Have you been waiting for someone to notice your “greatness?” Often times in business we wait for someone to give us permission to move ahead in our careers. We wait for our manager to notice how hard we are working and then we expect that he or she will have the fabulous idea to promote us. Here’s a tip – your manager is probably focused on his/her own career growth and probably isn’t thinking about yours. When managers don’t have the same thoughts about our careers as we do, we start to blame them for not advancing our careers. “It’s my manager’s fault because he/she doesn’t see how hard I’m working.”
I’m going to share a secret with you – no one is coming to save you. No one is going to advance your career except you. In order for you to have the career growth you envision, you are going to have to take matters into your own hands. For some this will be more difficult than for others. Below you will find 8 Vital Steps to help you accomplish this. The steps include setting your vision, taking action, implementing your plan and learning from your results.
Step #1 – Know what you want.
What are your career goals (short and long term)? What are you trying to achieve in the moment? Is there an open role at your company that you have been eyeing? Is there a role that you want to create that doesn’t exist yet? I’ve seen colleagues create new roles (usually including promotions!) and then convince the company of why it needs him/her in this newly created role – and it works! Is there another department that you have been wanting to move into? Perhaps you are in Finance but have always dreamed of being in Marketing. Write all of this down – this makes it more real, more than just a fleeting fantasy. Feel solid in your foundation of what you want and why you want this change.
Step #2 – Know the value you are bringing to the company.
This will be one of the most important aspects of getting to the next step in your career journey. Many professionals act as if a company owes them something for the time and effort they put into their jobs. The company does owe them something – the paycheck they receive each month. That’s it. A company doesn’t owe you anything more than that. So, it’s up to you to realize the value that you are bringing to the company every day. Do you have your MBA? Do you have many years of experience? Do you have a skill set that is difficult to find? Are your analytical insights top notch? Are you a whiz at Excel? Are your social media and digital skills far beyond your colleagues’ skills? Start to really think about this because it will be your biggest “selling” point in getting to the next level. Don’t make it “all about ME” and what the company can do for you. As I said above, they are already giving you a paycheck, why should they consider you for a change in what you are already doing well? What is the company’s motivation to do this for you? How can you bring additional value to the company?
Step #3 – Set up appointments to meet with Human Resources and your line manager.
Excellent companies have an ongoing dialog with their employees about the career paths they are seeking – but the majority of companies do not do this. If your company doesn’t offer this on a regular basis then take matters into your own hands. Be proactive. (Who wouldn’t want someone proactive on their team?) Set up time to speak with your current manager and Human Resources about your career aspirations and where you would like to grow within the company. Listen to their feedback and what you may need to do to get there. This is also a great time to find out what the company’s future vision is. Perhaps there are new roles opening up in the next fiscal year.
Step #4 – Set up a time to chat with the hiring manager.
If the hiring manager for the role you want is not your current manager, then be proactive again and set up a time to meet with this person to get their input on what they are seeking for this particular role. Even if the role isn’t open, you can still set up this meeting to prepare yourself and be ready for when the role may open up. Or you may be able to convince the company that they need an additional person in this particular role in order to grow profits. If you can show how this will grow the company’s profits, you are on the road to “yes.”
Step #5 – Be professional.
You may feel that you’ve been with the company for a long time and know the HR team, your manager, etc. well and may make the mistake of being too laid back about these conversations. Don’t have an impromptu meeting about your career growth at a company picnic, bowling tournament or Christmas party; however, this is an excellent opportunity to say, “I’d like to set a meeting with you next time we are in the office.” Having a career conversation at a party or picnic is sending a message that you aren’t taking yourself seriously. Additionally, there is a big difference between being assertive and being annoying. Keep it professional and keep doing your current job to the best of your abilities. The rest will fall into place.
Step #6 – Listen and learn from the experience.
If you don’t receive the answer you are seeking in that moment, do not take it as a personal rejection. Perhaps this experience is putting you in a position for growth in the next few months. Perhaps the company sees you now as a value-added professional and will consider you for the next promotion that comes up. We never know what our actions will result in; but we know we must take action. If you didn’t do all the above steps and just stayed in your current job, then that would be your continued fate.
Step #7 – Know your own worth.
This will help you to have the confidence to implement the above plan of action. If you are constantly worried about what your manager, your colleagues or your peers will “think” of you if you do something bold, you will set yourself up to fail. Believe in your vision, your plan of action and march forward with it with the utmost confidence.
Step #8 – Use this experience as a stepping stone to your own professional growth.
What did you learn? What can you make adjustments and improve on? What are your results showing you? We are all scientists in a lab – go back to the drawing board and look at how it played out. The best-case scenario is that you get the role you are seeking! And if doesn’t happen in this moment, it may happen very shortly.
If you feel unsure of any of these steps, or not confident enough to implement them, you may want to consider seeking out a coach to help you work through these steps until you feel confident enough to move forward with your plan of action. Coaching is the latest trend today and nearly all of the highest paid professionals have a career coach. Coaches can see your blind spots where you cannot. Studies have shown that having a coach increases your accountability, motivates you and will identify areas which you need to work on.
Overall, the bottom line is that you will now be regarded in new light by your company, peers and yourself – as a confident, proactive professional who is seeking career growth, who took matters into your own hands and who will most likely walk out of the office with that promotion!
My mom always has great advice, she says “The squeaky wheel get the grease.” You are in control of your career. Use these steps to set your vision, take action, implement your plan and learn from your results. Now, go get squeaky!