Here’s how to advance in your career despite having an unsupportive manager at work
The first place we all look for an advocate is our immediate boss, the person who is closest to our work. A good advocate offers advice and mentorship while also shining a light on our potential — revealing capabilities that we may not know we have.
However, having a career-supporting advocate is an uncommon find in our direct managers. So, what should you do if you’re not one of the lucky ones with a powerful boss who supports you?
Use the following advice:
Create an advocacy team
Instead of having one person in your corner, consider putting together a team of people who can help you advance your career. Look for people whose careers are further along than yours and whose style or achievements you admire. It can help to write the qualities you want to develop and match them with a list of people who exhibit them. Being forced to assemble a group of advisers rather than having one great boss can be an advantage. If you’re too dependent on one person, you might fail to establish a resilient network and end up in the corporate abyss if your boss leaves the company.
Without your boss putting you in front of stakeholders, you need to find your own platform. Look for cross-functional or internal projects that will involve or be debriefed to stakeholders. If one doesn’t exist, propose a project that aligns with the corporate values or vision or that solves a stated need.
Find the influencers and offer to help
In every organisation, there are centres of influence, some of which may not map to positional power. When you determine who the influencers are in your work, make yourself helpful to them. Look at what you can offer them rather than just what they can give you.
Use positive outside pressure
Building your status outside the organisation can often gain you visibility inside it. Corporate leaders notice who is visible to customers, stakeholders, and the broader industry. Choose a way to do this that is genuinely interesting to you. You might decide to join an industry association and work toward holding a leadership position there. You can build a following on social media by demonstrating expertise and engaging with known thinkers in your field.