By Gale Bowman
It’s no secret that members of Generation Y yearn for achievement and recognition, and thanks to the Internet, obtaining results quickly has become a way of life. These two defining characteristics help explain why many young professionals just like you strive to excel at their job and get promoted.
While it’s not realistic that you’ll always be promoted as quickly as you hope, there are some tactics you can use to improve your chances. Below are three tips you can follow to add value at work and get promoted faster.
1. Be proactive and maintain a sense of urgency
Being proactive and working with a sense of urgency are corporate buzz words that come up often during performance reviews. It’s best to know about them before you’re hit with feedback that you haven’t excelled at one or both.
According to Wikipedia, proactive behavior is defined as “anticipatory, change-oriented, and self-initiated behavior in the work place.” While satisfying your basic job roles and responsibilities is important, you must go above and beyond to join the ranks of outstanding employees. Look for ways to expand upon projects you’ve already crossed off your list of goals, or kick off and lead a new initiative that‘s beneficial to your organization.
Focus on opportunities that impact the company’s bottom line, as you’ll get even more visibility when your side projects generate extra revenue or help your company cut costs. Most importantly, don’t wait to be told to do this – take initiative and demonstrate your leadership and management skills to prove you’re head of the curve.
What about a sense of urgency? Urgency is defined as “compelling immediate action or attention.” It would be impossible to give every project your immediate attention, so it’s easier to master this concept when you think of sense of urgency as the opposite of complacency. In other words, make sure you’re getting valuable work done and don’t get stuck in a rut where you spend time on so many small tasks that you have little or nothing to show for it.
Another way to display an appropriate sense of urgency is to communicate often with your manager, sharing details and upcoming deadline dates only about your most urgent projects. Not only do you have a higher likelihood of completing a project when you vocalize your deadline, you’ll also display an aptitude for completing valuable work. This should hopefully win you points with your manager (assuming you actually complete these projects when you say you will!)
2. Enhance your visibility within the organization
A promotion is granted when an individual not only goes above and beyond required job duties, but when others know about it. Promoting yourself in a positive light takes practice and finesse, but it’s an essential skill to learn in order to move your career along.
You may have a boss that is very adept at communicating your value more broadly throughout the organization. If this is the case, you’re in good hands! Be sure to continually share your successes with your boss so that the information can be passed along.
If you have a boss that isn’t as inclined to spread the word, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands. When you’ve led a successful project or won your company a new account, send an informative email to your boss and any senior leaders in the company that would benefit from the news. Briefly describe what was achieved as well as any key takeaways that could help others with similar work in the future. Also thank anyone that helped you achieve this success and be sure to copy these individuals on the email.
When you frame your “self-promotion” note in this manner, you communicate that you’ve led a successful, results-driven initiative, but you aren’t necessarily shouting, “Hey, look at me, look at me!” which could be perceived as off-putting.
Another way to enhance your visibility is to identify one or two individuals that you don’t work with directly but that could benefit from your skills and experience. Offering to help with or lead a project for a senior leader from another team could earn you enhanced visibility in the overall organization if you’re able to add value in a unique way. Be sure to maintain your relationships with these individuals over time, as they may become influential in providing feedback to your boss that could serve as supporting evidence for a promotion in the future.
3. Use your time efficiently
In her book, “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College,” career guru Alexandra Levit states, “you must manage your time strategically if you want your efforts to translate into personal fulfillment and career advancement.”
Figuring out how to pack more value into your day without working crazy hours is a critical part of learning the corporate ropes. The key is to spend as much time as possible achieving career development goals that you formalized with your manager as well as the extra work you’re doing to be proactive.
Here are some tips you can use on a daily basis to make sure your time at work is efficient:
Set a weekly agenda in which you list several to do’s that relate to your goals or extra proactive work. You’ll likely have other administrative tasks and fire drills come up, but your weekly agenda should never focus solely on those items that don’t contribute to your visibility or an appropriate sense of urgency. Refer to your list of development goals as you develop this agenda each week.
Observe “prime time” hours at the beginning of each day in which you work on valuable projects. Block off your calendar so you aren’t pulled into meetings and let everyone on your team know that you prefer not to be disturbed during this time each day. Perhaps you can suggest that your entire team block off the first hour and a half of each day in this manner. Starting your day with something valuable (and hopefully enjoyable) will kick start a productive day. If you have other obligations in the morning, anytime during the day could work.
Don’t check your e-mail more than two or three times a day. Turn off the automatic alerts in Outlook so you won’t be tempted to continue the very inefficient habit of responding to everything right away. Select two or three thirty minute blocks of time that are convenient for you. This is when you should devote all your time and energy to reading and responding to emails. It’s best to wait until after your prime time hours to check email for the first time.
Get rid of unimportant tasks. You’re probably asked to do all kinds of stuff, some of which is valuable and some of which means nothing. If you can, start pushing back on the unimportant requests you get. If you can cross several mundane items off your list, you’ll have more time to add value to the company.
Working hard and implementing these tactics to enhance your visibility and increase the value of your contributions should go a long way in helping you get promoted more quickly. The final thing to remember is to stay positive and never give others a chance to perceive you as whiny, disenchanted, or downright angry. Nothing can kill the potential for a promotion like a negative attitude can – good luck!
Other great reads:
Is it Possible Frontline Employees Don’t Understand Service?
Overtime Pay Blues
Work at Home: Move Ahead
Work at Home: Make It Work for You
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