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How to Advance Your Career (and Manage Relations With Your Boss)

This topic is about advancing in the same career field. If you are interested in planning your career, see Career Planning. If you are interested in changing your career, see Career Change.

Sections of This Topic Include

New Boss: Make a Great First Impression
Influencing Up: How to Get Them to Say Yes
Your Relationship With Your Boss - Do You Have Boss Problems?
Numerous Resources About Career Advancement and Relationships With Bosses

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Related Library Topics

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to Career Advancement

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Career Advancement. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Career Management Blog
Library's Human Resources Blog
Library's Coaching Blog

New Boss: Make a Great First Impression (Career Advancement)

© Copyright Marcia Zidle

If you’re getting a new boss in your existing job, consider getting ‘hired’ all over again.

How many bosses have you had in your present job these past couple of years? I’ve asked this question in my career management and personal branding workshops. I heard everything from “my boss seems to hang on” to several who have come and gone to the unbelievable 5 new bosses in two years. Wow!
How do you deal with this phenomenon – management churn – the revolving door strategy of managers in some organizations?

Most of you who are reading this post are not at the level to change this strategy. That doesn’t mean you do nothing about your situation. A recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that you must look at each new boss with the notion of getting “hired” all over again. In other words, start making a good impression immediately. Here’s why.

Most managers feel more invested in people they’ve hired personally. They reviewed the resumes, conducted the interviews and made the ultimate decision to hire the person. They are invested in that person. They want the person to succeed so that they will “look good” to their boss.

But a new boss, who has inherited a team, needs to size up quickly each of his or her direct reports. Some people, with a new boss, keep doing what they’ve been doing waiting for the boss to tell them otherwise. But there’s another career strategy. That is, get ‘hired’ all over again by taking these three positive actions.

1. Set up a short, perhaps 20 minute, meeting with your new boss.

You can approach it as wanting to find out about her goals for the team so that you can make sure what you do is in sync with those goals. If the response is “I’m planning to do that with the whole team”, then say “great and perhaps after that meeting, we can meet to go over the specific responsibilities of my position.”

2. Think about what you want your new boss to know.

Develop a short presentation focusing on your accomplishments – the problems encountered and how you and the team handled them. If possible, pull together some samples of your work – reports, presentations, prototypes, brochures, whatever demonstrates your capabilities. Also be prepared if he or she asks you about present and future challenges for the department.

3. Treat the meeting like a job interview.

Start by saying, ‘Let me tell you about my role’. Review the presentation you prepared, highlighting your own achievements and those of your team. Don’t let this be a one-way conversation. Hopefully your boss will have questions so that you can go more in-depth about what you bring to the table. Then you ask your boss about her priorities for the department. Now start making the connection between the priorities and how you can meet them.

Career Success Tip

Somebody on the team may end up being the “go to guy or gal”. You might as well give yourself the opportunity to show that you could be that person.

Influencing Up: How to Get Them to Say Yes (Career Advancement)

© Copyright Marcia Zidle

"In my new job, I have to make a presentation to upper management. In the past I’ve gotten tongue tied and failed to get support for a project. How can I get them to take my ideas seriously?”

Take a step back for a moment. When someone doesn’t understand your ideas immediately, don’t label him or her an ignorant bureaucrat or whatever. The issue is one of influence – how to get others to see your point of view and buy into it.

Influencing Up

Whether you’re trying to get additional resources or to impact a staffing decision or to extend a deadline, it is similar to selling products or services to customers. They don’t have to buy; you have to influence them to say yes. But I’m not talking about pushing your ideas or products or services. Rather, influencing is an artful way to get people to see the value of what you’re offering and to encourage them to take action. Here’s how.

1. Put yourself in their shoes.

Think as they would when developing your proposal. Continually ask yourself: How would they view this? What would their response be? What are they most concerned about? In other words, what problems keep them awake at night that you can solve?

2. Build a foundation.

Gather facts, statistics, cases and other evidence that support your position. Then connect the dots between the “what” – your request or proposal and the “why” – how it will achieve specific goals and objectives. Don’ t assume they will make the connection. That’s your job. It is also the key to influencing up.

3. Test it out.

Asks others what is and what isn’t appealing about your ideas or suggestions. Find out if there are certain buzz words or key phrases that will get their attention. This helps you hone your presentation so that it won’t be immediately shot down or shelved. The more you’re on their wave length, the more likely you and your ideas will be taken seriously.

