“What can I do to get ahead?”
I’m asked that question more than just about any other, especially from young professionals who are still carving out their careers. While there are a lot of different ways to answer it, I’ve found that there’s one answer that they haven’t thought of: “Make sure your boss’s boss knows who you are.”
Most people approach work in a linear fashion. If I work hard and stand out to my boss, that will be enough to get me promoted. Working hard and having a good relationship with your boss are both essential, but when it comes time to discuss advancement, it’s your boss’s job to sell your accomplishments to their boss. You want to make that conversation as easy as possible for your boss, and being on their boss’s radar will put you in a more advantageous position right out of the gate.
That’s why standing out to your boss’s boss is one of the best things you can do to advance your career. These are some simple things you can do so that your name is top of mind come next promotion cycle.
Volunteer to Take On More
Finding opportunities to work directly with your boss’s boss is important to building a professional relationship with them. That’s why you should always be on the lookout for ways to contribute outside of your normal scope of work.
These don’t have to be big projects. It can be something as simple as a weekly email to the office that covers trends in the industry, or taking ownership of a report that you already contribute to. The more things that you own or touch, the more opportunities your boss’s boss has to see the quality of your work. And when important tasks come in, your name will be at the top of the list to own them.
Be Active In Your Office Culture
Whether it’s a charity, a rec-league sports team, or a monthly happy hour, chances are that your office offers some opportunity to socialize with your coworkers off the clock. While I can appreciate the urge to duck out after a hard day’s work to relax at home, socializing after hours is a great way to make a positive impression on your company’s senior leadership.
You don’t have to attend every event, but leaders notice and appreciate employees who take an active role in contributing to a positive office culture.
Own Communication Whenever Possible
Name recognition is the name of the game. You’ll be surprised how far simple repetition can carry your career.
In any report or project that you own, offer to be the one to send through to your boss’s boss. Doing so will build trust and rapport, and will connect your name with the quality work that you’re already doing.
Talking to senior leadership can be intimidating, and I see a lot of employees shy away from having casual conversations with their boss’s boss. You can stand out from the crowd just by having a quick chat a few times a week.
So when you see your boss’s boss coming in on a Monday morning, ask them how their weekend was. On a Friday, ask if they have any interesting weekend plans coming up. Find appropriate times to strike up small conversations, and those lines of communication will start to spill over into work correspondences.
Keep a Positive Attitude
What’s the difference between getting the job done and being the one your boss’s boss wants to get the job done? It’s being enjoyable to work with. Commitment, passion, hard work and a positive attitude are all traits I look for when I’m scoping out future leaders. No matter what the task, keep a smile on your face – it won’t go unnoticed!
Ultimately, there is no substitute for hard work. But the employees who get ahead quickly are the ones who are also able to subtly showcase their output to the right people. Put in a little effort to stand out to your boss’s boss, and you’ll put yourself in the best position to be recognized for the hard work you’re already doing.