If you’re an ambitious professional, and you think you’re ready to take the next step up the career ladder, you may be eyeing up your boss’ job. It makes sense: it’s the natural step up. But as many of us know all too well, moving into your boss’s job role is rarely easy, and sometimes downright impossible due to organisational politics. In fact, a lack of career progression - often caused by a boss who is occupying the role you’d like to move into – is cited as the most common reason that employees quit their jobs.
So what should you do? Clearly, every organisation – and every boss - is different, so you may want to employ a range of strategies based on your individual situation. Here are some of our top tips if you’re angling after your boss’ job.
1 - Make your Ambitions Known
∎ Be clear about your ambitions to progress into a larger role: honesty is often the best policy
If no-one knows about your ambitions to move up, it’s unlikely you’ll be offered the opportunity up on a plate. Be clear about your ambitions to progress into a larger role (without being too specific if organisational politics makes this awkward).
It’s advised to discuss progression opportunities with your HR team as well as your immediate colleagues and, yes, your boss. The HR team plan for future vacancies; they will appreciate knowing about your leadership potential and will be encouraged to see longer term dedication to your company.
2 - Take Over (Some) Responsibility
∎ Show your commitment to the team, and make yourself the *obvious* hire when a job's available
Although it can be frustrating to feel like you’re putting in the hard work while your boss takes credit, the best strategy for promotion is to volunteer to take on more responsibility before it’s officially part of your role. Not only will this show you’re a committed team player, but when promotion opportunities arise, you’ll be a more obvious hire: you’ve already proved your competence in the role, after all. Start by offering to take on work that your boss may find tedious, or where you can add specific value – such as training in your area of expertise. Your boss will thank you, and you’ll prove capability of responsibility outside of your role.
3 - Consider Opportunities Elsewhere
∎ Looking around for a new employer, you may find a promotion opportunity elsewhere
Some of us may have better luck shooting for your boss’ job in a different organisation. If you can demonstrate you’re a high potential candidate, perhaps through over-achievement in your current role, you may be able to secure a promotion in a new organisation. You don’t have much to lose by looking around – if nothing else, it will give you interview practice and a better idea of what’s important to you in a role.
4 - Grow Your Own Team
∎ Create a whole new department of your very own and you'll automatically be a level up
Particularly one for faster growing companies. If a job at your boss’ level isn’t available, then create one! Put together a business case to hire more team members under you and demonstrate your management skills by to leading the team to success. In doing so, you’ll show initiative, and can mould a new leadership position to suit your ambition and skill set.
5 - Play the Long Game
∎ Bide your time, because patience is sometimes the only way up
Finally, be patient, and compassionate. Remember that your boss doesn’t have all the answers and isn't supposed to be 'better than you' at your job – their roles is to manage the team and bring everything together. Don’t take any rash action; build your network within your company and industry, and be committed and generous with your time and expertise. Eventually, you’ll reap the rewards.
If you’re an ambitious professional looking to move up the ranks, upload your CV apply for job vacancies to have a confidential discussion about your career aspirations.