We can sometimes feel that the challenges of the workplace are too great and we look for an escape. Perhaps we opt out because we don’t believe we can get ahead. Ambitious women can step up and take control of their success. Here are some things you need to do and need to avoid doing to get ahead.
Take the time to think strategically about your career. Managing your career means looking to the future to establish short and long term career goals. Where do you want to go and what experience and resources do you need to get there? Have a discussion with your boss to get input on your potential career path so that your boss can understand your ambition and can provide feedback and support. Creating a strategic plan for your career supports your success.
Your value proposition is the unique way you do your work that results in positive business outcomes. Understanding the value you bring to the business is the key to authentic and effective self promotion. It allows you to position yourself across the organization as someone who can help others achieve their goals. It helps you create mutually beneficial relationships of trust and influence when you know what you can offer others. Communicating your value proposition in this way positions you as someone who contributes to the company’s success.
Most people understand the importance of networking. However, very few realize the benefit of a strategic network. Successful people build strategic networks: networks of people who are willing and able to speak for them, who understand their value proposition. Start with your career goal and then identify people you know or who you need to know to help you reach that goal. Step out of your comfort zone and seek out the people who can help you advance.
Create visibility for yourself by seeking opportunities to be in front of senior management. Look for high profile projects where you can add value. Talk about your accomplishments and those of your team. Self promotion is a leadership skill when you leverage the results of your work across the organization. Positioning yourself as someone who can help others with different initiatives creates not only visibility but the credibility you need to succeed.
Successful people know that it takes a village to build a great career. It’s not enough to have a lot of contacts in your network. Quality matters more than quantity. Once you identify the “right” people who have impact over your future, reach out to them and find some commonality. Look for ways that you can help them achieve their goals. Pay it forward and when you need to turn to your contacts for something, they are willing to step up on your behalf.
Taking on extra work or the work of others can sabotage our advancement. You run the risk of being perceived as someone who is always busy doing things, but not necessarily someone with leadership potential. You can get buried in invisible work that doesn’t benefit your career. It’s important to know when to delegate and empower your team to step up so that you can spend more time thinking strategically about the best way to leverage the positive results of your work across the organization.
Research shows that the more diverse your network, the more effective it is for your career. There is a direct correlation between a diverse network and faster promotions and higher salaries. In a diverse network, your contacts don’t know each other. This open network of contacts provides you with greater exposure. It’s important to stretch outside your comfort zone and build a network of people who support your career goal. You may or may not know them. Seek people who will have an impact and look to others to introduce you and open up doors.
There’s nothing wrong with being nice to your colleagues and coworkers. It’s good to be likeable. That being said, you can be “too nice” and thereby not viewed as having leadership potential. What to do? It’s important to set clear expectations and boundaries and hold people accountable. Savvy women know when to balance this with a more nurturing approach when appropriate. If you lean too far in one direction or the other, you either lose your credibility or you turn people off.
One of the biggest pet peeves I hear from women is that others (especially men) take credit for their great ideas or achievements. Don’t let that happen. If you have an idea or initiative you want to present at a meeting, meet with influencers beforehand and let them know what you are trying to achieve. Build consensus around your idea. If someone tries to grab the spotlight during a meeting and take credit, acknowledge that you appreciate their vote of confidence for your idea or the comment you brought up earlier.
According to The Center for Work Life Policy, 77 percent of women believe that their talent and hard work alone are enough to get ahead. The reality is that great performance only qualifies you for the promotion. It takes both great performance and political savvy to be successful in the workplace today. It’s important to know who has power and influence over your career and how decisions are made in your organization. What does it take for a woman to get promoted? What behavior is rewarded and what is not? You need to be savvy about how to position yourself for success given the reality of your workplace and you cannot avoid the politics or you risk being blindsided by it at some point in your career.
There are many ways to positively impact your career advancement. It begins with the mindset that it takes more than your hard work and talent. Your performance is very important but it only qualifies you for the promotion. Take the time to think strategically about where you want to go and put a plan in place to get there. Understand the workplace dynamics and reality of your organization so that you can position yourself effectively. Manage your reputation and leadership potential every day.
More expert advice about Managing Your Career as an Employee
Photo Credits: Business team working on project by Goodluz via BigStock; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com