🌼10 Ways to Increase Your Chances and Get More Opportunities at Work(CLASSIC)
The two main currencies at work are performance and connections.
“If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson was almost right. While capabilities and performance are essential, the world will not know about you without an effective network. Without a network, you will find it hard to grow and expand.
You, not the world, need to forge the path to your door.
The two main currencies at work are performance and connections. You need to work on both currencies to get more opportunities, get promoted faster, and achieve success at work.
Most people do what they are told to do. Most people are reactive and do not have a clear path to where they are heading. And most people are not interested in numbers except when they impact their bonuses. They are not interested in how the company is doing and how much value it delivers to its clients.
But you are not like most people; you are proactive and intentional. You want to build skills, provide value, and build a professional network. You want sponsors to help you get promoted and achieve the success you want and deserve.
The truth is no one cares more about your career development than you. Why should you let others, who are less invested in your success, decide or impact your career path (s)?
Here are some tips or observations I learned as I evolved in my career and am still applying as an entrepreneur. They may not apply to every situation, but I hope you can find some that can help you in your specific situation.
1. Do the exciting and the mundane
“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have seen people refusing to do things because they think it is not part of their job description. Indeed, you must focus on the tasks that bring the most value to your team and company. Yet, sometimes there is no way around doing the grueling and mundane.
I have seen star performers taking meeting notes, sharing action items, and following up.
By doing the grueling and mundane, you show ownership and grit. Both add to your performance currency.
2. Be reliable — get things done
If your team, your boss, and people collaborating with you or depending on your work cannot rely on you, you will not go far.
You need to be reliable through the value you provide, your work ethic, and your commitments.
Reliability builds trust. And people want to work with people they can trust, promote people they can trust, and follow a leader they can trust.
3. Be helpful — make it easy for your team and your manager
“It’s not about how tough you are. It’s not about how smart you are. It’s not about how fast you are. If you want to be an elite warrior, you better get really, really good at helping the person to the left of you and helping the person to the right of you.” ― Simon Sinek
When you help others, they want to help you in return. When you need a performance review, a testimonial, or a reference letter, the colleagues you helped will be most happy to return the favor.
Think of ways to make it easier for your team and boss to do their job.
Will a wiki page make it easier for new joiners to onboard? Will creating a dashboard for key metrics your boss needs to report to his bosses make it easier for her?
The Journal of Management Studies reported in 2009 that team members in diverse groups were less likely to help others in the group. As diversity becomes more critical to the success of any organization, getting out of your way to help others will benefit you and your team.
Be the exception. Be helpful.
4. Manage your commitments
“I am easily satisfied with the very best.” ― Winston Churchill
You want to give your very best.
Underpromise and overdeliver is one lousy piece of advice. I never liked it, but everyone seems to give it and believe it. This strategy puts you on the defensive and makes you complacent.
Over promising and delivering are what you should be doing.
The key is not to overcommit.
As a junior developer saying yes to every opportunity and ending up with burnout, I learned I could only manage my commitments, not my time. This realization was an aha moment.
You cannot manage time, but you can manage your commitments.
Your integrity is measured by how you manage and follow through on your commitments, not by what you say.
Review your commitments often, commit to the few important and deliver them well.
5. Communicate proactively — Ho-Ren-So
Being proactive means you don’t wait for opportunities; you create them. It means that you are focused on the current tasks while anticipating future needs. You are thinking a step or two ahead.
There is a Japanese concept that I apply at work, which is Ho-Ren-So. This concept translates as “report, inform, and consult.” It underpins all communication, collaboration, and healthy information sharing in a Japanese organization.
Ho-Ren-So emphasizes the importance of sharing information, reporting issues sooner, and seeking help. It helps streamline the flow of information and minimize or prevent issues from happening.
You should check in often with your team, manager, clients, or anyone with whom you want to build a professional relationship.
Communicate often through different mediums such as one-on-one, town halls, email, and dinners.
Being a proactive communicator is even more critical in a remote-work environment.
