I recently shared a few insights on why performance isn’t enough to power your career, and why you should focus on your visibility and managing your brand. In Part 2, let’s explore two more strategies for professional advancement.
ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
As far as I know, most people are not mind-readers, and when it comes to your career, neither is your manager. While leaders should absolutely focus on developing their people, many of them have so much on their plate, including their own careers, that it’s unrealistic for them to intuitively know what everyone on their teams are interested in or ready for at any given moment.
In my case, I’ve been passed up for my share of promotions or juicy projects, but interestingly enough, I’ve rarely been denied the asks I put out proactively.
Steal My Tactics: Here’s why you should speak up:
- There were roles or projects that my manager at the time had no idea I cared about or wanted. When I raised my hand, it not only put that manager on notice, it also demonstrated my own engagement and ambition
- Sometimes the ask wasn’t something I could have immediately, but my manager was able to keep it in mind when the opportunity did come around
- Every now and again, the ask initiated feedback about why I wasn’t ready or why someone else might have been selected – not the answer I was hoping for, but better to get some insight than to have questions kicking around in my head
Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? You might get a no, but you could also get just the assignment/project/promotion you wanted!
BONUS TIP: Sometimes it’s tough to know if you’re truly ready for an opportunity, but if you’re going to put the ask out there, do some homework in advance. Take some time to find out what you can about the skills or requisites are and be prepared to share how you stack up. Remember to keep in mind anything you’ve learned or understood about your personal brand.
Rounding out these strategies, let’s take a look at who’s in your corner. In Part 1, we explored the importance of the right people knowing who you are. Taking a step further, you should also have someone of influence who can advocate on your behalf in the appropriate forums. I can directly attribute a lot of my own career progression to having the eyes and ears of leaders with influence, who were either able to give me opportunities directly or advocate that I receive them.
Finding a sponsor may seem daunting, but there are a few things to keep in mind for identifying and maintaining that relationship:
- Remember, strong performance is the foundation for getting the attention and support of a potential sponsor
- Consider who has influence in your department and what you might offer the individual or their business (relationships are a two-way street!)
- Be sure to drive and nurture the relationship and be consistent with how regularly you touch base
- Make your sponsor’s job easy by sharing updates on your progress and accomplishments
- Be open to their feedback and recommendations, but as with any aspect of your career, you should ultimately decide how you implement the advice you receive
ARE YOU DRIVING YOUR CAREER?
Performance alone rarely gets us to the top. Take a good look at your approach and consider how you might:
- Be visible, build relationships and strategically showcase your accomplishments
- Manage your personal brand
- Ask for what you want
- Find and maintain relationships with key leaders who will advocate on your behalf.
Anything missing from this list? Please share your own experiences, questions and recommendations. If you’re looking for some personal support, reach out to me to learn about my career coaching services.