“There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.”
~ George Shinn ~
Client Dena Asks: In their book, The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, James Citrin and Richard Smith concluded that, “People with extraordinary careers do not claw their way to the top, they are carried there.”Where can I get the support I need to help me reach my career goals?
Coach Joel Answers: Support from others is a valuable commodity in any situation, but it’s a necessity when you navigate the corporate landscape. Without it, you risk being stuck in your current position indefinitely, overlooked for promotion and passed by others who are well connected and better supported.
How can you find others to help “carry” you?
Cultivate and take advantage of these five key resources:
Supporters show an interest in you and your career and invest the time to explain what it takes to advance within the company and get the job you want. They help you get ahead by providing resources, insights and knowledge. They also serve as role models for top-notch executive behavior and presence. Supporters can provide feedback, criteria and expectations to help guide you along a clear path toward success.
A confidant is someone with whom you are comfortable disclosing information about your experiences at work. Because these discussions often involve fears, frustrations and your innermost doubts and concerns, a confidant must be completely trustworthy. This kind of trust takes time to develop, but it starts with taking risks and being willing to share. Confidants are there to listen, to provide honest feedback and to support you as you face major challenges.
Like a supporter, a mentor provides specific information and guidance to help you improve your performance and productivity. You will, however, have a closer relationship with a mentor. This individual will take a personal interest in your career and play a more active role in helping you meet your goals for advancement and professional success. To ensure your mentor is unbiased, it’s helpful if he or she comes from a different department.
The difference between mentors and advocates is a matter of degree. Both can provide feedback, information and encouragement. However, a mentor will not necessarily get directly involved in promoting your career. Advocates, on the other hand, will actively champion your cause to their peers (and even supervisors) in the company. Advocates encourage your growth and challenge you to reach higher levels. They know your key accomplishments and are acutely aware of your potential for future success. Armed with this information, advocates campaign on your behalf, create visibility with senior management and directly assist you in advancing up the organization.
5. Executive Coaches
In addition to supporters, mentors and advocates, another effective source of support is the executive coach. Executive coaches are to business professionals what master musicians are to aspiring performers: they guide the thriving careers of their clients to help them reach the peak of their abilities. Executive coaches have the expertise, techniques and tools to assist you in achieving what you most want in half the time. They provide honest and objective third party feedback and help you develop the skills and mindset you need to move beyond limitations, resistance and self-doubt.
They can help carry you to the top.
The obvious goal in seeking supporters, mentors, and advocates is to secure help with professional development and future promotions. But the underlying objective is to form alliances with those peers and superiors who want the best for you. In the process, they will encourage your growth and challenge you to reach higher levels within the company.
Are you building a support team to help you get ahead at work? Start by hiring a top-notch executive coach. Joel Garfinkle can create a cusomized executive coaching program that is tailored to helping you reach your goals.
Talkback: Have you started building your support team? Who will help carry you to the top?
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“Financial rewards follow accomplishment; they don’t precede it.”
~ Harry F. Banks ~
A client of mine, Lance, has been with his company for ten years. He works hard and gets his work done. Management knows he is consistent, reliable, and loyal. They’re happy with the status quo. Unfortunately, my client is not.
He is ready to make the change. He’s tired of being taken for granted. He wants to get paid appropriately and get promoted. So he must overcome his current perception as a “reliable workhorse.”
If you’re like Lance, you can’t just hope that you’ll get the reward down the road for all your hard work. Instead, you must take control of your career and stop hiding out.
Here are some tips to get you started if you’re not sure how to go about getting a promotion at work:
1. Make a list of all the things you accomplished in the last year.
For each accomplishment, try to assign a dollar amount on how it benefited the company. That way you’ll be able to prove your worth during your next performance evaluation or salary review.
2. Proclaim your achieved results.
If you get good results and your clients like your work, it’s important to spend time proclaiming the achieved results. Even if it takes longer to document the results so the key people in management see what it took to get the results (effort, steps, process, details, etc.), they will appreciate who you are and what you have accomplished. The key is to not wish for more recognition, but to start being an incredible advocate for yourself.
3. Make your results more perceivable.
Your results will become evident when they are communicated in an easily understood way. The more the break down the result into its many parts, the perceived value will be seen as higher.
4. Know how you are being perceived.
Every time you communicate, think about how are you will be perceived – in meetings I attend, emails I create, conference calls, interact with client or upper management.
5. Be seen as a valuable resource and get others to appreciate what you do.
Your company needs to know all the things you do and how each accomplishment provides something that benefits the company. If they don’t see the value in what you are doing when you communicate it, it isn’t relevant. The more they know, the more they appreciate the work you do.
