You Can’t Move Up If You’re Stuck in Your Boss’s Shadow

May 9, 2015 - Picnic Time

Having a good trainer — someone who stands adult for you, who buffers we from interoffice politics, and who competently represents your organisation to a rest of a association — is a smashing thing. Except when it’s damaging to your career. If we aren’t manifest to others in a company, you’re doubtful to have a clever network, enhance your influence, and pierce adult in a organization. How do we come out from behind your boss’s shadow?

What a Experts Say
It used to be that a surest trail to career mass entailed “hitching your car to a star manager — as your trainer rose, we rose too,” says Priscilla Claman, a trainer of Career Strategies, a Boston-based consulting organisation and a writer to a HBR Guide to Getting a Right Job. Today, things are different. “Attaching yourself to someone who has a splendid destiny is not a best plan for removing ahead,” she says. For one, people change jobs some-more than they used to, that means we can’t envision where your trainer is going to finish up. For another, your association could change a government structure or change directions. “And your trainer might tumble out of favor,” Claman says. “The usually approach to tarry that is if we have relations opposite a classification and are seen as convincing on your own, not usually [someone] who’s ridden your boss’s coattails.”

Putting aside a worst-case scenario, being seen as usually your boss’s right-hand male can also be “detrimental to your career in a prolonged run since nobody though your trainer appreciates what we can do,” says Karen Dillon, coauthor of How Will You Measure Your Life? “You need others to know your value, and know where we fit in a organization.” After all, she points out: decisions on raises, promotions, and bonuses are frequency finished by your trainer alone. Here are some strategies for how to make that happen.

Recognize a problem
Even when we have a good attribute with your manager, it can still be a onslaught to make your mark. The problem is mostly that one, you’re not manifest to others in a association — maybe since your trainer does not give we open credit for your contributions — and two, we don’t have a vast adequate network on your own. A good litmus exam for last either we are in your boss’s shadows is to ask yourself: Can we name 3 people outward my dialect who know what we do and what I’m good at? You might have copiousness of surface-level relations with other folks during a office, though a symbol of a good network, according to Dillon, is “at slightest 3 people—at your spin and above—who can report your pursuit and a value we pierce to a organization.” Of march it’s also critical to know colleagues who lay underneath we on a org chart, though peers and comparison managers are typically “the ones who can lift we into engaging projects and open doors for you,” she says.

Ask your trainer for help
The best-placed chairman to boost your prominence during a association and enhance your network is your boss. So, make a request. Ask your manager to publicly commend your contributions during high-level meetings so that others will start to commend your value. And ask for assistance joining with colleagues opposite a organization. Preface a review by observant something like, “I adore operative with we and we wish to speak about how we can continue to grow and find opportunities to learn new things” and accommodate new people, says Dillon. By commencement this way, she says, “you’re practically saying, ‘I wish to paint you, though we also wish to enlarge my horizons.’” Then ask your boss, “Who should we get to know better?” And, “Who would be profitable for me to bond with?” “If we work for a vast company, ask your trainer to make an introduction — you’re looking for a blessing and endorsement,” she says. “Your trainer should wish we to rise your possess repute since that enhances his repute as well.”

Seek new and opposite opportunities
“If you’re noticed as a mini-me of your boss, we need to brand opportunities to compute yourself,” says Claman. Offer to assistance with a plan that will boost your bearing to new tools of a company. Serve on a concentration organisation to cruise a new businessman or advantage options. Volunteer for a cabinet that will embody people from other functions and departments. “If, for instance, we hear about a newly shaped charge force, tell your trainer we cruise it would be a good thought for we to paint your dialect on it.” Your trainer will be incompetent to spin we down if we proffer in a assembly where others have listened we volunteer, or if a ask is an critical executive priority, says Claman. To get your trainer to contend yes, “You have to uncover a value to your boss, your department, and your organization,” she says.

Speak adult in meetings
Expanding your relations during work and augmenting your communication with comparison government requires we to make accordant efforts to lift your profile. Ask your trainer if we can lay in on an critical assembly with higher-ups; ask a selling organisation if we can tab along on a sales call with a distinguished client. “Before a meeting, ask your trainer if there is anything he’d like we to prepare,” says Claman. And during a meeting, make yourself useful. “You’re there to learn,” she says. “Offer to take records and thereafter afterwards, discharge a records underneath your name.” Don’t miscarry your trainer and “don’t criticise what he’s saying, though demeanour for opportunities where we can carillon in and arrangement your believe and imagination in a approach that honestly enriches a conversation,” adds Dillon. Share your ideas. Offer your opinion. And use a “we” pronoun, she says. Your comments should “reflect a work we did with your boss.”

