Dear Daily Slog,
‘I am based in the Dublin office of a multinational company but my direct manager is based in the U.S.
I am a mid-level manager, responsible for a team of five, who are also based in Dublin. We work well together but I am increasingly frustrated by reporting into someone who I rarely see. My previous manager was based here, and it was great to be able to drop by his desk to troubleshoot. He was also really strong on giving timely reviews and feedback.
My new manager made a big deal at the start about how accessible she would be to me and the team, and of course the company has the technology in place to make that possible.
The trouble seems to be largely out of sight, out of mind. She also leads a team at the U.S. office and at times I feel like we are seen as an inconsequential little team overseas that she can leave to run itself.
Any problem sent her way is largely met with a response about how larger U.S. projects need to be dealt with first, and regular one to one feedback just doesn’t happen. It is also hard to motivate my own team when they pick up on this lack of interest from the top.
Are there any tips you can provide about how to get onto her radar?’
Thank you very much for your email.
Working for a large multinational company can be a great experience and certainly has a lot to offer in terms of interesting projects and perspectives. But it has its challenges too, and what you describe is one of them.
I assume that the company’s headquarter is located in the U.S. and the Dublin office is probably the European or EMEA headquarter or similar. The challenge, therefore, is not only that your manager is not easily or personally accessible, but that her own manager (probably located in the U.S. as well) is also more focused on U.S. projects.
Important and globally significant decisions are probably largely made in the U.S. For managers in all regions to climb above a certain career level it is likely that they need to make themselves visible and meaningful to the U.S. global management.
It is therefore relatively clear that your manager will prioritise U.S. projects as you describe, because this is the area that is most visible and close to the U.S. upper management and therefore best suited to promote her own career success.
Extend your network on your own management level across regions. To find peers on your own level is often easier as they are more accessible and can help you understand the company, strategy and issues better
Now you are dealing with two issues that are also intertwined: one is that you are missing the feedback and guidance that you deserve to receive from your manager, and the recognition for your successful work in your region.
The other is that your direct reports have noticed that “lack of interest” of U.S. management in their regional projects and activities, which is demotivating them and makes it even more difficult for you to deliver success with your team.
Your question is how to get on your managers radar, so let’s start with this. Realistically, for reasons outlined above, I do not think great work on your behalf on your regional projects alone will do it. That is not a personal thing between you and your manager, it is just down to the structure of the company and everybody’s own best interests.
As a manager you already know that leadership and guidance should not only be offered, but also actively demanded.
With that in mind I would recommend to first extend your network on your own management level across regions and also in the U.S.
To find peers on your own level is often easier as they are more accessible and can help you understand the company, strategy and issues better and on a wider scale.
Extending your network to other regions, and importantly the U.S., can be helpful in three ways:
- You might be able to identify cross regional projects to work on that have a wider impact on the organisation and which could help to get you on the radar in the U.S.
- By connecting with more people and sharing your successes, initiatives and projects you can strengthen your reputation in the wider organisation.
- If you connect to people who are more easily accessible to you, but at the same time are better connected to your manager, you may be able to generate some quick wins with her.
But remember this – as a manager you already know that leadership and guidance should not only be offered, but also actively demanded.
Demanding feedback and guidance from your manager shows interest and involvement, so while you are working in the background to become more visible, do not forget to actively seek contact and feedback from your manager.
Just ensure that when you ask her for feedback or guidance, the subject is meaningful and relevant, both for you, her and the company.
Make clear to your team where they can contribute to overall company success and what would not be possible without their great work.
In order to generate the quick wins and longer term success I was talking about above, you will also have to tackle issue number two, which is the lack of motivation in your team and the impact on them of feeling that they are invisible to the global management team.
- Ensure that you praise your team where praise is due and forward on any praise you receive from your manager or other departments
- Explain the bigger picture to your team and involve them where you can. If they understand how the company is structured, what the strategy is and where the obstacles and opportunities lie, they will be more motivated and better able to generate success for the whole team, which will lead to higher motivation and confidence of their place within the wider organisation.
- Make clear where exactly they can contribute to overall company success and what would not be possible without their great work. Show how the work that your team has done in the past has improved overall processes and KPIs, and give clear and measurable examples where possible (e.g. “because you worked on the process improvement in area XYZ, this could be rolled out across regions and has now made the turnaround from A to B 10% quicker resulting in a global cost saving of 5% ..).
Encourage them, too, to actively demand feedback and guidance, so that you and your team can thrive.
I hope my reply was helpful to you and I wish you the best of luck!
Looking for career advice? Here are some more great articles from Ines:
About the Author
Ines Kretschmer is a Personal, Leadership and Executive Coach, based in Dublin. To book an appointment contact her on 087 414948 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a career issue you would like help with, email the details to us at email@example.com and we will source a suitable professional to help. All correspondence will be kept confidential.