Sharmini Wainwright is managing director of Michael Page & Page Personnel Hong Kong. With over 13 years’ experience with PageGroup, she oversees specialist recruitment across finance, financial services, sales & marketing, legal and more.
Supervisors should set you up to succeed, but work for yourself to develop a career in Hong Kong
I read recently that career success relies on an employee working for their supervisor, not their company – because companies are never aware of who you are or what you do, but your supervisor is your spokesperson and benefits will come from making them look good. I understand the theory, but I have to admit that – despite being perfectly capable at my job – I do not get on very well with my direct supervisor. Part of me cringes at the thought of putting his best interests at heart over the company’s (as the two do not always match). Should I bite the bullet for the sake of potential career benefits down the line?
I agree with your observation that your supervisor is your spokesperson to senior management. In this respect, they do have a strong influence on your career. However, your supervisor also plays another critical role in your career: they should be the primary supporters and drivers of your development, and should help you to add value to your skill set. They should be on hand to give you guidance and coaching so that you are set up to succeed. After all, your success will make them look good.
However, this should not be the main reason that they support you. Many leaders are measured by the success of their teams, as well as the people they develop, and I would suggest you take some time to speak with your supervisor privately to understand his or her intentions and goals.
During this meeting, raise your challenges, and the support you might need from him or her, and then set an action plan. You might not have received the support you required previously because your supervisor was unaware of your struggles.
However, if you feel like things are not progressing after this session, I would suggest that you approach your HR team, or a senior leader in whom you feel comfortable confiding, for their advice. They may be able to find more options for you, such as a change in teams or an introduction to other mentors who could aid in your development.
If your internal explorations do not succeed, and you still feel like you are not learning and developing your career, then it may be time to look out for better opportunities.
When it comes to “putting your name out there” and getting recognition for your work, you have some control and are not totally reliant on your supervisor. It is just as important for you to network and build relationships with your colleagues. It is a highly valuable soft skill to develop, as your work will get noticed and people will remember you.
So don’t just rely on your supervisor – work for yourself as well.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Supervisors should set you up to succeed.