The old way of managing your career has been impacted by our new economy. We now have four generations in the workforce, people are switching jobs more regularly, and corporations are hiring from around the world, and even automating positions that were previously held by people. Your job, and everyone else’s, is at risk on a daily basis and if you aren’t account for your career, no one else will be. Gone are the days when you can sit back and get promoted as you age at your company. Gone are the days when your job is safe and your company is going to take care of you in retirement. In today’s world, you have to work much harder, be more strategic and go above and beyond what’s expected of you.
The new economy, and advances in technology, has created new rules for the workplace. Most professionals have an online presence, on Facebook, LinkedIn or various other networks. The status updates you post online can impact your reputation at work and technology has changed the nine-to-five workday into a 24/7 one. While the old economy was about information, in the new economy, connections are even more important. Every day, who you know is becoming more important than what you know because people can connect you to ideas, advice and resources like never before.
I’ve been both an employee and a manager, and have conducted over two dozen research studies to identify what managers are looking for when deciding whom to promote. I’ve spoken with over a thousand executives to discover what can make you stand out at work and how to go about developing a brand that will enable you to move up the corporate ladder and make more money as a result. Here are some of my best tips for getting ahead:
1. Become a great communicator. Through multiple surveys, I’ve discovered that communication skills are the most important when it comes to recruiting and promotions. If you want to be a successful manager, and eventually an executive, you have to be a great communicator and there’s no other way. With four generations at work, you will have to be able to adapt to different ways of communicating, from instant messaging, to text messaging to phone calls and even social networking. You can’t be afraid to start learning about how to most effectively use these vehicles because they are changing the way we do business. When you communicate, try to get your point across concisely because people don’t have much time to waste but need to know what to do at the same time.
2. Always have a positive attitude. Another theme that keeps coming up in my research is that people want to work with those who have a positive attitude. If you have a great attitude about your work environment, and your responsibilities, then people will want to work with you or for you. If you have a negative attitude, people will avoid and it will be harder to get work accomplished. This is why it’s so important now, than ever before, to position yourself so that you’re doing the right work for the right company.
3. Build relationships. The connections that you make at work are currency. If you want to build the largest network, then seek to help your co-workers with their projects without asking for anything in return. Do the work that they aren’t able to do and then they will want to reciprocate when you request support. Use your co-workers and managers to connect with more people across the organization. This will give you insight into what other departments are working on and you’ll be able to get your work done faster if you know who is responsible for certain tasks in your company.
4. Be active outside of the workplace. If you come home from work and then start watching TV for the rest of the night, you’re missing a major opportunity to get ahead at work. The associations you join, and the events you go to, outside of the office can help your reputation, increase your network and give you the knowledge required to get to the next phase of your career journey. Find the right industry organizations, associations and networking events in your city and attend them. Before those events, do research on who is attending the event and make a list of the top five people you want to me. While you’re at the event, spend the whole time with those five people if you can so you maximize your time and build the strongest relationships with the right people.
5. Have an intrapreneurial spirit. Today’s managers need to take risks and think like entrepreneurs if they want their company to become innovative and exciting. As an entrepreneurial manager, you and your subordinates can find new opportunities that your company can take advantage of or ways to improve current services or processes. Allow your employees to come up with ideas and freely present them to you. This way, your team can expand their responsibilities, possibly your headcount, and gain more prestige at the company. What this also does is make your employees more eager to work for you and you to form stronger relationships with them as a result of their idea sharing.
6. Make your boss’s job easier. The best way to get ahead, expand your role, and eventually get promoted to the next level, is to make your boss more successful. When your manager passes on work to you, you should always take it on. Even before your manager asks for your support, you should notice when they are stressed and you should always try to lend a hand. When you do this, your manager will depend on you, give you more responsibilities and when they move up the ladder, they will bring you up with them. Naturally the best person to fill their previous role is you if you position yourself right and already start to do their work.
7. Adapt to change. Since business is happening every second of every day and new technologies are constantly surfacing, managers have to be able to adapt. Your group might merge with another or your responsibilities might shift without much notice. You must have a positive attitude and react quickly when they change happens. Your management will want to see that you can handle yourself, be accountable and make decisions quickly.
8. Become more visible. Your management needs to know what you and your team is working on and what you’ve accomplished. You should attach yourself to big corporate initiatives that have a lot of visibility so that you can build a stronger reputation at work and more departments will know what you’re capabilities are. If people don’t know you, then they can’t connect with you and bring you into larger projects. Always be an advocate for your team and get your name out there.
9. Delegate responsibilities. Let’s face it, you can’t do everything and if you try, you won’t be able to give each individual project your full attention. It’s far better to delegate tasks that you don’t have time for to your subordinates so that you can focus on the larger picture. It’s the only way you’ll grow in your company and the best way for your employees to build stronger careers.
10. Hire the right people. In today’s business world, the focus has been on corporate culture and talent, more so than ever before. If you want to generate results in your group, then you must hire the right people that you know will fit in and be productive from day one. Make sure when you interview candidates that the team gets to speak with them because they will be spending more time with them than with you. During the interview, make sure that you talk about the culture and expectations. When you do that, you end up hiring the right people who will stay with you longer.