Recently, I came across an interview with career counselor and author Stephen Pollan. In the Forbes article, Pollan offers several pieces of helpful career advice. But the one that resonated with me the most was the importance of recognizing that you work for your supervisor, not your company.
“The person you report to is your spokesperson and your connection to your employer. You’ve got to become your own propagandist — and you do that through your supervisor.
If your supervisor wants somebody to take on responsibility at work, you’ve got to look like you’re protecting his back and front. That’s your most important job. Then you’ll get recognition.”
I had never considered this before, but Pollan is absolutely right.
Most junior employees don’t interact with senior employees often. Even in a small office, your reach might only extend to your supervisor’s supervisor. The people at the top of the office hierarchy, usually the people you want to impress and interact with the most, are the people who you will see the least. You don’t often see the Member or the CEO having lengthy chats with the interns or junior staff, do you?
For the people at the top of the food chain to hear about you, the stories (good or bad) have to climb the ladder. Especially working for a larger company, the impact of your work is muted by the size of the organization. Making your supervisor look good and ensuring that they see you in a positive light is essential to ensuring that the people higher up in the company see you as an asset.
So if you want the people at the top to notice you, you need to focus on keeping your immediate supervisor happy because she is the first rung of the ladder that leads you to the top. And her opinion will determine whether the news making its way to the corner office is positive or negative.