When attempting to climb the ladder in the corporate environment, we can often become discouraged when passed over for promotions. The key to success, however, is to stay focused on the long-term goal. Climbing the corporate ladder takes hard work and a little bit of timing and luck. The biggest mistake that most professionals make when they have their eye on a position above their current job is in not realizing how important their performance in that position can be.
Even if your present position is not where you plan on staying for long, it’s the first opportunity you will have to showcase your talents and abilities. Use the time in this position to build your worth. Find a way to increase productivity in your position as well as within the rest of your team or department. Make it a point to offer well thought out ideas pertaining to reducing overhead and be prepared to deal with all situations professionally.
One thing to remember is that employers are looking for leaders who are proactive and willing to go the extra mile. Rather than stepping up to take on the major products that will tie up a great deal of your time, you may be better off volunteering for the smaller, less visible tasks that no one else wants. When the opportunity arises to showcase your responsibilities, your list of accomplishments will be much longer than anyone else’s.
Keep in mind that ultimately it is every manager’s goal to groom someone to take their jobs, that’s how they prove their worth as well. Even if you don’t really like your boss, it’s important that you have a good relationship and he/she doesn’t see you as a threat. Make it your personal goal to make sure your department is successful. If you have the reputation of being knowledgeable, skilled and interested in the welfare of the entire organization, you’ll gain the attention of upper management. Be careful not to get too close to your boss on a personal level, however, if for any reason, he’s not popular in the company, you’ll be guilty by association.
Take the time to visit the Human Resources department in your organization. Having a friend or two in this department can provide a heads up in regards to upcoming opportunities. Let your Human Resource person know that you have long-term career goals and ask for their help in creating a long term plan. Quite often, this department will be able to give you advice on available training opportunities as well.
In any corporate environment, it’s important to have a mentor. Find a senior manager or director with a lot of experience and a strong network to discuss your goals with. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice in planning your strategy. Find out how he or she got where they are and make it a point to follow in their footsteps. Ask your mentor for help in identifying additional training and educational opportunities. Find out what publications they read and how they stay current on your industry. Take the time to read and stay knowledgeable on current issues that may affect your job or the future of your department and/or company.
While it’s sometimes difficult to be friends with everybody, it’s important to build strong relationships amongst your coworkers. Be polite, considerate and courteous to everyone. Take the time to let others know that you see and appreciate their contributions to the team. If you’re willing to acknowledge the work of others, you’ll gain their trust and respect. Be willing to train others to do the tasks you’re responsible for and to learn theirs. Be especially careful to avoid gossip and sharing your personal business with anyone at work.
Some people are just born leaders and it’s this personality type that upper management is looking for in their employees. Be quick to offer encouragement to co-workers. Recognizing special achievements and organizing office outings is a great way to show off your leadership qualities.
Remember that often people are passed over for promotions because they’re doing their job too well and their managers have been conditioned to believe that no one can do it the way they have. Being unwilling to share your responsibilities or groom others for your job will not make you more valuable in another position but will instead serve to keep you stuck where you’re at.
Appearance is extremely important and you never know when you might run into a senior level manager. Make sure you’re presentable at all times and follow company dress guidelines plus a little extra. If your work environment is casual, make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Having a sport coat handy is a great idea for impromptu and unexpected meetings. Most importantly, be patient. Letting your boss know when you’re ready for a promotion can be tricky and timing is important. If you’re always willing to take on additional responsibilities and have followed the guidelines above, you just may be surprised when they come to you instead of the other way around.