Management Mastery: Individuals

How to be an advocate

Sometimes in the workplace, individuals consider whether or not they want to be an advocate for someone. Being an advocate is going to bat publicly for a person. You can be a supporter, a counselor, an advisor, any number of positive influences… and still not be an advocate.

When considering how to be an effective advocate, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Are you on the same page about what the goal is? For example, if you are a manager wanting to advocate for one of your direct reports, you can’t help them if you believe their goal doesn’t apply in the role they have or within existing organizational parameters, or if you believe their desired outcome is unreasonable.
  2. Are you informed? Know the factors in play, which may be fundamentally different than what the other person wants or understands.
  3. Can you articulate clear rationale in favor of the person? It should be more significant than “it feels right” or “it’s the right thing to do” – why is it the right thing to do?
  4. Do you have full clarity of challenges or roadblocks, so you can take steps to address them? There is a methodical way to ask yourself and address why not? here in question #4 in addition to asking why? in question #3.
  5. Who else can be a piece of the puzzle? You can advocate by pointing someone in a better direction than you can provide in the moment, or by recruiting others to the cause.
  6. Can you make the commitment to help plan and execute on that plan? Do not relieve them of the responsibility to act on their own behalf, but remember that being an advocate is an active role.
  7. Will you follow up? Don’t let it die on the vine, or just set the person on their way and wash your hands of it. If it was worthwhile to set on this path in the first place, it’s worthwhile to follow through for someone.

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