You know your job. You’re ambitious. Your company is growing. Your prospects look very good indeed.
Don’t kid yourself.
Most people do their work well. They too are conscientious, competent, cooperative. In the world of business, being good at what you do is frequently not enough to make you stand out from the crowd. To be appreciated and rewarded, you must also be perceived as being good and deserving of advancement.
Are you? Whether you are new on the job or an old hand, a professional or in middle management, you have a constituency of one whom you must satisfy and, ultimately, impress if you are to get ahead—your boss. Is he aware of your abilities, aspirations, and potential? Maybe, maybe not. If he isn’t, you may be missing out on a variety of opportunities.
It may be helpful, therefore, to take stock of your image right now. By determining as frankly and fully as possible the qualities and skills that your name conjures up in your boss’s mind, you can go a long way toward pinpointing those areas in which you already excel as well as those in which you ought to apply additional effort. Your answers to the following should give you a running start toward new self-knowledge.
- What is your reaction to being given an assignment different from any you’ve done before? Apprehension? “All-in-a-day’s-work”? Enthusiastic anticipation?
- Are you adaptable, able to assimilate new experiences, or do you tend to be thrown off center by the unfamiliar and the untried?
- Are you generally confident about your ability to adapt to new circumstances?
- Do you actively seek new responsibilities?
- Do you keep pretty much on top of your paperwork?
- When things are going exceptionally well, do you take advantage of the psychological boost by tackling other tough chores, or do you bask in your accomplishment and ease up for the rest of the day or week?
- Do you express yourself clearly? Do others immediately understand what you say and write?
- Do you present your ideas clearly, with facts in a logical sequence to back them up?
- Are you good on your feet, in front of an audience, or are you a nervous and inept speaker?
- Are you tactful? Can you persuade people to change their ways and do things differently without hurting their feelings?
- Do you view problems as barriers to getting your work done or, more realistically, as part of the work for which you are responsible?
- Do you tackle a problem as soon as you are aware of it, or do you tend to postpone it as long as possible in the hope that it will somehow take care of itself?
- When faced with a problem, do you try to isolate the key element on the supposition that if you can crack it, everything else will fall into place?
- Are you ever the problem—through indecision, poor communications, insufficient research, lack of planning, procrastination, and so on?
- Do you view your job primarily as a creative one or as a fairly cut-and-dried proposition that simply requires a certain amount of output?
- Do you have confidence in your ideas? Does it bother you when others disagree with them? Or, once convinced that you are right, do you stick to your guns?
- Are you receptive to and tolerant of new ideas, no matter what their source?
- Have you originated any new projects that had substantive value for your department or company?
- Are you aware of any biases, preconceived notions, or personal flaws that inhibit your creativity—e.g., discounting the abilities of others, assuming that certain facts are unobtainable, giving up too soon? If you are aware of them, do you consciously ward them off while in the throes of creativity?
- Would you say that you practice effective human relations?
- Do you think your boss views you as a comer? Why?
- What would you say he considers to be your single biggest strength? Weakness? Is that assessment justified?
- Is your boss generally receptive to your ideas?
- Are you ever asked to sit in for your boss when he must be out of the office for any length of time?
- Is he aware of your background? Experience? Interests? Ambitions?
10 Tips for the Recently Promoted
- Make sure your door is open to associates and subordinates. You can’t learn everything from written reports.
- Listen more than you speak.
- Adopt a positive attitude in performing the administrative details of your job. How well you handle them will figure in any estimate of your future potential.
- Set out to help your people develop their own greatest potential. You also will be judged on how well you perform this job.
- Don’t shy away from decisions in the early months. Your judgments must have been good in the past or you wouldn’t have been promoted. So don’t be afraid to keep making them.
- Don’t automatically support the old and familiar. Give a fair hearing to new ideas.
- At the same time, remember that you represent the company; its policies are your policies. So don’t apologize for any headquarters action—it will only dilute your authority.
- Don’t tolerate mediocrity. Most people want to meet a high standard.
- Don’t make a fuss over your promotion. By protesting too much about how you are still “one of the little people,” you may plant the suspicion that you really aren’t.
- Work harder than ever.
You Can Change For The Better
At a certain point in their lives, many people throw in the towel. Convinced that their destiny has been fulfilled by the age of 35, 40, or 50, they assume that there is no point in trying to change, grow or break out of a rut. “I am what I am and that’s that,” pretty much sums up their sentiments.
But that’s so only if you make it so. The truth is, you can change whenever you choose to make the effort. It’s getting started that’s the hard part.
The trick is to start with simple activities, then work your way up. For example:
- Do something you don’t want to do.
- Do something you’ve postponed doing.
- Spend a few minutes daily thinking of where your life is heading . . . where you would like it to head . . . and what you can do about redirecting it.
- Read a book instead of watching TV.
- Break a habit, any habit—smoking, overeating, procrastinating.
- Set a goal. Size is immaterial. It may be as small as attending to some annoying errands or as large as planning a new career. The point is to galvanize yourself into some kind of action.
- Do something constructive—that is, take a first step of some kind, whether it’s making a phone call, drafting a letter, drawing up a list, or outlining a plan.
- Make two lists—one of the things that you would like to do and another of the things you currently do that you wish you didn’t have to do. By creating a little healthy dissatisfaction in yourself, you may break through the status quo thinking that is stifling you.
- Take A Chance on Employees Who Have Made a Mistake
Some managers are so turned off by employees who have made a mistake that they penalize them out of all proportion to the offense. They reduce the transgressor’s responsibilities. They block all consideration of promotion. They may even make disparaging remarks about the individual.
Yet, good management is management that takes calculated risks. Fear of error only paralyzes and exacts its own penalty—stagnation.
It simply doesn’t make sense to penalize a good employee indefinitely for a single error.
Something to think about.