It’s not enough to align yourself after the fact. You want to help inform the decisions and priorities being made, and you want to understand as much as you can. In a world of infinite business data, human intelligence—what people are thinking and saying—is still incredibly valuable.
There are five simple steps to achieving vertical alignment with your boss and direct reports at work.
1) Get regular updates from even higher in the organization
Ask your boss for regular updates about key decisions made at a higher level, especially any changes.
2) Understand what affects you, what to share, and what’s confidential
Make sure you understand how any changes might affect your planning or that of your direct reports. Clarify what information is meant to be kept confidential, at least for now, and what information and messages should you communicate systematically down the chain of command to your peers and your direct reports.
3) Report on important developments for you or your team
At the same time, keep your boss informed of any important developments or reportable facts you observe at your level or learn from your peers or direct reports.
4) Tell your boss about current and anticipated issues
Keep your boss apprised of what’s going on in your other dialogues with your own subordinates and other colleagues, if you have any.
5) Establish the same communication habits with your colleagues and direct reports
If you are someone’s boss, make sure you are driving the same kind of intelligence gathering and sharing conversations with your direct reports. Don’t become so insulated in intelligence you cannot control that you leave your team hanging. They are relying on you to provide guidance, direction, and support every step of the way.
Want to read more? Check out Bruce Tulgan’s book — The Art of Being Indispensable at Work