6. Stop perpetuating the perception management has of you.
Make a list of how you are currently being perceived by top management and your peers. For each negative perception, write down how you would like to be viewed. Then, carefully monitor your behavior at work to make sure you are reinforcing the positive traits, while deemphasizing the negative ones.
7. Educate your management about what you do and what your position is in the company.
Often management just sees your position as a commodity that is replaceable. They take what you do for granted. Educate management about how valuable your position is and all the things you do in making your job work as well as it does. As you educate them, they will begin to alter how they view the entire position (e.g. marketing, sales, programmer, and project manager) of what you do.
8. Become a communication expert.
Communication skills are one of the most important skills considered when determining who will be hired or promoted. Joining Toastmasters is a good way to improve your communication skills and get used to addressing groups of people with confidence.
9. Constantly think about how management will value what you just did.
How will management value this? How will management hear this so they will recognize it contributes to the bottom line?
10. Stretch yourself to be different so you stand out.
Management is used to you being who you are. Stretch yourself in ways that can impact perception. If you are used to being quiet at meetings, speak up. If you speak up at meetings, hold back and only speak when you have something really important to say.
11. Get clients to share how great you are.
When you do something positive for a client, ask them to speak up on your behalf by writing what they appreciate and then sharing this with your management. You can explain how management isn’t fully aware of the work you are doing so it would be good for them to know what you did. If you can do this 4-6 times a year, it will start to influence how management views you.
If you’re ready to start working on that next promotion but aren’t sure how to proceed, Joel has a coaching program that can help. Sign up for Joel’s coaching for career advancement and implement the techniques Joel teaches to accelerate your career growth.
Talkback: Is it time for you to move up to the next level in your career? What steps will you take to make it happen?
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“To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides. One of the fortunate aspects of this formula is that, granted the right career has been found, the hard work takes care of itself. Then hard work is not hard work at all.”
~ Mark Sullivan ~
Client Christopher Asks: I’ve been at my job for about three years now. I thought I’d just be happy in this position. I mean, I like my job and all. But I’m finding it’s getting a pretty boring. I realize I’d like a more of a challenge. But I have no idea how to figure out this career advancement process. What does it take to get a more fulfilling job? How do I even start?
Coach Joel Answers: Good question, Christopher. To help you get started on your search for career and job advancement, you need to make some decisions. These choices will help you find your direction and open the path to a better job.
1. What is your career goal? I know that might be hard to answer, as you thought you had it solved. But now, take a moment and look at what gives you satisfaction.
- Which parts of your job to you enjoy most?
- As you look around you, which jobs to other people have that you think you would enjoy doing?
- Are there salary goals you have?
- Are there certain kinds of responsibilities and actions you enjoy doing?
All of these are clues to what your career goal might be.
2. What skills will you need? After you choose a career goal, Christopher, you need to understand the skills, education, and training necessary to advance to that job. The bureau of Labor Statistics offers an Occupational Outlook Handbook that lists thousands of jobs and the criteria for them.
One additional benefit is that it predicts whether the need for that specialty will be increasing or decreasing in the coming years. As you think about your career goal and the training necessary to help you advance, this can be a good source for you.
3. Where can you find the training? Once you’ve chosen the career you want, and you know the skills you need, where will you get them? Consider looking for them exactly where you are.
- Your company may offer the training you need. It might be through mentoring or other traditional or non-structured learning at work. Especially if you’re looking to advance in your company, this is a best first choice. You’ll learn the skills most desired by your organization.
- College classes or degrees may be preferred if you are looking to move a great deal higher in your company.
- Coaching is a valuable option to hone in on skills – analytical thinking, problem solving, decision making, team building, and other skills essential for success.
4. How can you promote your job advancement? Once you know where you want to go with your career and job advancement, you need to take steps to make it happen. Assess how much help you might get from your current employer. Ask for feedback on your current job, and let them know what your goals are. They may help you work into that job. If not, hone your skills, develop your talents, and search for a job in another market.
Christopher, many people want to move ahead in their career and just aren’t sure how to get started. If you follow this plan, you can soon feel comfortable that your career and job advancement is on track to success.
For more information about how to advance your career with personalized and individualized coaching, contact Joel.
Talkback: What steps have you taken to advance your career? How did you start out?
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“You were hired because you met expectations; you will be promoted if you can exceed them.”
~ Saji Ijiyemi ~
Denise has been a team leader for an IT company for the past year. Now she wants to move up.
“I had my eye on the manager’s position. I knew he was thinking about relocating to be near his sick dad,” Denise said. “I wanted that job, but I wanted to make sure I knew how to ask for the job promotion the right way.
Denise stepped back a little so she’d have the greatest chance of success.
