Five Ways to Make it Happen in 2010

January 7th, 2010

Now that year end is completed and bonuses distributed and unemployment reports are looking more optimistic, you are most likely thinking about what you want to achieve in 2010.

These have been tough times to be thinking about getting ahead. Many of you may be thankful you have a job….but are building up a mountain of resentment because you are working harder, with fewer resources, for less money, in flatter organizations, with no “promises” or promotions to keep you motivated, other than an ongoing paycheck and health benefits to sustain you.

Yet, you see others getting ahead, despite the economy. You watch co-workers being tapped for advancement, called by recruiters, or offered big assignments and interesting projects.

What are they doing that you could as well?   They are not waiting for someone to notice.

Working hard and waiting to be recognized and promoted leads to a lot of output with little forward momentum, and eventually bitterness and poor morale. Believing that their contributions go unappreciated is one of the three main reasons people lose their drive or seek other positions. While it would be great if all managers were focusing on their employee engagement and advancement, in reality, getting promoted is the ambitious employee’s responsibility, particularly when resources are low and demands are high.

Achieving great results is only part of the advancement equation. Being unable or unwilling to consciously connect and self-promote is a major career limitation.

If no one knows you are contributing, then your efforts will go either unacknowledged or others will take the “credit”. If you get frustrated and then demand advancement and are perceived as pushy or competitive, you will be moved aside. Self-promotion is a delicate and critical career management skill which requires observation of how others get recognition, patience, persistence and a strong belief in your self.

The key is to build awareness with stakeholders, connectors and decision makers. This effort extends beyond doing your job. Strategic self-promotion requires a focus on articulating your value with decision makers in ways that they find compelling; understanding and addressing the linchpin issues; and cultivating positive buzz about what you do through your manager’s peers, your colleagues and reports. And in today’s volatile economy, you will benefit from being known beyond your own organization, as well.

So, if you want to get ahead and believe you are being limited, do some of the following:

1. Look for a way to be a unique contributor based on an unmet business need.
2. On a regular basis, initiate a career discussion with your manager, mentor or sponsor in which you review what you have achieved, what you would like to do and how you can contribute going forward .
3. Don’t ask what the company will do for you, propose what you can contribute to the company/department.
4. Think in terms of what skills and relationships you want to develop and volunteer/request to be on some interesting project or part of a team that will expand others’ knowledge of what you can do.
5. Eliminate the complain, compare, criticize routine. Instead, plan, propose and position yourself in a collaborative and positive way.

These five steps would be terrific 2010 resolutions!

For more inspiration, read Staying Power: Executive Fit and Flex

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