27 February 2020

Problem Solving and Decision Making: Thursday 26 March 2020

Taking Charge: October 2020

Venue: Allscott Park, Telford, Shropshire TF6 5DY.

For more details on each seminar visit

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