Your manager is your career management enemy

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Sep 08

If you were to look around to find your number one career management enemy, look no further than your manager. And given the amount of corporate churn, especially in Fortune 1000 firms, the probability of you having your manager as an enemy becomes more likely with each passing org chart change.

Here’s how your manager becomes your enemy:

  • Work assignments. Your manager is the person who assigns you the tasks and projects that become your accomplishment list. If you have no accomplishments, you are not as marketable to other managers, hurting your career. If you no longer get the good stuff to work on, your position in the organization has changed – for the worse.
  • Performance Reviews. You manager or management team determines the ratings, raises and bonuses. Rating you lower compared to others hurts your earnings and possibly your job security.
  • Promotions. If your manager won’t advocate for a promotion, you won’t get one. End of story.
  • Other positions. If you apply for another position within your company, one of the first things that happens is the manager of the other position will talk to your manager. If your manager won’t advocate for the position, you won’t get it. End of story.
  • Training. Your manager approves your training. If you want training to improve your skills – either in your field or adjacent to your skills – you need your manager’s approval. If you don’t get the approval, you will have a difficult time acquiring the skills needed in your next career step. Especially if you can’t hone those new skills through the work assignments your manager gives you.

Your manager is your career management enemy. Yes, there are fabulous managers out there and I’ve had a few. And there are benevolent managers out there who won’t outwardly harm your career.

But if you are doing your personal career management work and nothing is happening with your career, look at the person across the desk who gives you your review. You might be looking at your career management problem.

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Sun-tzu.

  • I agree, a great manager is worth his or her weight in gold and a bad manager can literally be a lead weight in your shoes.

    • Scot says:

      @Erika with Qvisory – A bad manager can essentially ruin your run with a company.

      I have been criticized a bit about calling managers enemies — and there are good ones who are not — but I don’t think the label is too extreme. A bad manager can be there at the exact time there are layoffs and decide you are history. Good history with the company? Good track record on the team? Team being productive and helping customers? Doesn’t matter; if your manager doesn’t agree with that, your manager will lay you off in a cold-blooded minute.

      That, in my book, is an enemy because they are threatening your economic existence and changing your life.

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