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How to capture the attention of your boss's boss

By Thea Watson, Marketing Director of Hays UK & I and UK Board member

There are often managers or directors within your organisation that you want to be noticed by, like your boss’s boss. However, due to their seniority, they are just a little too far out of reach when it comes to building a relationship with them. Below you can read more about how to build this vital rapport, as the lessons learned from their experiences can be beneficial within your own personal career journey.

As an experienced senior leader, your boss’s boss could teach you some valuable lessons about their own journey to career success. From a more practical perspective, they will also often have the final say on the decisions which could propel your career forward, from approving your attendance on a training course, to granting you more responsibility within your role or getting that well-deserved promotion.

Of course, when developing a relationship with your boss’ boss, there’s a fine line to tread, and you have to be tactful. After all, you don’t want to undermine your immediate boss and damage this important relationship. At the same time, if you want to progress your career within this organisation, you really need their boss to have a positive opinion of you and your abilities.

Develop a good rapport with your immediate colleagues and seniors

Your current boss has a closer connection with their boss, and from time to time, the two of them will discuss your performance, a discussion which will rely heavily on your boss’s input. Therefore make sure the two of you have a good relationship, whereby you strive to meet their expectations and ask for constructive feedback on where you could improve in your role.

When considering your performance your boss will also factor in how much you collaborate with your team. If you work in isolation of everyone else, you will harm the productivity and dynamic of the team, and your boss is sure to notice. As such, you need to maintain an open and communicative relationship with your colleagues, helping them when needed and also asking for their insights and expertise.

Start conversations

Understandably, you may be feeling slightly intimidated by your boss’s boss, especially if you haven’t spoken to them much in the past. Start off by looking out for openings to make small polite exchanges, such as a cursory “hello, how are you” as you pass in the corridor, or offering to make them a tea or coffee if you are both working late in the office.

As your confidence builds, share your ideas or questions with them at opportune moments, for instance if they are giving a departmental update and open the floor for questions at the end. The key here is to keep an eye out for chances to start building a professional rapport. Stay mindful of their seniority and be aware that any overly familiar exchanges may just harm your progress. Use your common sense to judge where the boundaries are, and strike the right balance between friendly and professional.

Sell yourself

Build your expert reputation within your organisation through some tactful self-promotion.

Talk to your current boss about the opportunities available for sharing your expertise, for instance; starting a blog, offering to speak at events, or presenting to their boss at company meetings and so forth. You can also build your reputation by offering internal training sessions or offering to train new starters. In doing so, you will be able to establish yourself as the “go-to” person for a certain area of expertise within your organisation, an accolade which should get fed back to your boss’s boss.

Branch out and strategize

Whilst being known as an expert in a specific area is important when getting noticed by your boss’s boss, remember to think beyond the demands of your immediate role and towards the strategic direction of the team and business.

As Hays CEO Alistair Cox states in one of his blogs: “Thinking big means breaking out of silos”. Therefore, show an interest in other areas of the business, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the current objectives and challenges to the business as a whole, and be proactive in suggesting your own ideas. Your boss’s boss will notice somebody who understands that they are part of a wider business strategy, and can break out of the confines of their role to contribute to this strategy.

Getting noticed by your boss’s boss is, for the most part, about building your relationship with your current boss and team, whilst developing a reputation as an expert but also as a big picture thinker within your organisation. It is a delicate situation to navigate and it will take time, tact and patience. However, once you have this key person on side, then they, alongside your current boss, can support you as you progress your career.

If you are looking for support with your employment needs please contact your local office.

About this author

Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016.

Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.

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