Work Hard and…Hope?

A few years ago a client told me the story of how she came to be a partner in her current consulting firm.

She had been with the firm her whole career, since graduating. She was great at her job, well respected and she worked really hard to please clients and her bosses.

As the years went by she progressed through the ranks of seniority. However for 3 years in a row she was “passed over” for partnership, while she watched others in the firm get the tap on the shoulder.

Eventually she got mightily peeved at the state of affairs and decided she had to resign.

Marching into her supervising partner’s office she delivered her carefully prepared speech on how disappointed she was to have given the best years of her career, and life, to the firm only to be ignored for promotion.

When she eventually stopped talking, she said her supervising partner (who had been sitting silently, listening to her diatribe) looked at her quizzically before saying “So, you’re telling me you actually want to be a partner of this firm? We had no idea.”

My client had been so busy doing all the things she believed would bring promotion, that she hadn’t focused on key elements required to progress – which included actually telling the relevant people that’s what she wanted!

She had been running the classic career strategy of “head down, bum up”, otherwise known as working hard and hoping she would get tapped on the shoulder.

Work Hard and KNOW

I shared this story with 30 professionals who recently attended my “Speak Up and Speak Out” workshop. There were many nodding heads when I asked the room “Could this happen to you too?”

My goal is to help you make sure it doesn’t.

I’m all for working hard – in fact, I’m one of the hardest workers I know! But there’s a difference when you do the things you know are required to get ahead in your career, rather than those you hope will get you there.

A Model For Success

In learning to be move from Insignificant to Influencer and take control over the success of your career, there are 3 key areas you should focus on.

It goes without saying that to be an Influencer in your field, you need excellent technical ability – the model below acknowledges and includes this (under Positioning) and also gives you steps beyond your technical expertise you should take to secure your future success.

Presence

Every thing you do, say and think reflects on how you are perceived. Create greater presence by doing the following:

·     Pay attention to the message you convey and ensure it reflects the way you want to be perceived.  You’re ultimately in control of that perception.

·     Make sure you are seen and heard in the right places (and for the right reasons). Get out from behind your desk and make connections that will serve you well.

·      Commit to becoming a master communicator – how well you are able to communicate has a large impact on your career success, as well as your everyday performance at work.

Positioning

Ensure you are positioned for success by doing the following:

·     Create a compelling profile (online and offline).

·     Foster strong personal and professional relationships (these are the lifeblood of your career).

·     Focus on becoming a top performer in your field, technically and by learning the other skills necessary to excel in your profession such as leadership and/or business development and sales skills where relevant.

Power

Step into your power and take ownership of your talents, strengths and skills. Consider doing the following:

·     Invest in your own personal and professional development (it’s YOUR career and ultimately it’s up to you to pursue the development you need).

·     Understand what makes you uniquely you by getting to grips with your talents, strengths and skills, and be able to articulate them easily.

·     Choose growth over comfort – the working landscape is changing rapidly – aim to be in front of the curve, not behind it.

To achieve the success in your career you want, you need to believe anything is possible. But it’s not enough just to believe. You have to reach out and grab the opportunities waiting for you – and sometimes you even have to go out there and create the opportunities yourself.

By focusing on more than just technical excellence, you are ultimately giving yourself the opportunity to move ahead faster and achieve greater career and personal satisfaction along the way.

Fiona