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The involvement of management is a key factor in the success of a progress initiative. Every agent of change must be able to take management with him.


Gaining the commitment of its superiors and senior management is a process similar to Provoke involvment. On the difference, we are here in a particular case where the relationship between people is very specific.

The need for this involvement is not to be demonstrated, it is essential for the success of the process and essential to ensure the proper organization of it, because let’s remember it: At least 1 member of the management must be part of Steering committee, and for the majority of projects, a person from the management will be the Sponsor or the Champion.

Here too, it is complex to say that there are one or more tools, that it is enough to apply to the letter to obtain what one wishes. We will no longer speak of process and vector that we must follow. First entry in the subject, We note that the more our organization is “vertical , the more the change must come from the top and at most change agents will have to convince management of the benefit of the changes they propose.


1 – To position yourself

As a first step, the change agent must be able to position himself in the organizational structure. That would be Master Black BeltLean Practitioner or Yellow Belt, Understandably, our position, our “weight” will not be the same and what we expect from us will be different. Thus, beyond the knowledge of its position in the organization chart, each agent of the change will have to answer these 3 questions in order to be able to position itself and to better identify his relation with his superior :

What is a superior ?

With the evolution of culture and theories of management, relationships with the hierarchy are moving more and more towards a relationship of ” collaborator” than hierarchy in the strict sense of the term. A collaborator being a  ” person who works with one or more other people to a common work »1. Notion that goes in the direction of the modern definition of human resources which maintains that ” the post-modern management of Resources human is no longer aimed at functionalizing individuals by specifying the framework of their activity (symbolized by the specifications ), but to make the workers adhere to values ​​(written in corporate charters), to organizational logics, to collective projects »2.
But make no mistake, the boss is not a colleague. The duality “upper / lower ;” is always in the mores and practice and the traditional definition is often applicable: “The hierarchical systems that we know rest mainly on the taste of some for the power, and the acceptance by others of this constraint.A hierarchical superior is therefore someone who is comfortable in a rigid system and who has the taste of the power to have sought, preserved, increased3“.


It should be noted that most generally, a superior has the following characteristics:s :

  • The desire of the person to be superior, to command.
  • Great self-confidence.
      • Typology versus the Exercise of Authority Three types of personalities emerge, depending on how they exercise authority: the authoritarian, democratic and lax personality.
      • Typology versus competence : A manager usually relies on three types of skills: technical, relational, and managerial.
      • Psycho-pathological typology .: Use with caution to help understand the background of the character of our interlocutor. The categories are: obsessive, hysterical, paranoid and manic-depressive.
      • Globalizing typology  : A superior can be classified in some “classes” behavior related to “images ” well known to all: the young man, the individual at the end of his career, the organizer of the catastrophe and therefore of victory, the bureaucrat, the brilliant man, the man of action, the man of war and the king.Strong emotional influence for subordinates.

        Who is your superior?

        The knowledge of one’s supervisor is very often biased by our own perceptions. It is important to try to objectify our perceptions in order to be in a better position to manage the relationship effectively. In a general way, the hierarchical superior can be ” classified ” in some typologies :

    What is our culture ?

    The knowledge of the culture is also essential for the management of the relation with the superior. The company is governed by rules that strongly influence the behavior of individuals. These can be formal (regulations, procedures), informal (not written, but that everyone knows and practice) or sociological (bureaucratic functioning for example).

    It is very important to distinguish the operation of the formal enterprise from the informal sector. Whether at the level of hierarchy or communication, the informal enterprise sometimes takes the upper hand and a good understanding, or even an active participation, sometimes allows, if not to reverse the balance of power, at least to act more effectively in his relationship with his superior.

    Some highlights of any business must also be well understood: decision-making, power, the reward and sanction system, the value system … A good understanding of these points in a given environment makes it possible to better understand the mechanisms that can influence the subordinate directly or indirectly and, perhaps, act in a way that is favorable to him.

