I labored in Corporate America full-time for twelve years in six jobs. Seem strange? It shouldn’t. I chose this path and more than quadrupled my salary. I gladly opted out of my thirty year retirement party, balloons and cake. I gained great raises, benefits and chances to love what I do. Despite hard economic times, recessions and many corporate failures; I got promoted five times. You can too.
Try these tips and move up quickly:
Study then “fit in” with your new environment. To be successful, your new colleagues and leadership must like you. People employ people like themselves. Getting that next promotion means leaving your individuality at the door (for a while) and putting your best foot forward. In fact, put THEIR best foot forward by quickly identifying the important people on your team and mirroring them. Dress like they dress. Work like they work. Play like they play. If they come in early and stay late, do the same. If the atmosphere’s fun and energetic, be more fun and energetic. Allow them to identify with and get comfortable with the part of you that’s similar to them. Nobody accepts strangers at first.
Integrate your true self and start building your “story”. Are they warming up to you yet? If so, slowly start showing them your personal style of work, dress, etc. Take the ways you muted yourself initially and let them begin to see your true self. Once comfortable with you, they’ll be more open to the unique qualities you bring. Open up and let them into your life. Share what makes you great and become more three dimensional in their eyes. In this step, go from “new employee that they enjoy” to “interesting new friend that works with them”. Use every opportunity to tell them about the great and wonderful experiences you’ve had. Figure out (for yourself first) your unique story and find ways to share it with your new colleagues in a way they’ll enjoy, appreciate you for and want to promote later.
Set up “your team” of allies. No championship can be won by one superstar alone – ask Michael Jordan or President Obama. Your upcoming success depends on the team you put in place to make things happen when in need. Success at work is all about relationships. Seek out specific “goodwill targets” early and win them over quickly with your charm, helpfulness and by making things happen for them first. At the very least, get in good with these people:
- The secretaries and assistants of leadership on your team. (They know everything)
- Key individuals reporting to leadership in each department you interact with regularly. (They hunger for success too)
- Your boss (your primary path to promotion is by always making him/her happy at all times)
Make an immediate impact and let others know about it, INDIRECTLY. You were hired for your potential contribution. Don’t make your new team wait until “you’ve settled in”. Show them the benefits of hiring you before they expect it. Find something big and blow their minds right now. These three circumstances could qualify as an “impactful” entrance.
- A major task that nobody wants to do.
- A major, measurable task that matters greatly to leadership.
- A major, measurable task that can also be done quickly with little involvement by others.
Hit the ground running by looking for problems that you hear co-workers sighing about. Make sure a doable goal can be set and progress can be tracked along the way. Accomplishing it on your own shows your initiative, drive and professional commitment to difficult tasks worth recognizing. You may lose some nights of sleep, but the reward will be great once completed. Most importantly, let your supporters know what you’re accomplishing. Learn how to brag a little, but never directly to leadership. Spread your message through those who’ll preach your successes. Word of mouth is far stronger than directly mentioning it.
Jemal Webb is a leading Independent Financial Asset Manager in Atlanta, building a community based on Abundance, Protection and Education.
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