These 5 tips will suit whether you are reading this as someone wanting to spring clean your career or as a manager wanting to understand how to sort the spring bulbs from the spring fluff. And spring is the time to look closely at your career.
The year feels like it is almost over and you might like to reflect on how well you are positioned now compared to your goals at the start of the year.
There is a reason that so few new year resolutions to make a career change work – and that’s because the start of the year has so many other things going on as well. If you really want to make 2014 your year then now is the time to start sowing the seeds.
That will be the last of the spring analogies.
My first tip is to get noticed for the right reasons.
Who do you associate with?
Be conscious of where you are seen and with whom. There is an old saying that “birds of a feather flock together” so if you want to be noticed as a dynamic professional, then you might need to consider where those people are and how you can be associated with them.
This tip is also about how you manage your real life and online profile. Personal branding is not just for the rich and famous. It is for everyone of us too. Be aware of what your reputation on and offline says about you.
Underpinning this tip is of course the fact that it is always good to be noticed for the good work you do and the contribution made around the business.
For the manager or business owner reading this – consider who in your team comes quickly to your mind, and why. Does a name come to you with positive or negative connotations and associations?
It’s only one of my five tips, but a big one.
Second tip is to put your hand up and volunteer to be part of projects. They are opportunities to build your skills, build your profile (yes back to Tip #1) help the business and really demonstrate your commitment.
Some years ago when I was working for a 10,000+ employee company I had put my hand up for a couple of small projects. They developed my skills, didn’t interfere with my core job and were a really good opportunity. One day we were at a large function centre for a “town hall” meeting of all staff in our Division (a couple of thousand people) when one of our really senior managers walked in. “Peter” was pretty social and said “hello” to just about every group of people he made eye contact with as he walked in to make his presentation. When he got to the group I was in he said “Hi Pam” and smiled to the others and walked on.
I was one of the few people he knew by name and only because one of the projects I had volunteered for was sponsored by him.
For the manager or business owner, someone who is willing to make suggestions and offer their help might want to be part of the solution and the ongoing success of your business. Take note of who puts their hand up – but don’t judge those who don’t because some of your team may be fully occupied with their current workload and you wouldn’t want them to take on a project to the detriment of their main job, would you?
Volunteering is a great thing to do at work and outside work too.
Tip number three is to deliver what you promise.
When you say you will do something, then do it. There may be times where something unexpected comes up and you are unable to meet your promise – be open and tell people who matter as soon as you know and aim to work out a solution.
We all understand the unexpected event – but no-one wants to be surprised on product launch day with the news that “something came up” and the product won’t be ready for another day or two. Sure it is hard to renegotiate something part way through, but nowhere near as hard as letting it go until it is too late.
To the manager and business owner you already know who you can rely on in your team. This person may not be the star performer but they stand out because when they say they will do something, then it gets done and done well.
Working in harmonyMy fourth tip is to be an influencer of others, in the right way.
Consider who may be looking at you as a role model. New people in the team seek out what others around them do in order to fit in and “learn the ropes”. Are you sure that you are showing them the best ropes?
Another phrase comes to mind – “do as I say not as I do” and it just doesn’t work.
Be conscious of what you do and what example you are setting. This includes not engaging in idle gossip, let alone malicious gossip (or anything like bullying or harassment).
You can be an informal leader of others and set a good example. Be the colleague that you would like to have. What I mean by that is behave in ways that you would like your colleagues to behave – be respectful, helpful without interfering, be reliable (yes tip#3 again) and work together.
To the manager or business owner, keep an ear out for the member of your team who is a positive influence on others. Take note of who is quietly helping you by keeping others focused on their work, and not distracted by chit chat or gossip.
It’s ok to askMy final tip is to not be afraid to ask for opportunities to grow your skills or to be helped where you need.
This is not a call to demand an intensive training plan or to admit all of your faults to your manager, it is about being able to assess where you might need some support from the business to help you to be a better performer for the business. In other words, ask for help so you can then help your manager or employer (or both)
As a manager or business owner you’ve probably had many requests for support for study or to attend expensive courses – but the ones that stand out and the ones that you value came from staff who were clear on how that new or enhanced skill will help you and your business. That is the attitude you are seeking.
Now these are by far the only tips to career success, but they are five of my favourites. And they are five that come up the most often when I’m coaching clients to gain more career success.
Wishing you all the best in your career, and for our spring weather in Australia.