10 Ways Managers Maintain Credibility When Higher-ups Reverse Decisions
Promised promotions aren’t happening. Instead of increasing headcount you’re laying off. How can you maintain credibility with your team when upper-management changes decisions?
Your word feels like a promise to your team.
Broken promises corrode credibility.
10 practical ways to maintain credibility:
#1. Tell people what YOU are doing.
- I submitted paperwork for your promotion.
- I gave our proposed budget to my boss.
- I explained that we need to increase headcount.
#2. Don’t tell people what you think higher-ups are going to do.
#3. Narrow the audience.
Give information to people who need it, not the whole team. Who needs to know you put someone up for promotion?
#4. Show empathy toward your team and upper management.
Unthinking bobble heads lose credibility. Explain why decisions were changed and express empathy. “It feels disappointing.”
#5. Communicate changes with optimism. “I know it’s disappointing, but we’re going to keep doing our best.”
#6. Speak up for your team. You lose credibility when teams feel like sacrificial lambs.
#7. Don’t minimize challenges. Empty-headed cheering lowers credibility.
#8. Model the way.
The best way to lose credibility is to grant yourself exemptions while holding others accountable.
#9. Build relationships.
Make things right and do differently next time.
- Has trajectory. It’s always being validated, gained, or lost.
- Opens doors but doesn’t give permission to drift.
- Enables people to predict how you will act.
Credible people enjoy opportunities untrustworthy people lose.
You maintain credibility in the present.
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Dan, I like your comment–“Unthinking bobble heads lose credibility.”
I also think it’s very important to be able to explain to an individual or group the reason or reasons why senior management reversed a decision or didn’t support your recommendation.
Thank you, Paul. Giving explanation isn’t the same as excuse-making. There’s a difference between supporting and agreeing. But it’s a lot easier to support when you agree.
I know the term ‘higher ups’ is referenced somewhat informally but until we think like a team and support each other (as noted in your ‘show empathy’) we will continue to have an us/them mentality. Personally I struggle with the terms higher ups or even upper management. I know people use those terms often but it places responsibility in areas that front line sups need to also have buy in on.
So glad you joined in today, Jen. Your interest in avoiding an us/them attitude is well taken. Wonderful add.
Any thoughts on what to do when this continually occurs to a team and is part of the culture? I think this is a large part of why many folks are exasperated with work and morale levels are exceedingly low. Always appreciate your work!
Hi Scott. I think you’re right. There are some organizations where the law of expediency outweighs values and leaders serve themselves instead of others. I wish I had an answer for you.
It’s trite to say find another job. But it’s the best I can offer. We can’t change others. We can make our own choices. The trouble is, some people are working to put food on the table. And in some cases, we don’t believe there is an alternative. But, my experience demonstrates that some leaders care deeply and some organizations earn profit with heart.
Thank you for this post! This was a struggle in my former life, and now I try to avoid putting my folks in that position.
Sounds like you have learned from experience. Congratulations. We repeat the past when we fail to learn from it.