“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau ~
Client Kevin Asks: I am so stuck in a rut with my present job—it feels like walking through quicksand. I know what the next step is, the promotion to the job I want but I’m so busy doing what the current job demands that I have no time to even plan a strategy for moving ahead. How can I get out of this swamp?
Coach Joel Answers: Unfortunately, many companies easily overlook the people who labor in silence, who do what it takes to get the job done, but never manage to get ahead. If you really want your paycheck and your job title to match your capabilities and the amount of work you do, you need to focus on creating visibility—and you need to be happy while you’re doing it. Appearances count for a lot, and you need to love the job you have while planning your next move. Here are three important steps you can take right now.
- Love the one you’re with
- Divide and conquer
- Create a new model
1. Love the one you’re with. I see you stressing out a lot because you don’t have the band-width or energy to do everything that’s on your plate right now. Before you can move ahead, you need to enjoy being where you are. Start having fun at it. A few things you can start doing today:
- Ask for positive feedback. Don’t wait for your annual review. Look at your current projects and ask your team members or your boss for some positive input. Focus only on what’s going well.
- Start the day on a high note. When you look at your current projects or to-do list, pick the most enjoyable item and start there. It will change the tone of your whole day by creating energy and enthusiasm.
- List your accomplishments. Once a week, write down everything you’ve accomplished—from small things to big projects. You’ll be amazed at what you’re getting done.
2. Divide and conquer. Even though you’re doing a great job now, what got you here won’t get you there. First, lay out all your current projects and responsibilities. Ask yourself what HAS to get done to continue your success at a base line level so you don’t create any red flags. You might have 1/3 that has to get done, 1/3 that relates to the job you want to have (visible stuff) and the other 1/3 is the stuff you might be able to get rid of, or put less time on. This will create more time and energy for new activities. Here’s the key to making delegation work: keep your name on key projects so you are getting some of the credit while not actually doing the work.
3. Create a new model. You need to show continuously visible productivity, or put plainly, work on the things that everyone sees. Make sure you understand your boss’s priorities and make them your priorities. Volunteer for high profile projects or new company initiatives. Speak up in meetings. Be enthusiastic and make sure everyone knows you’re happy to be part of the team. Call attention to your successes while sharing plenty of credit with those around you.
Keep your eye on the prize. You already know what your next career move looks like. Keep focusing on that. Ask yourself each day, “What did I do today that fits my new model? How did I move closer to my next dream job? Before long, you’ll be exactly where you want and deserve to be.
If you’re struggling to break out of the pack and move to the next level, contact Joel today for more strategies you can use to move to the next level.
Talkback: Are you stuck in a rut? Do you have some success strategies that have helped you break free? Share your experience here.
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“It is within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO.”
~ Martha Stewart ~
Lindsey is frustrated. She’s been with her company for several years now and she feels stuck. She’s not assigned to work on her department’s high visibility projects. Her boss ignores her in staff meetings. She is beginning to lose her edge. She’s considering looking for another position, but the job market is a scary place right now. Is there a way she can turn the job she has into the job she wants?
Lindsey shares her dilemma with some women in other companies and learns that they have used business coaches to help them move ahead at work. She gets some recommendations and starts working with an executive coach of her own. After a couple of coaching sessions, she begins to operate with a brand new business plan.
• Become the CEO of You, Inc.
• Play the role
• Ask for feedback
1. Become the CEO of You, Inc. Before Lindsey can become a CEO, she needs to treat herself like one. This means setting short and long term goals and conducting periodic self-evaluations to see how she’s doing. Her first month’s goal is to get assigned to her department’s next high profile project. She begins by drafting a memo to her boss outlining her past accomplishments and skills she knows are relevant to the project.
Acting like a CEO also means creating her own personal brand, an executive presence that shows off her unique skills and her contributions to the company’s success. Lindsey wants to be seen as someone who is both assertive and creative. She starts coming to staff meetings with notes on at least one important contribution she can make to the discussion.
2. Play the role. Writing in Business Leader, Thomas Walken says: “Women managers in traditional male organizations learn the good ol’ boy rules, but rely on their own strengths to become leaders. Taking risks, curbing maternal over-responsibility, and developing flexibility and confidence prevent derailment on the way to top CEO positions.”
In other words, executive presence doesn’t just happen. It must be designed, rehearsed, and constantly cultivated. Lindsey’s coach, who specializes in helping women move ahead in the workplace, recommends that she write down her negative feelings and beliefs about her current job situation. She can then find ways to flip those feelings into positive statements. For example, “My boss ignores me in staff meetings” could become “My performance gives my boss reasons to trust me and recognize my contributions.” Internalizing these positive statements helps Lindsey feel more confident in meetings and interactions with top managers.
3. Ask for feedback. One of the best ways to find out how you’re doing is to ask. Women in business sometimes have a difficult time speaking up for themselves for fear of appearing too aggressive. Thus the perception others have of them doesn’t fit with their true value. Lindsey’s coach suggests that she track her progress by getting feedback from a number of sources. She asks friends and family how they perceive her. After staff meetings, she asks a trusted colleague to evaluate her performance. And she keeps a file of positive comments she receives from clients and co-workers.
Three months after she started working with her coach, Lindsey’s whole world has started to change. She sees herself and her job differently, and now her boss and others in positions of authority perceive her differently as well.
Business coaching for women works. Contact Joel today to discuss the possibilities or call him at 510-339-3201.
Talkback: Are you feeling overlooked or ignored at work? Having trouble speaking up for yourself? Have you tried some techniques that helped you get noticed? Share your story here.
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“Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.”
~ Warren Buffett ~
What’s the one quality that can help you stand out in front of your co-workers and top management?
If you answered “branding,” you’re a step ahead of the rest. Branding yourself sets you apart from the competition and gets you noticed.
What does branding do for your career? Building a brand allows you to project yourself as the absolute best at what you do. This establishes you as an expert in your area of expertise, proving your worth to your organization.
You can start building your own brand to gain more visibility in three easy steps:
- Identify your strong qualities and what skills come easily to you.
You might have a knack for making presentations or perhaps your technical skills and know-how far surpass those of your colleagues. Letting people know what you are good at is the first step in building a brand that will get you noticed by your superiors.
- Don’t be afraid to tell senior management and your boss about your unique talents.
If you know you can handle a product launch presentation with confidence, volunteer to lead the team. Being proactive and letthing your boss know he or she can count on you is an important aspect of brand building.
- Establish yourself as the go-to person for a particular task.
Instead of being a Jack or Jill of all trades and known for none, build your brand to reflect 2-3 things you do extremely well. The more focused your skill sets, the more “expert” visibility you’ll gain.
Once you gain visibility, you need to keep track of your successes so you get the credit you deserve. To learn how to keep your peers from getting the credit you worked so hard for, read this guest blog post I wrote for Bret L. Simmons: Don’t Make Your Work Look Too Easy.
Brand building is just the first step to becoming more visible at work. If you seriously want to get ahead you need to build perception, visibility, and influence. The exact formula is revealed in my latest book. Order Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level now!