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Advance your career by monitoring your behaviour
by Lee Hopkins
If you are looking at how to advance your career then there is one area in particular that needs paying attention to: controlling your own behaviour.
How you behave at work is a key factor in how your boss looks at your PP—your Promotion Potential. The unifying theme here is strategies, tactics and attitudes.
So, what do you need to do? Well, try these 10 steps:
1. Develop a Code of Professional Ethics. A good starting point is to establish a personal ethical code. By knowing what is right or wrong, what is good or bad based on your own values, you can deal more effectively with such issues as being offered bribes, having a co-worker backstab you or even being sexually harassed. But it also works the other way, too — by having a personal code you can judge for yourself the fine line between, say, giving a client a gift to say "Thank you" and giving them a bribe.
2. Make an Accurate Self-Appraisal. Draw up a list of your strengths and weaknesses, areas where you want to develop and preferences for the directions you want your career to move in. Then, compare this list with your friends, your family and your boss. Any differences need to be looked into, but at least you will know what you're doing wrong and what you're doing right! It will also show your boss that you're taking both yourself and your career seriously.
3. Develop Expertise and Build a Career Around It. A great way to get ahead is to develop a skill that is useful and not just the basics of your job. As you progress up the ladder your skills of memo writing, handling computer applications or budget preparation and handling, for example, will be essential. By having those skills ready before you get offered that promotion, you show your commitment to yourself and, your boss will assume, your employer. If you can troubleshoot—analyse and pinpoint snags in your department's workflow—you increase your worth to your employer, too. The surest path to success is to identify your area or areas of expertise and use them — not many Directors can do everything, but what they can do they do well. Make effective use of your talents and achieve recognition and success at the same time!
4. Perform Well In Your Present Job. This is common sense really, but research shows that you have to be effective where you are before you can really think about moving up. Job competence and talent are still, despite what your friends might enviously say, what gets you ahead. Any prospective new boss always asks your current boss, "How well did this person perform for you?"
5. Sustain Your Good Performance. Being consistent in your performance helps both your organisation and yourself. I remember one client telling me that, a while ago, they faced the difficult choice of promoting either a 'merely competent' employee or a really spectacular performer. They chose the merely competent employee because they knew she would be consistent, whereas the other woman was only spectacular when the mood took her. They needed someone who could handle a problem at any time, not just 'when she felt like it'.
6. Document Your Accomplishments. So easy to forget to do, but so worthwhile. By keeping an accurate record, you can not only say how good you are but prove it, too. You cannot underestimate the effectiveness of having your successes there in black and white for others to see.
7. Project a Professional Image. How you dress, how neat your desk is, how you speak and how you relate with others are all key pointers to how others see you. If you want to be taken seriously—and who doesn't—then you need to project a professional image. That doesn't mean spending the gross national product of a small country on clothing, but buy the best you can afford, keep your workarea organised and be aware of how you talk to and with others. Research shows that a professional image helps speed up the development of trust and rapport in business relationships.
8. Minimise Career Self-Sabotage. We all repeat behaviours but the successful person repeats less of them. A way of overcoming these behaviours is to get feedback from others on any aspect of your behaviour that might be harming your career. Then act on them!
9. Be Resilient. Nothing ever goes the way it's planned, but bouncing back from adversity is important leadership behaviour. The professional person knows that setbacks are inevitable in business and learns how to profit from mistakes and misfortunes. Instead of burying yourself in pity, try analysing where things went wrong and what you could do to both correct it and avoid it happening again. Even Richard Branson makes mistakes sometimes, but that doesn't stop him from dusting himself off and trying again, maybe in a different way, and no-one thinks of him as a failure!
10. Believe In Yourself! Have faith in yourself and what you are doing and persist in doing it well. If you know where you are going, you won't be bothered by critics on the way there. Invest in developing technical, interpersonal and administrative skills — they will eventually be recognised by your employers because what you are contributing is worthwhile to them. An investment in yourself pays dividends!
So there you have it — watch your behaviour and things will happen. Not overnight, for sure, but quicker than you think. You may not notice the changes, but you can bet your boss will!
Reports I have written:
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing
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