In today’s business world, many professionals work for “invisible” bosses. Technically, they know the boss exists in physical form somewhere…but they rarely have tangible evidence of this. For all intents and purposes, the boss is MIA. He or she is always traveling, attending out-of-office meetings or working from home. The boss may only cross paths in-person with a few team members a few times a month, making it hard to build a solid professional relationship. For the person working beneath this kind of boss, it can begin to feel like you’re the invisible one.
If your boss is MIA on a regular basis, you need to take certain steps to make yourself more visible and to build a strong relationship with him or her, even without the benefit of regular in-person interaction. Don’t worry; it’s definitely possible and it happens all the time. Thankfully, a few simple strategies, along with a few modern-day tech tools, will help ensure you can still get ahead in your career even when your boss is MIA.
Strategies for Visibility When Your Boss is MIA
- Schedule Regular Touch-Base Meetings
When you don’t see one another for long stretches of time, both you and your boss can lose sight of the big picture. Sure, you might reach out to your boss when you need something specific—like a decision or an answer to a question—but that’s not enough. You still need to have deeper conversations, where you discuss career goals, review your performance and create plans for the future.
These conversations should happen frequently, not just on an annual basis, and they don’t have to be done in-person. If your boss is MIA for an extended period of time, take the initiative to suggest having a video conference to touch-base on these big picture topics. Even a phone call will suffice if that’s the only option.
The important thing to remember is that these kinds of conversations shouldn’t be put on the backburner just because you’re not physically in the same office. Schedule meetings for once a month and be flexible about how they happen. Make it a priority to get in tune with one another on the big picture, not just on the details of the work itself.
Also read: How to Deal with an Unapproachable Boss
- Track and Share Accomplishments
Every day, you accomplish a lot of valuable work for the team and organization. But, when the boss is MIA, it’s easy for them to overlook your achievements. They aren’t there to see it for themselves or hear about it from colleagues. So, you have to take responsibility for making sure they know what you’ve done and the impact you’ve had.
Track your accomplishments each week using a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or good old fashioned paper and pen. This helps you gain clarity and ensures you’re capturing important details so you don’t forget. It also makes for a handy, quick reference tool so you can easily tell your boss what you’ve been working on whenever the opportunity arises.
Of course, you don’t want to wait for an engraved invitation to share these things. Instead, proactively share your accomplishments with your boss. Consider sending your updated accomplishments list each week via email, or take a few minutes on a check-in call to share something you’re especially proud of.
It’s important to do this regularly, particularly when your boss is MIA. He or she wants to know about your accomplishments, but they won’t always think to ask. If you don’t offer them up, your boss might never know about them.
Also read: How to Give Feedback to Your Boss
- Take Full Advantage of In-Person Time
Finally, if your boss is MIA frequently, it’s essential that you take full advantage of in-person time when you get it. Let’s be honest—there are some topics that are best left for face-to-face conversations. Keep a list of those things you want to discuss the next time your boss is in the office. When that happens, make sure you set an appointment on his or her calendar so you can have some uninterrupted time (but remember that others will want your boss’s time too so don’t be overly demanding).
Depending on how rare it is to see your boss, you may even want to suggest going to lunch or grabbing a coffee together as a way to simply deepen rapport and enjoy some more casual conversation away from the office.
It is, indeed, more difficult to make a name for yourself and get ahead in your career when your boss is MIA. However, it’s also a great opportunity to demonstrate your self-management skills. The ability to be successful without constant management is essential for professional advancement. But, you don’t want to be so autonomous that your boss has no idea what you’re doing or where you want to go next in your career. Follow the tactics described here and you’ll strike the perfect balance.