    2 – Manage communication

    Interaction with his superior

    Different tactics of interaction can be envisaged, according to the elements mentioned previously but also according to its own character, the moment, the place … As much as possible, it will be necessary to “ to score points “to each of them. For this, one must be prepared for the following sequence of events: “my action, his response, my response to his response


The GO player

This attitude is that which is generally expected and considered as the basis of labor relations. Whenever possible, the collaboration must be real and the employee’s objectives must be in line with those of his / her supervisor. Of course, this is not always the case, but in order to continue working in the same mode, it is important to see this collaboration as a necessary step towards other forms of relationship.

The actor, the seller who seduces his superior

He worked his strength of seduction and conviction. He masters the effects of rhetoric and puts it at the service of staging his own professional story. Lawyer of his own condition, he can present his professional achievements by valuing his position by mobilizing an arsenal of techniques (reasoning, rhetoric, communication strategy …), he manages to make his interlocutor accept his own vision of his job.

The swordsman, the duelist who confronts his superior

When viewed positively, it has several advantages. On the one hand, it demonstrates a strength of character and courage, a necessary characteristic for an agent of change. On the other hand, she assumes a strong involvement in the work and can highlight some skills. However, it is dangerous to use this tactic too regularly since openly declaring disagreements can bring the superior into question too obviously. It will be used with caution and with managers who like to be challenged.

In the specific case where the interaction takes place during a meeting, some good advice must be respected. :

  • Have a clear objective : Our speech should be clear and concise, focused on the desire to obtain a decision. Of course, this goal will have to be SMART. In particular, avoid looking for a goal with a Gap too important with the current. Typically, ask to stop a position during the 3 days of the intensive phase of a Lean project while having all the resources with us, if this has never been done, the decision may be no. Rather offer to do this during the closure of the plant or during maintenance. 
  • Well prepare it : come with clear and up-to-date data that can not be questioned, have a good knowledge of its subject, have prepared a clear visual … make a list of questions that our higher is likely to pose and prepare the answers.
  • Take into account the interest of our superior : If our objective is to obtain the agreement of an investment to be able to improve the equipment, we will have to come up with concrete figures on the associated gains. If the objective is to ask the mangement to come more on the ground, we will come more with “testimonials of the staff to demonstrate the isolation of the teams and we will show the gains that the superior to come on the ground, especially to better understand the situation and make appropriate decisions.


The affectivity of the superior plays an important role in the way of managing the relationship. Knowing one’s feelings better separates the arguments that have a chance to touch him from those who will leave him unmoved. The main questions to ask are :

  • Is he ambitious ?
  • How much does he want to dominate ? 
  • Is he vain ?
  • Is he jealous, envious ?
  • Is he anxious, anxious ?

Abandoning an all too common attitude of considering the hierarchy, and especially its immediate superior, as a constraint, that is to say as something over which one has no more hold than on bad weather and that one needs therefore suffer, even to spend a significant energy to complain about this bad weather.

3 – The demonstration

Still often unknown by the staff and also by the management, the steps of Excellence require to be detailed, explained … a change agent will have to take time and be pedagogue in his communication towards his superiors so that they can understand them. ins and outs.

This will go through :

  • A theoretical explanation of the process by taking the time to explain philosophy and values.
  • Participation in Lean projects with teams. Explain that in addition to showing that management is close to the field, it is a way for an agent of change to demonstrate the benefits of the process. 
  • Set up a Lean project directly to the workplace of the superior. Most often a 5S, it is an inexpensive way to show improvements and demonstrate associated gains. You can also do a project Just In Time E-Mail  to limit their outstandings (consisting generally of putting rules on the recipients of mails), or to set up a standard Agenda.


1 – Dictionnaire le petit Robert

2 – S. Haefliger (1999) – Jeux de mots, maux de jeu

3 – G. Desaunay (1998) – Comment gérer son supérieur hiérarchique

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