As I mentioned in the post on motivating and managing your co-workers (see here for more: How to Motivate Your Co-Workers the Right Way), you also should consider motivating and managing your boss. Although your boss is the “boss” they are just human and if you have real grand plans for your career or you just want to stay employed for as long as possible, your boss and the impression they have on others can impact you and your career, too – for better or for worse.
To help this be for better it is important that you have a good relationship with your boss. If you are part of a large team of reports for said boss, you do not want to be the “kiss up” - you want to be respectful and have a good relationship without being a "yes" person or someone who is so over the top that you cannot even stomach yourself. I have seen these types of employees and they are fooling no one – not even themselves. It makes the good boss uncomfortable or triggers a bad boss to be worse either to all others or to the kiss up. I have shared a blog before on “bad” bosses in the sense of really listening to your gut when accepting a job offer and making sure the culture fits your needs and style.
Managers feel the same way about you and their other employees in terms of trying to leverage great direct reports to boost their own careers. That is, if you have a motivated manager. If your manager is NOT motivated, your path to promotion will take different turns.
For motivated managers, you can share the path with them and work together on moving both of you or your whole team up the ladder. Sometimes this works great but it can also be harder to move many people vs just one or a few. A motivated manager is going to be looking out for their team and focused on the opportunities that can make all of them shine and help them all on their way to career growth, in a perfect world. Sometimes, though, your manager is so closely linked to you that you are a "package" deal and if you and your manager are ultimately too close in the hierarchy of your company, there might not be any place for you to go promotion-wise. In other words, there is no place for you to go unless you were to leapfrog your boss.
A truly great boss might be on board with this and potentially help you do it. That is rare, though. You truly need to manage your career and your manager’s career while being respectful. For instance, never trash your manager. It is just not done. Loyalty and teamwork are important. You should never throw your manager under the bus because no one will want to work with you if they think you will do the same to them. (Blogger's Note: This does not include re unethical and/or illegal activities - in the event that your manager is involved in something unethical or illegal, there are whistle-blower laws for just that purpose.)
If you are lucky enough to have a motivated manager, know and understand the corporate hierarchy and help your manager shine while hopefully getting some of that shine to be on you, too.
If you are not lucky enough to have a good or motivated manager, then you need to be truly proactive and entrepreneurial while never throwing shade at your manager. It is a much more complicated process – but it can be done. If you want to stay at the company you are at, you can focus on doing a great job and helping your manager make the right moves as best you can. Do not become responsible for your manager but if you can encourage them to be more proactive and/or to be motivated, it can help you in the long run.
If you can move diagonally into another department with a motivated manager, that would be great but to do this you need to do a great job in the role you have.
If you decide to move on to another company due to the issues of not being able to move on and upwards because of your management, know that this type of issue can follow you as not everyone wants to have career growth and more responsibility. If this is something you want, you should learn to build teaching relationships and try to motivate and help others in their career, which will help you do the same for yours. You can learn to do this by reading my book, The Prof’s Guide to Entrepreneur-ING, for sale here on my site or via Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Profs-Guide-Entrepreneur-ing-Entrepreneurial-Business/dp/1530084474/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8.
What do you think about how to motivate your boss? Have you ever had to do this? How did it go? Are you planning your career now? Have you ever tried to plan your career before? Happy Hunting!
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Lisa Vento Nielsen