1. Evaluate Yourself: “I stopped to evaluate how well I was doing as a team leader,” Denise said. She looked at her past reviews to see if she’d made the improvements suggested and met the company goals for her. Had she given value to the company?
2. Observe the Job You Want: Then she started looking more carefully at the manager’s job. What exactly did he do? “I saw he had much more responsibility moving the project to completion,” Denise said. “I started looking at all the factors that led to this—how he scheduled meetings, how he interacted with the team leaders. I looked at the paperwork he processed and the hours he kept.”
3. Act the Part: “Then, to the best I could, I tried on the job,” Denise said. “I put in the hours he did. I tried to connect with my team and motivate them in an effective way to help our numbers improve.” To her best ability—without stepping on anyone’s toes—Denise acted the part of the manager. She volunteered to take on some of his responsibilities.
4. Prepare your Benefits: Now Denise needed to prepare her presentation. She gathered the data that showed her value to the company. She listed the successes of her team. She got feedback on her performance from peers, subordinates, and bosses. “If I was going to ask for the job promotion, I needed to be prepared,” Denise said.
“I went one step further,” Denise said. “I wanted to be sure I asked for a competitive pay rate, if I got the job. So I researched Salary.com to see the range of salary I might expect.”
5. Set up the meeting: Denise didn’t want to just walk into her boss to discuss the promotion. She asked for a meeting. She wanted his undivided attention. She knew he was grumpy before his second cup of coffee, so she tried to schedule it later in the morning. “I told him I wanted to discuss my performance and benefit to the company,” Denise said.
6. Sell Yourself: You are not there to beg for a promotion. Your job is to convince your boss, the company will get so much value for you they will want to offer you the job promotion.
Have your facts and figures lined up. “I have a hard time tooting my own horn,” Denise said. “So I really tried to have everything laid out visually so the work would speak for itself.”
7. Back-up Plan: For Denise, her plan worked and she got the promotion. But she had a back-up plan. “I decided if they said no, I’d ask what I needed to do to be qualified for that promotion or another one,” Denise said. “What was holding me back, and what skills or abilities did I need to have so the next time I came and asked, I’d be successful.”
Like Denise, once you know how to ask for a job promotion, you can start taking the steps to that next job. Be confident your skills and abilities match the job you want. Then go in and ask for that promotion.
Call to Action: If you want that new promotion, but need a coach to walk you through these steps to insure you’re totally qualified, contact Joel.
Talkback: Have you asked for a job promotion? What things helped you the most?
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“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”
~ Abraham Maslow ~
Client Sylvia Asks: I want to get promoted. I even see the job I’d like to get. But I don’t know how to position myself so that I’ll be the natural choice for that promotion.
Coach Joel Answers: Sylvia, almost every company has a succession planning model in place. They identify the skills needed for each job. Then they look at potential employees and evaluate them based on those essential skills.
When you understand how the succession planning model works, you can take advantage of that knowledge to help groom yourself for the next level.
1. Understand the demands of the job you want. You can look at the job and recognize some of the skills and competencies needed. Write them down. Look at what the current job holder has to do.
List his duties. What kinds of responsibilities does the job have? Next list the skills needed to do the job. Will you need great communication skills? Good decision making skills? Will you need to build a team, work in customer care, arbitrate, or give directions?
You do not have to create this list all by yourself. Likely the company already has a list in their succession planning materials. Discuss this with your supervisor or with HR to see what qualities they require in this job. You might do this at your annual review or you can request a time to talk to your boss about your aspirations.
2. Evaluate where you are now and where you need to be. Make a list of your skills and qualifications. Review your past jobs and look at the qualities you exhibited there.
Now match them to the list of skills needed for your ideal job. Where do you match up? Where do you come short?
Again, you will likely want to review this with your boss. You may be surprised to find that she does not see in you all the qualifications you see in yourself. She may also recognize competencies in you that you have not considered.
As you share with her your goals, see if you can get buy-in from her to support you in your aspirations for this job. It may be that she will add you to the organization’s succession planning model for that next position.
Even if that does not formally happen, you can still take the organization’s succession planning information to plot your own succession goals.
3. Obtain the needed competencies and skill sets. Now that you have the two lists, work to make them match. Fill in the gaps to make you the ideal candidate for the job.
You’re a step ahead because your boss knows your goals. You can study, get coaching, and join professional organizations on your own. But you’ll need assistance from your organization to cross train, find a mentor, or be placed on committees, teams, and task forces that will give you the skills you need.
By following the same plan the company does as they look at succession planning you model your career growth on this information as well. When your skills match their own standards for your dream job, you will become the natural choice to step into that position.
To define your personal succession plan and claim your next step up, contact Joel.
Talkback: Have you discussed your next step with your boss? How has the idea of succession planning helped you focus on the skills you must first acquire?
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