Managing Your Career by Analyzing Your Circles of Influence

A big part of starting a new job is getting to know the key players who will influence your career. This isn’t always obvious. They may or may not be on the organization’s leadership chart. Some may even be clients.

So how do you know who they are?

Every three months, review a list of your bosses, peers, subordinates and clients.

“Bosses” are people at a higher level who can influence your career. These include your boss and your boss’s boss, perhaps some of your boss’s peers, and maybe even one or two people outside of your organization who are in influential positions.

When looking at this list, ask yourself, “What does this person think of me, and what should they think of me?” For example, if one of your bosses forgets you had extensive marketing experience before you took this job, you should remind them of this. The same goes if you have been working 70 hours a week on an important project. Make sure they know.

A key part of this is your Eight-Word Message. This is a brief, punchy way to communicate your worth so that if you run into a boss in an elevator you can quickly slip it into the conversation, however brief the encounter may be.

With your peers, you want to ask yourself the same thing: “What is my relationship with each of them and what should it be?” Make the effort to reach out to them, engage with them in a social setting or just through casual chitchat in the office.

In addition to reviewing your relationships with your bosses and peers, also make a list of your “subordinates” (those at a lower level than you in the organization). Take the time to ask yourself if you treat your subordinates well. Do they complain about you to their bosses?

Reviewing these lists each quarter helps give you better footing within your organization and will help guide you on the next steps of your career.

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