Career Success Tip

Influencing up, getting management to buy into your ideas and then act on them, requires personal confidence, professional credibility and skillful communication. Make sure you have all three.

Your Relationship With Your Boss - Do You Have Boss Problems?

© Copyright Marcia Zidle

Are you in this situation? You and your boss just don’t seem to connect and work well together. It isn’t that you are having knock down fights. It’s just that you know things could be better. You don’t want to look for another job. So you have to figure out how to make it work.

Here are seven guidelines for managing your boss so that your career won’t get stalled or sidetracked.

1. Know thy boss.

No two people think alike or work alike. No two bosses either. Your job is to find out her specific expectations – not to reform her, reeducate her or make her conform to what the management books recommend.

For example: Does she want me to come in once a month and spend 30 minutes presenting the plans and performance of my team? Or does she want me to come in every time to report even when there’s a slight change?

2. Don’t hide.

It’s natural to yield to the tendency to minimize interaction with people we don’t see eye to eye with. Reducing your daily contact can cause a further loss of trust and respect on both sides. And a lack of communication can foster misunderstanding, mistakes and more problems.

3. Have perspective.

If you resent working under a manager you don’t like, you might perform below your abilities. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. It could be a career killer. Rather, try to see what possible good there is if you let go of your frustration or anger. The boss can leave, you may get transferred to a more promising area or you may find that he or she wasn’t so bad after all.

4. Don’t bad-mouth.

Handle disagreements with your boss with particular care. Let him know of your concerns and suggest other alternatives or ideas. Support your manager’s position in public as much as you can and do you best to make polices and decisions work, rather than try to subvert them.

5. Avoid war at all cost.

The painful reality is that the boss has better access to power and influence at the top. If you take on this person, chances are you will lose. Management could very well stand behind the incompetent boss to avoid having its own hiring abilities called into question.

6. Make the boss look good.

Go to him or her and ask: “What do I and my people do that helps you do your job? And what do we do that makes life more difficult for you?” You need to find out what your boss needs and what gets in the way. Also, realize it is in your self interest to make the boss successful.

7. Keep the boss in the loop.

Bosses, after all, are held responsible by their own bosses for the performance of their people. They must be able to say: “I know what Anne (or Joe) is doing.” Bosses don’t like surprises!

Numerous Resources About Career Advancement and Relationships With Bosses

Career Advancement

How To Ask for a Job Promotion: Career Planning
Getting A First Management Job
How to Reinvent Your Personal Brand
How NOT to ask for a raise
Watch Out For These Seven Career Mistakes
You Made a Mistake, Now What?
Moving Into Management
Sally's First Day
Manage Your Career Competitive Edge
Five Career Challenges You May Face
Build Your Reputation and Your Career
Career Survival Strategies to Ride the Waves of Change: Part 1
Your Competitive Edge: Have Skills Will Travel
Don't Get Caught in the Peter Principle
Lateral Moves: Will They Advance Your Career?
You Just Got Promoted: How to Manage Former Team Mates
Moving Up In The Non-Profit World
Are You Relying Too Much On Your Strengths?
Getting That Next Promotion
Advance Your Career: Get Out of the Shadows and Get Noticed
Career Resilience: How to Bounce Back From Challenges Part 1
Career Resilience: How to Overcome and Grow From Challenges Part 2
Career Advancement: Have You Hit the Glass Ceiling?
Career Management: Insights From the African Bush
Make the Right Career Move: Part 1
Make the Right Career Move: Part 2
Your Next Performance Review: How to Get a Great One
Are You Professional? Here’s How to Find Out
Is It Time To SWOT Yourself?
Five Career Killers For High Achievers
Are You Ready For a Promotion?
Asking For Help Can Help Your Career

Relationships with Bosses

How to Bring Out the Best in Your Boss
How to Get Your Boss Fired
Saying No to Your Boss
Top 10 Tips For Managing Up in a Top Down World
Getting a New Boss? Interview Again for Your Job
My Job is Awesome, But My Boss is Evil
New Boss: Make a Great First Impression
Influencing Your Boss
Do You Have Boss Problems?
5 Musts for “Managing Up”
How Do I Make My Boss Recognize My Productivity?
When the Boss Says Yes And Means No
What Would Make Your Boss Want to Fire You?
Influencing Up: How to Get Them to Say Yes
Five Ways to Look at Bosses — a Leadership Training Profile
My Boss is a Control Freak
Managing Your Boss to Manage Your Work

For the Category of Career Development:

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