Whether right out of college, graduate school or coming in from another company, managing personal Success in any Corporation is challenging. Globalization, downsizing and outsourcing all have made that challenge even greater. There are steps that anyone coming into a corporation can take that will guarantee a degree of success, if not the CEOs desk (or perhaps cubicle for some companies today).
- Learn your new job inside out. Know more about your job than anyone in your company. And once you know everything about your job, learn all you can about the functional jobs that intersect with yours. Also learn all you can about your boss’s job. But first, be the expert in your job, not just in your company, but in your industry.
- Meet people. Meet people of all titles, functions, organizations and roles in your company. Build you network. But do not stop there. Join one local and one national professional organization. Get to know others outside of your company in your field. This is more important than most people realize. Your network outside of your company is even more valuable than that within your company although it takes more effort and “care and feeding”.
- Get your credentials. If you do not have an MBA and those around you or above you have them, get one. Hopefully your company will pay for it. It you need other advanced degrees or professional certifications, get them. Do not wait. This is important too. If the company pays for it, great. If not, it is an important investment. And make sure those you are working with are aware of your on-going academy and professional work – not just you boss but co-workers and your boss’s boss too.
- Look up. What are the people one and two layers above you doing? Talking about? Wearing? If you aspire to success you need to look up not just at your peers. Are the bosses golfers? Then learn to play golf and learn to play well. Or tennis. Or whatever. These things will be increasingly important for expanding your network and at functions such a conferences, retreats and forums.
- Take on more than you are assigned. Once you know your job inside out, offer to take on special assignments. This can be work on committees, task forces or other additional work items. While the old military adage is not to volunteer, in the corporate world, volunteering to do more will get you attention. Of course it is a given that you will do a superb job with whatever you take on.
- Be the first one in your department in each morning. Get a head start on everyone else. Not just some days but every day. And working a half day without being asked on either Saturday or Sunday is a good idea to stay ahead of the curve too. Does that mean you should be the last one to turn off the lights each night? No! While being in early is an advantage. Being the last one in, unless working on a special group or team deliverable can have the opposite effect. Those who work last consistently are view as slow, overwhelmed and it begs the question of what did they do all day.
- Work and friendship can be a dangerous thing. Whether its buddies or dating. Keep office relationships professional. The end.
- Stay sharp. Work out. Get enough sleep (unless you are one of those fortunate very few like Henry Kissinger and Martha Steward who do not require much sleep). Read. When not in the office, do not be a slug in front of you television or your computer. Being fit and mentally sharp are vital for the marathon of corporate success.
- Do not get stale. If you have been in a specific job for two years you have three options: find a lateral job, find out how close you are to a promotion in your department or look for another job outside the company. This is firm. After two year you are a “lifer” in any position. And that is NOT a good thing.
While there is no guarantee for success in the turbulent world of corporations due to takeovers, bankruptcies, downsizing and off-shoring, the steps outlined above will give those who consistently follow them a significant advantage over their co-workers and in many cases, over their bosses too.
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