Looking to get promoted at work? These 7 crucial tips will help you get yourself on the fast track, whether that’s demonstrating your problem-solving potential or upping the enthusiasm.
1. Demonstrate an eagerness to learn
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had – every day I’m learning something new.”
– Richard Branson, business tycoon, investor, author, and philanthropist
How do you accomplish this? It’s as simple as always being the first to volunteer to take on a project or task. There are always plenty of opportunities to show that you don’t only work towards your own self-development, but for the wellbeing and progression of the team and company as a whole. Having a can-do attitude gets things done, and most importantly, it gives you the chance to learn from trial and error.
Remember, most people learn on the job because the quickest way to success is learning from mistakes — not just your own, but from those around you. Seize the chance to observe your superiors at every opportunity. Pursue every avenue of development at your disposal, such as online classes, virtual events, and of course, networking. Speaking to those with experience in your field can be an excellent way for you to gauge what to do, and what not to do.
2. Identify a problem and solve it
“If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life.”
– Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder
Looking to position yourself as a standout employee? Examine the systems in place at your company, identify a problem area, and work to optimise it with an actionable plan and solution. If you’re working towards a goal, you have to start somewhere. The best way to begin is to ask yourself, “How can I solve this real-life problem?”
People listen to results. If you’re able to make improvements to your workplace by optimising a process or innovating a small part of the business to become more efficient, people will not only begin to notice you, but also trust you as well. This demonstrates that you have initiative, you’re willing to take risks, and you’re determined to act on the ideas you contribute, which are all key attributes in a desirable employee.
3. Stay humble and avoid being overly competitive
“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
– Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker
You know what they say… It’s about who you know. While there is some truth to that, the fact is that good intentions and morals in business, paired with hard work and results, are incredibly difficult to ignore.
So, how do you get people to trust you? Like we said, people listen to results. If your track record proves that you have a keen eye for detail, a mind that is constantly looking to learn and innovate, and morals that keep you grounded and likeable, people will not only want to work with you, but to also follow your lead. The importance of the latter is often underestimated, especially when we see cut-throat work culture becoming normalised by some of the biggest, most sought-after companies (like Netflix), but being selfish and overly competitive won’t serve you in the long run. If you want to be seen as a leader and as someone worth promoting, you should be supportive of everyone’s achievements. A win for someone on your team is a win for everyone, and you should behave like it.
4. Consider how your actions reflect on you and those around you
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
— Warren Buffett, investor, business tycoon, and philanthropist
When you’re in the thick of determination, it’s easy to forget to stop and think. Climbing a professional ladder is about a lot more than just qualifications and hard work. Sometimes, it’s about making the right moves, and they call this office politics.
This is by no means a suggestion to brown-nose senior faculty. Instead, it’s a reminder to be considerate of what you do and say, not just in the workplace, but online, too. With each passing generation, the world of work evolves. These days, your online persona matters just as much as how you present yourself in professional situations.
The easiest way to make sure you’re on your toes about your reputation? Empathy. Always try to look at your actions from another’s perspective. Consider how you might be perceived, and reflect on why that might be. This simple act doesn’t only help to protect your image, it also gets you into the habit of understanding people, and that’s what most businesses are about — people.
5. Be willing to seize opportunities
“I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.”
— Oprah Winfrey, renowned talk show host, entrepreneur, media executive, and philanthropist
Sometimes, the only thing standing in your way is you. That’s not the easiest realisation to come to, but often, people can zero in on the ideas of hard work, reward, and recognition, but when the opportunity comes to prove that they’re ready for the next step in their career, they choke. Making decisions based on fear can be your undoing, which ties in closely with what we said earlier: Be the first to step up.
You can be the hardest worker on the team, but if you freeze during an opportune moment because you feel you may not be ready for the challenge, you are blocking your own success and development. Show up prepared to fulfil the tasks expected of you, and then go all-in when the time comes to prove your worth. If that time doesn’t come as soon as you’d like it to, don’t be afraid to ask for the chance to prove you’re worthy of a promotion. Oftentimes, that kind of gumption is rewarded when it’s backed up by a good work ethic.
6. Work hard to develop the ideas you contribute
”Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”
— Thomas Edison, iconic American inventor
Thomas Edison knew exactly what he was talking about. Ideas are only as valuable as the quality of their execution. If you’re sticking your neck out by volunteering a new proposal or idea, whether it’s during a pitch meeting or a conference call, it’s important to communicate that you have a specific, well-researched action plan that goes with it. Ideas are a dime a dozen. What separates the good from the great is follow-through.
Remember that the work doesn’t stop when you’re praised for a job well done. That’s when it begins. Put in the extra hours, go the extra mile, and do all that you can to ensure that what you’re known for is an outstanding track record of seeing things through to the end.
7. Be passionate about what you do
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
— Steve Jobs, co-founder, Apple Inc., business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor
All in all, make sure that the ladder you’re climbing is one you really want to be on. When you’re on the hunt for a promotion, it’s easy to get caught up in the prospect of a higher salary, better benefits, and more power. But if your heart isn’t in it, over time, it’ll begin to show in your work. No matter the field or industry, honesty, hard work, confidence, and humility are all desirable traits in an employee, and you can possess each and every one, but if you are not satisfied with the work you’re pursuing, those qualities won’t be enough.
Make sure you sow seeds where you’re happy to stay, and the determination to constantly improve and take further steps will come naturally.