Your boss’s boss

Your boss advocates for you and supports your career development. But he likely still has to get the approval of his boss for your pay increases and developmental opportunities. To better understand your role in the organization and advance in your career, it can be helpful to establish your own relationship with your boss’s boss.

Here is some tips on how to get to know your boss’s boss:

  • Interact. Greet your boss’s boss when you see him/her. But make sure to be polite and appropriate, don’t seem to be pushy.
  • Reach out. Communicate with your boss’s boss when opportunities arise; for example, send a congratulatory email if he/she gets a promotion or award. Make the email personal, not a gimmick to show off to your fellow colleague.
  • Ask for advice. Get your boss’s okay to email his boss (copying your manager on the message) to ask for advice. For instance, maybe you’d like suggestions on courses you’re thinking of taking or professional organizations you’re considering joining. Make your own boss look good in these emails by writing something like, “Michael thought you’d have some good ideas about this.” For example, ask for honest feedback.
  • Extend invitations. If you’re giving a presentation or your boss is leading an important meeting, ask your boss if it’s okay to invite his boss.
  • Pass along praise. If you receive praise from a customer or other key stakeholder, send it along to your boss. Your manager will likely pass it along to his boss, since your success makes your boss look good too. This is what I called ‘shared success’.
  • Volunteer for a cross-functional team. Leading or taking part in a cross-functional effort helps you contribute to the larger organization—and that makes you more visible to your boss’s boss.
  • Fix a problem. Find a way to make an improvement that furthers your organization’s goals or supports a core value. Share the results with your boss and his boss.

Categories: Personal Development

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