Socialize with your colleagues
If we wish colleagues to get to know we improved and to see we as your possess person, we need to put yourself in a accumulation of veteran and amicable situations. “Look for places where we can settle a personal tie with a people we work with,” says Claman. Take advantage of spontaneous opportunities — in a cafeteria, by a association softball league, or by a gift run. If your bureau doesn’t have munificent activities, cruise organizing one. At grave occasions, such as a association holiday celebration and a bureau picnic, we need to make a accordant bid to socialize. Even if these events are not your thing, it’s critical to go and “make it your mission” to bond with people outward your standard work orbit, says Dillon.

Be patient
“Sometimes a genuine universe moves some-more solemnly than we would like,” says Dillon. Establishing a repute eccentric of your trainer takes time.” If you’re feeling undone by a gait of your career and are disturbed about being perpetually in a shadows of your manager, ask yourself: Am we growing? Am we learning? Am we enjoying what I’m doing?

Principles to Remember


  • Ask your trainer to deliver we to others in a company
  • Volunteer for projects and committees that capacitate we to accommodate new colleagues and learn new skills
  • Make an bid to consort with coworkers and get to know people on a personal level


  • Be a wallflower in high-level meetings; demeanour for opportunities to arrangement your expertise
  • Be fearful to request for jobs and opportunities that would take we divided from your boss
  • Lose steer of a fact that substantiating your possess repute infrequently take longer than you’d like

Case Study #1: Volunteer your time and expertise
Laura Troyani had a good pursuit in selling investigate during a consumer products association in a Boston area. Her colleagues were professional, and her trainer — a conduct of a dialect — was a “great manager” whom she “learned a lot from.”

But a work — some-more advisory than approach selling — did not excite her and Laura knew her career trail would be singular if she simply followed in her boss’s footsteps. She felt in a shadows and knew she indispensable to not usually enhance her skillset though also to enlarge her network.

She took matters into her possess hands. Laura set adult a assembly with a personality of a broader selling team. “I told him that we desired a association and had some additional time on tip of a pursuit we was doing, thereafter asked if there were any side projects we could assistance out with.”

Her trainer sealed off and Laura started assisting out with a integrate of a selling group’s data-oriented projects, that complemented work she did in her primary role. Laura enjoyed a knowledge and by that shaped new veteran relations with a sales team.

In addition, Laura, a self-described “a healthy introvert” forced herself to attend in amicable activities during work. She played in a company’s softball joining and assimilated a dodgeball team.

A year later, after an inner restructuring, a position non-stop on a consumer selling organisation that called for someone with a quantitative background. Laura was a ideal fit. “It finished adult being a slam-dunk pursuit we unequivocally wanted,” she says.

Today she is a selling executive of TINYhr, a Seattle-based association that creates worker rendezvous software.

Case Study #2: Capitalize on opportunities to offer your ideas and insights
Connie Bentley left her career in training for a sales pursuit during a vast business services corporation. She excelled in a new purpose and was shortly promoted to district sales manager covering Connecticut and Massachusetts. But after 3 years, she had twice been upheld over for a informal manager job.

Connie’s trainer was a “good guy” with whom she had a “candid” relationship. “I asked him what we indispensable to do to be deliberate for informal manager and how we could pierce some-more value to a company.”

Scott’s recommendation was not quite helpful. “He told me that we already brought value to a association and that we indispensable to keep doing what we was doing,” she recalls.

Connie was dejected and deliberate quitting. “When you’re feeling stranded or in a shadows, we cruise a usually approach out is to leave a company,” she says.

But usually as she was starting to dirt off her resume, she was invited to a approval cooking for tip performers. Fortuitously, she was seated subsequent to a trainer of her division. He praised her for carrying finished good during a association and asked how a association helped make that happen.

Connie wanted to make a good impression, though she motionless to be respectfully frank. She told him that while a association had helped her progress, it could have finished a lot more. “I gave him some ideas:  a grave foot stay for rookie sales people, or a protected use sourroundings where they could learn-by-doing before going out on calls.”

Soon after that dinner, a multiplication trainer called her to ask if she’d be peaceful to pierce to New York City to turn a company’s initial sales training and growth manager. “I pronounced we wanted a job, though first, ‘Have we oral to my boss? And is he fine with this?’”

Scott sealed off on a move. Today Connie is formed in San Francisco as a US General Manager for Insights, a tellurian talent growth firm. “That pursuit got me into a margin where we belong,” she says.

source ⦿

More picnic ...

› tags: Picnic Time /