ARTICLE: How to Get Noticed by Your Boss’s Boss
Updated: May 1, 2020
You’re bright. You have good ideas, insights, and the ambition to take on more. But you aren’t getting the opportunities you want, and your manager has not been helpful.
How do you get noticed by senior leadership without going over your boss’s head? Try these ten steps. If followed, these actions can help you grow and move toward greater opportunities—without coming off as a braggart or upsetting your direct manager.
Demonstrate your commitment to your growth and to the company. Invest time outside of the office learning skills, taking courses, reading texts in the areas you want to master inside your company—ask your boss (and boss’s boss) for book recommendations. Show interest in taking on special projects that will help the company reach its goals and provide you with opportunities to stretch yourself.
Focus on the team’s success, rather than your own. Senior leadership notices those who work collaboratively and support others and their success. Someone who makes those around them better is invaluable to a company.
Know your numbers and take ownership of your work. Whatever part of the business you own, you have to know it inside out and be ready to discuss performance metrics and business analytics that matter most (revenue, profit and loss, etc.). Have a good idea of where you stand within the larger organization, and be able to prove the value of your contributions. You should also be taking full responsibility for your failures. Adopt a “no excuses” mentality that shows a level of self-awareness that is inherent to great leadership.
Do what you say you will and do it well. Once you commit to something, commit to doing it well. Execs are looking for someone with a good track record of getting the job done and bringing in positive results. Those who can take on small projects and hit a home run are more likely to be asked to take on bigger projects later.
Continually train yourself to think strategically. The best leaders know how to balance working “on” the business (strategy) with working “in” the business (day-to-day operations). They must be able to look beyond to-do lists and see the picture—which opportunities will help the organization strategically reach its larger goals. This a muscle that needs to be exercised with practice—it doesn't always come naturally.
Challenge old ways and find new solutions. If your organization is forward-thinking, all ideas should be welcome, particularly if you present them with humility and an appreciation for past efforts. The next time you have an innovative solution to a difficult problem, share it openly to show what you have to contribute. Those who challenge the current process and communicate the possibilities of a different solution get noticed, and gain more responsibilities.
Consistently improve your communication skills. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you do need to be thoughtful during your interactions with others. Whether for a presentation, group project work, or difficult conversations with your boss, it’s important to know your audience, prepare in advance, be adaptable, project confidence or humility when appropriate, have data to support your points, and make sure you clearly understand others expectations.
Build relationships with people throughout the company. Don’t just stay within your “wing” of the building—look for opportunities to connect and collaborate with other key players in your organization. Build connections that expand your network of allies, increase your visibility, influence and cross-functionality, and your name will keep coming up for all the right reasons.
Live the values and purpose of the organization. Organizations use purpose and value statements to communicate what is and isn’t expected of employees. A strong leader knows and lives the values and encourages the same in others. The best way to show your commitment to your company’s purpose and values is to talk about them—in meetings, give kudos to colleagues whose actions align with your organization’s values, and when discussing projects of your own, note how they reflect the company’s core purpose.
Raise your hand. Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities to show your skills and talents. While you don’t want to push too hard, showing initiative is always a good thing. If you believe you can be an asset to the company and support strategic initiatives in a specific area, ask to participate. Explain why you believe you can make a valuable contribution, as well as what you will gain from the opportunity. Sometimes you’ve got to identify where you can accomplish the most to your boss or your boss's boss and ask for it.
There is no short path to getting noticed. But if you focus on these ten key areas with dedication, patience, and the acceptance that growing a stellar career takes time, you’ll keep moving in the right direction and be ready for what’s next when it comes. Read the full article on hbr.org.