It’s not difficult to succeed in business - I’m often shocked by how little effort it takes to get promoted in most organizations. Here are my six tips for moving up the corporate ladder (even during an economic downturn):
1. Be a joiner
I started doing this early in my career and I’m still doing it today: I rarely turn down an opportunity to volunteer for the “fluffy” stuff at work. I’ve been on everything from the social committee to the United Way campaign team, and I have repeatedly “bowled for kid’s sake” and walked for JDRF. I like these types of activities because I get to meet new people and form relationships with like-minded individuals outside of my team.
2. Be a collaborator
A “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude may work if you’re Jack Welsh, but for most of us, being viewed as collaborative is the key to building your personal brand at the office. One of the skills that I’ve benefited from most in my career is the ability to influence others - no matter their rank and file.
3. Take the projects no one else wants
I’m currently in a role where I have lots of responsibility and very little authority - not an ideal position for a type-A like myself. I’m on an extremely high-profile project where everyone wants to be the queen bee and no one is interested in being a worker, so there’s been a lot of talk and not much action around this specific initiative.
I’ve been trying to position myself as a worker bee - I’ve been out there in the middle of it all, talking to senior managers and trying to get approval and buy-in for strategies tied to specific deliverables. Sometimes my job is more political than I’d like, but I get a lot of face time with decision-makers, and it’s paying off. Lately I’ve been getting credit for bringing order out of the chaos, and I’ve only been in this role for two months.
4. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty
The further I get into my career, the better I am at accessing my teammates and seeking out the ones who really get it. Buy-in from above is good, but one person can only do so much. The real trick to looking like a rock-star at the office is to get smart, hard-working peers to volunteer to be on your team. I have learned that the best way to get buy-in from those who really get things done is to be willing to work alongside them, which really just means helping ease their biggest pain points.
5. Be transparent
I make my goals and agenda crystal clear. I try not to get too bogged down in corporate politics and instead admit my fears and weaknesses up front. This bit of humility can go a long way to building relationship and trust.
6. Give praise and credit
In my first banking job I was nominated for a national ‘excellence in banking’ award. The CEO and several VPs in my region nominated me based my work with a few challenging trust clients. I never forgot how great it felt to be recognized by the senior management team and I try to do the same for the people I work with as I progress in my career. In the age of e-mail, a hand-written ‘thank-you’ note can be especially meaningful (this should be followed up with a note to the high-performer’s leader stating specifically what your teammate did to deserve praise).
Also, it should go without saying that you should never take credit for someone else’s intellectual propety. Being able to acknowledge the good work of another is a sign of a great leader.Stumble it!