Conventional career advice often centers around choosing the right career for you or doing well in an interview. But if you want to take your career to the next level – that is, if you want to rise above middle management – you’re going to need a whole new caliber of career advice. That’s because upper management positions come with huge levels of responsibility, and they require a different set of skills from entry- and mid-level jobs.
If you think it’s time to take your career to the next level, you’re going to have to take your performance to the next level first. It’s simply not enough just to be good – or even excellent – at your job. You have to show that you’re an indispensable member of the organization. You’ll have to prove your value to the company by bringing them more customers and doing your part to increase profits. Nor should you underestimate the value of being well-liked by co-workers – while you shouldn’t sacrifice your work ethic to the cause of popularity, you’ll find that climbing the professional mountain is much easier when you have a team of supporters rallying behind you.
Make Yourself Indispensable
By making yourself indispensable to your company and your team, you’re advancing your career in several ways. You’re building your skill set and nurturing your problem-solving abilities. You’re making yourself the go-to guy or girl in the office. And, if you can make yourself truly indispensable to the organization, you’ll be recession-proofing your job by ensuring that your position is one of the last on the chopping block when hard times come.
Most importantly, you’ll begin to cultivate a reputation as a problem-solver and leader, someone who can be trusted to figure things out. So learn to change the printer toner or troubleshoot that new software application. You’ll be glad you made the extra effort when promotion time comes.
Boost the Company’s Bottom Line
As previously mentioned, if you want your career to really take off, it isn’t enough to just do your job well, look busy, and hope for the best. If you want to become a leader in your organization, you have to be able to offer your firm measurable value – in the monetary sense. That means you’ll need to personally work on bringing in as much business as you can.
This means you might have to get creative and problem-solve a little to figure out how to make things happen in your company. It also means you’ll most likely have to go above and beyond your job description. But it doesn’t mean you should bank on merely being busy. Being busy, in and of itself, isn’t enough to net you that big promotion if your activity doesn’t get results, and there’s no reason you can’t get those results while still putting in a reasonable number of weekly hours at the office.
Often, working long hours and being busy have the opposite of the intended effect – they end up leaving you frazzled, harried, and stressed, and that gives your higher-ups the impression that you can’t handle more responsibility. Instead of working yourself half to death, think about other ways you can cultivate your leadership and business skills, such as enrolling in the best online MBA course for your field, or seeking out mentorship opportunities within the organization.
Be Everyone’s Friend at the Office
While popularity alone won’t advance your career, being disliked or seen as aloof by your peers at work will hold you back at promotion time. Fortunately, it’s not hard to be likeable, even if being friendly and personable doesn’t come naturally to you. Start by learning everyone’s name, and using it when you address them. When you need to ask someone for something, be polite and take an interest in the other person’s life. Be positive and helpful, but don’t hold back when you need a favor of your own – when you let someone do a favor for you, you’re giving the gift of feeling good about their kind deed.
If you want to get past a certain point in your career, you need to be prepared to develop leadership skills and show your value as a member of the organization. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to grow your worth as an employee and a leader – and that means that when it comes to your career, the sky’s the limit.