6. Be intentional and intelligent about building relationships
The right network gives you access to diverse skill sets, private information, and power. The right sponsor can make it much easier for you to get promoted faster. They will bet on you, and you need that to advance your career, especially for senior roles.
When you find people you want to build relationships with, you must find ways to intersect with them. The more they meet you, the more they feel they know you.
The frequency of touch is important.
Many companies create opportunities to meet people. Take advantage of these venues to learn about the senior leadership and how they forged their path. You need to engage in mentoring programs, join fireside chats with leaders and executives, attend town halls and ask questions.
Be intentional. Be memorable.
7. Think in terms of pathways
“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Do you know why you want to get promoted? Ask three levels of WHYs. Do you know the requirements and responsibilities of the role you want to be promoted to or the opportunity you seek? Are you already doing the work that a person in that role is supposed to be doing?
When thinking about career paths, people usually envision one path based on their current role or capabilities.
Pathways thinking is a balance between WHAT and WHO. What to do to get there and who to reach out to help you get there faster.
Do not limit yourself to only one path; instead, think about the capabilities you want to build and create pathways to get there.
I have seen a salesperson become an astute developer, an engineer become COO, and a start lawyer become a writer and an entrepreneur.
Remember, there are many paths to reach a goal. But without knowing where you want to go, any path will get you there, which is nowhere.
8. Push back — know when to say no with grace and style
Sometimes, you need to know how to push back diplomatically and respectfully. It means you need to be assertive and use the right phrases.
I have been there.
People will go directly to you to help them solve their problems. Learn to push back when needed and keep your team and manager in the loop.
You want to deliver on your commitments.
9. Keep track of your achievements
You need to keep track of your achievements. We tend to forget the details as we get caught up in day-to-day activities.
Keeping track of your accomplishments is a way to see your progress over time and help you decide how to proceed.
Say you want a pay raise; you must be able to justify it. Start preparing in advance. Take detailed notes of what you have been doing that you think warrants higher pay. It is almost impossible to remember every detail or sieve through emails two weeks before a review.
A list of assignments and achievements will also come in handy when updating your resume.
10 . Know your competitive advantage
“There are plenty of pretty voices with nothing to say. Do you have something to say?” ― Mr. V., CODA.
Everyone can learn programming, maths, and digital marketing, but no one can be you. Understand what makes you unique, how you are distinguished, and what you bring to the table. It might be the thing that makes you win a business, a project, or a raise.
Many people dont know what their competitive advantage is. Knowing yours will set you apart.
Your competitive advantage can be a skill or a combination of skills others do not have. You may have a network that others don’t have or a unique experience.
I have seen people shine because they have the skills to automate tasks in a non-IT environment.
No matter what you do, you have something to say. Find it, and use it to your advantage.
Bonus — Bring everyone to the win
Be liberal with the praise and the use of We.
If you want to learn more about the network currency, please watch Carla Haris’s TED video. She has been a great mentor to me through her books and talks.
Bonus — Know the numbers
Are you clear about the company’s goals and how they relate to its mission?
Do you know how your company makes money? What value does it create that translates into revenue?
Do you know how your team contributes to the flow of value?
My advice is to understand the flow of value, how the company makes money, what value it provides, and how your team influence that value delivery.
Understand the cost of delivering that value and how much your team is contributing to that cost.
You do not even need to know how to read financial statements. Yet, that will be a good plus.
My 10 tips to increase your chances and get more opportunities at work:
Do the exciting and the mundane
Be reliable — get things done
Be helpful — make it easy for your team and your manager
Manage your commitments
Proactive communication, or Ho-Ren-So
Think in terms of pathways
Push back — know when to say no with grace and style
Be intentional and intelligent about building relationships
Keep track of your achievements
Know your competitive advantage
Bonus — Bring everyone to the win
Bonus — Know the numbers
I feel blessed that I have had many mentors, bosses, and colleagues who helped me grow, trusted me with responsibilities and had faith in me.
I have learned and used most of these tips to progress in my career. They have served me well. Some, I am still learning to master.
I hope you find some of them helpful.
Thank you for reading.
CONTRIBUTED BY Hairej Younes
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