Getting ahead in an organization is something many people aspire to do. Whether it’s a raise in salary, increased visibility, an enhanced reputation, a promotion, a corner office, a coveted parking spot with ‘Reserved’ tattooed all over it, or getting to the point where you can actually reduce your time in the actual office by working from home, getting ahead is usually seen as a desirable thing.
So how to get ahead becomes a question that many people start asking of themselves and of others around them. Is it taking a course, upgrading your formal education, volunteering for tough assignments etc.? Maybe.
One of the key things that is required is that you become more visible and recognizable to those who are in a position to help you along the way. After all, if you are fairly invisible, you’re not going to be on the mind of the people you need and want to be known by, when it comes to advancement. And increased visibility comes from working smarter, not necessarily working only harder. Working harder without a plan may just be interpreted as you need to work harder than others to garner the results that others are routinely obtaining. In such as case, your hard work is going unrecognized.
If you truly want to GET ahead, I sincerely think you have to GIVE. For starters give your goals some honest thought and make sure they are SMART goals; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. Saying, “Someday I want to be in a position of power” isn’t a smart goal. Saying, “In 6 years I want to be the Manager of the Personnel Department” is a SMART goal; if of course it’s relevant to you.
Now that you’ve given some thought to creating a SMART goal, give some thought to the strategy and steps necessary to make it a reality. Plotting backwards, not forwards, what will things look like just before you obtain your goal? What has to happen prior to that? If it’s education you need, where do you get it? How long will it take to complete? How do you register? How much money is required? Now keep that plan accessible and visible so you give it some attention on a daily basis. Pin it on your corkboard for example, not hidden in some desk drawer.
Next, turn your attention to the human factor. For starters I’m going to say right up front that I believe we should all be very ‘giving’ of ourselves to all those we come in contact with. However having said that, make a short list of those who are currently holding positions of influence in regard to the distance between where you are now and where you want to be. So in the example above, that Management position you covet might mean that the 5 Managers on the hierarchical chart will have a say in who they work with if and when one of them moves on. Then too above them there is the Department Head. And not to be overlooked are those to whom the Managers and Department heads have surrounded themselves with. Their support staff for one can make it difficult or easy for you to get access to the people you want to meet.
Now this all sounds very conniving, as if in some way should everyone take this advice, all the employees would be secretly plotting out how to take advantage of everyone else and use them to their own best advantage. In some workplaces, I imagine it is somewhat like that. However, most people have hopes of moving ahead but few actually give thought to doing the necessary planning to make it happen other than by chance.
Giving of yourself means not always scheming to get something in return but giving because it is helpful to others. When you give your time especially, you’ll find that it is appreciated and yes may be recipricated in some way, but it’s sad to think that anyone would only give of themselves if there is something directly in it for them.
“How can I help?” is an invitation you can extend to others whether it’s on a short-term basis, a significant project, or maybe even just a request for advice. Asking this one question doesn’t commit you to anything at the moment, and after hearing what the other person has to say, you may realize that the help they seek isn’t within your ability to provide. Can you however give some thought to the need and perhaps refer someone else to them? Then by way of your assistance, you have given of yourself and others will remember that kindness.
Remember that some of the richest people got that way because rather than hoarding they gave – and continually give of themselves. And by rich I don’t necessarily mean money in the bank.
So here’s six things to try today:
1) Give someone words of encouragement
2) Give someone praise for completing a task
3) Give someone an ear
4) Give your boss a word of thanks for their support and leadership
5) Give up your coveted parking spot to someone else as a reward for a single day
6) Give someone a tea or coffee when you make one for yourself in the staff room