Supervisor Can Help You
Climb the Corporate Ladder
By Kim Goff
Let’s face it. Times
are tough, and many industries are still experiencing cutbacks,
layoffs and salary freezes. That doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off
at work, however. It’s just as important – if not more important –
to make yourself a valuable resource and to try to move ahead with
your career, even if your options are limited.
To that end,
supervisors and managers can be a valuable resource when climbing
the corporate ladder, not just because they sign your paycheck or
approve that promotion, but because they can offer you valuable
knowledge; knowledge that can lead you toward career advancement
and a sense of fulfillment.
Your supervisor is a
great resource for you to learn about the history of your company,
how to improve your job performance and how to increase your chances
for promotion. Instead of avoiding, loathing or fearing your
supervisor, try to view her as someone who can help you advance your
Here are three ways
to utilize your supervisor as a resource:
1. Model their
If your supervisor is in the position you aspire to,
“model” them. That doesn’t mean to dress, walk or talk like them.
It means researching their rise and taking similar steps in your
quest. Finding out as much as you can about your supervisor’s climb
up the corporate ladder can provide you with a potential blueprint
for how you can achieve that same position.
When the time is
appropriate (such as lunch time or during an office party), get to
know your supervisor or manager better. Try to ask the following
What did they
major in? What type of degree do they hold?
Did they take any
specific on-the-job training?
What about their
work history - did they work different positions in the company
to get to where they are today? Was it one specific job that got
them where they are today or was it a progression of jobs?
If your supervisor
seems annoyed by these kind of questions, take a hint and do not
persist. You want to
learn from their professional experience, but back off if he or she
seems unwilling to share.
regularly – not just once a year:
Talking with your
supervisor about your progress and how you can improve your chances
for promotion can help you immensely. The majority of employees
dread the annual or semi-annual evaluation. Instead, use this review
to your advantage. Ask what he or she sees as your specific
strengths and weaknesses. Ask, “What can I do to improve my overall
job performance?” This eliminates any guesswork trying to figure out
what you can do to get that promotion. A good supervisor will always
be honest with you and tell you what you can do to improve your job
When a supervisor
informs you of your weaknesses in terms of job performance, don’t
take it as a harsh criticism. Be grateful for this type of
information; use it to forge ahead and show that you are eager to
improve. Treat your supervisor with
respect and show her you have the right skills and drive for
advancement. Good managers and supervisors want to see you
succeed! The more knowledgeable you are about performing your job
and improving your work performance, the more “noticeable” you will
become to your supervisor. When they are meeting with business
executives and leaders to discuss forthcoming promotions, YOU will
have a good chance of being one of those people nominated. Or, you
may be the first person they think of if a new position becomes
And don’t forget to
touch base with your manager or supervisor on a regular basis.
Yearly reviews aren’t enough in terms of communication. Go out of
your way to discuss ideas, business trends, company or department
improvements with your supervisor on a regular basis. By taking a
proactive step toward communicating in a positive, helpful way, you
can be the person that stands out in his or her mind when the time
comes for a promotion or raise.
Co-workers may also
be a reliable resource to you. They may not know specifics about the
supervisor you are trying to model, but they may know general
requirements expected or preferred for the type of job position you
Use your supervisor as a liaison to network with executives and
leaders in your company. Getting face time may sound shallow, but
people don’t really know you unless they meet you. E-mail is not
enough to create a solid networking relationship. Your supervisor
can introduce you to influential people (company leaders, industry
experts, important clients) who can help you in your career
advancement. Through your supervisor or manager, you can find out
about conferences and social events where you can start laying the
“groundwork” for beneficial relationships. Getting your name and
face out there will help influential people remember you.
Another way to make
network connections and get noticed is to volunteer for company
events. Always go to your supervisor first and ask permission to
participate in any volunteer activities within your company, and
make sure it does not disrupt your day-to-day business activities,
or make your supervisor’s job difficult.
Working with your supervisor instead of against him
or her can help you get ahead in your career. You should never fear
your supervisor or feel inferior. Use your supervisor’s knowledge
and experience to your advantage. You do not have to agree with his
or her personal ideas, laugh at their jokes or obey their every
command. However, you should show your supervisor the respect you
would want in return. By using your supervisor as a resource you can
gain the knowledge and connections you need to advance your career.
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