When the only person in your organization who knows the good work you do is your immediate manager, you have a problem.
Your boss has their own career pressures. Your boss may view their success as being dependent on you staying where you are. And many managers are not attuned to the development needs of their team.
Not to mention the risk of relying on one champion who at some point may leave the team or the organization leaving you without a sponsor.
There is no getting around the fact that you need profile and relationships in other parts of your organization. Your goal is to have important, influential people in your organization think you are golden. One of their most valuable employees.
If your reputation from the higher-ups is strong, you enjoy:
- Increased protection if your manager moves
- Potential access to interesting work beyond the immediate scope of your day-to-day
- A more favorable audience when you seek that next position
- And awareness that you exist from someone able to make hiring decisions in this or another organization
Peer relationships are excellent. Don’t ignore these. Even better are the peers of your boss as well as a level higher than that.
Here are some ways to do that.
- Participate in cross-departmental project committees. Your work can be witnessed directly or reported through the subordinates of these senior influencers.
- Embrace opportunities to deliver presentations. Demonstrate your expertise, preparedness, and how you think on your feet.
- Create impact beyond your immediate department. In my experience, those that move ahead show appreciation, buy-in, and actual impact across departments towards the company’s goals.
- Seek out bona-fide reasons to meet with key people. You could ask for a mentoring conversation or have an opportunity to do due diligence, or brief the influencer. Seek buy-in from your boss before proceeding.
- When required, or where the opportunity presents itself, prepare concise and insightful written materials (emails, reports)
- Stay in touch with people who leave the organization. If a senior influencer who knows your work exits the company. Follow-up and stay in touch. One of the best ways of recruiting is pulling people from past organizations. You never know.
In all cases, your goals should be to show-up in a way that creates a favorable impression, do work worthy of notice and generate results that create buzz. All of the above while working diligently and effectively toward the organization’s goals.
There are three success conditions to building those senior relationships:
- The key is to dial-up your awareness of these potential relationships and be intentional about your work and the reach of your brand reputation. Do not operate on a self-serving, political basis. It will be obvious.
- Ensure your work, level of prepardness, insights and professionalism is worthy of increased attention and scrutiny. Seeking out this higher level of exposure without substance could represent a significant career risk for you.
- Don’t forget your boss. Your behaviours need to be in alignment with this critical relationship.
Build exposure and relationships with senior influencers in your organization to generate increased career security and opportunity.
How have you been successful in building relationships with senior influencers in your organization?