Back to School, Moving Up

September means back to school for many families, but for those of you in the working world I have a quick quiz. Think fast, True or False:

_____ Working hard and doing your job are the best ways to get ahead.

In our Mannersmith Professional Protocol seminars we always catch participants who believe this statement to be true. But it is not... This statement is completely false. Working hard and doing your job are why you receive your paycheck. To be eligible for promotion, you need to position yourself properly. Not sure what this means? Here are our top ten tips:

  1. Create Perception ~ Make sure you look the part. Dress for the job you want. Keep your work area neat and clean. Arrive early, stay late. Respond in a timely manner. Deliver on promises.
  2. Behave Better ~ Everything you say and do reflects on your professional persona. Be sure your actions communicate "polished professional." Imagine your every interaction being captured on video. Act accordingly.
  3. Read Cultural Landscapes ~ Understand what is valued in your office. Who are the stars, who is being promoted, who has the VP's ear? Know the organizational chart as well as those who have personal power in your office.
  4. Be the Answer ~ Look for issues at work that need resolution. From the kitchen fridge than needs emptying to the giant software conversion, helping to make things better identifies you as a problem solver.
  5. Move Beyond the Safety of Your Desk ~ While you need not be friends with everyone in the office, you should understand the importance of being friendly. Ask about weekends, hobbies, interests. This way, when you do need to work together, the relationship will be there and the interaction will be comfortable.
  6. Cross Boundaries ~ Take the time to know people from other departments. Understand how your job impacts them.
  7. Follow in Footsteps ~ Look for mentors and ask about their career paths. Know what options you have for promotion based upon your current position. Know your next steps.
  8. Replace Yourself ~ Be sure to train a potential replacement. There are times when managers do not promote great employees due to the time, hassle and stress of having to train a replacement. Being "irreplaceable" can hold you back.
  9. Next Stop, Knowledge ~ There is always something new to learn in your field. Take the time to take classes and attend conferences so that your skills remain up to date.
  10. Build Professional Networks ~ Know others in your field. Look for mentors, make connections, take on leadership roles. Your next stop may be in another organization before returning to your original company.
Still not sure what it takes to be promoted? Then you had better ask. From your manager, to human resources, to those in the position you target, to mentors, there is always someone with knowledge and information to share.

Lesson One: You are responsible for your own career path, start by playing an active role!