Did you arrive an hour early today? Did you stay late yesterday? Perhaps you finished the project that you were working on last week when it was due at the end of the month.  Congratulations.  Well done!  Unfortunately, all this hard work and effort might be a monumental waste of time in your goal of a promotion or moving to the next level in your company. Depressing isn’t it.

Yes, you may get noticed by your manager.  They may even appreciate you more than you realise.  Sadly, their respect and appreciation may not be enough to get you ahead of the game.

Cultivating relationships across your business, defining and projecting your personal brand, and working smarter are steps that will have impact.  Here is a breakdown of the steps you need to take.

Cultivate Relationships

The people in your business are your most important asset for building your profile.  Nurture your relationships daily.  This means not just talking about work by the way!  Show a genuine interest in what is going on in the lives of your co-workers outside of the workplace too.  It really helps to be strategic, if you identify which relationships are going to benefit you the most and make extra time for them.  Show appreciation for those around you and offer help when the opportunity arises will make you genuinely popular in the workplace.  It sounds simple, but how many times have you wanted to amplify the office misery guts?  Seek out those in other departments who you can connect with and build rapport with….get out of your comfort zone.  That’s where the magic happens.

Get a mentor and/or be a mentor

Be a mentor to new and inexperienced staff.  They WILL repay you down the line.  It’s important also to seek out those who have MORE experience and skills than you do and get their input. The double effect of them helping you get better at your job and the satisfaction that they get from seeing you heed their good advice will benefit you down the line.  Identify someone in a position of influence that you respect.  Start with a coffee and ask their advice on something specific.  Be interested in their career story.  Share your ambitions.  Follow up!  Let them know what action you’ve taken and the impact it has had.  Before you know it you’ve built a mentor, and perhaps even a sponsor relationship.

Expand your Responsibilities

When I was a System’s Analyst I jumped at the chance to do my Six Sigma Black Belt training, which meant I lead lots of impactful improvement projects that increased my visibility.  Later in my career I spied an opportunity to have an impact when we had really low employee engagement results.  That was so effective it started a whole new career for me. 

What I’m saying is your job title isn’t set in stone.  Those who step outside their comfort zone are those who progress quicker.  Learning new skills while working with those you might not usually associate with is a powerful tool.  And again your profile within the organisation will be magnified.  Volunteer for opportunities.  Keep an ear to the ground for interesting projects.  Let others know what you’re interested in and they’ll be able to suggest your name when the right work comes up.

Create your own vision

Knowing where you want to go and what you want to achieve can really help you work in the RIGHT way.  If the work you are thinking of volunteering for isn’t going to help you reach the goals you want, then don’t do it.  Any additional work that you want to do NEEDS to fit in with the vision of where you want to end up.  Ask yourself, will this help me learn and grow in the right direction?  What will this give me that I don’t have now?  Where does that fit into my career future?

Define your personal brand

I talk about personal brand in detail in other blogs and Career Elevator Programme.  In brief defining your personal brand can help you build credibility and trust in your organisation.  Being known as an authentic asset to your company is a very strong position to be in.  It does, however, take time and thought to define your brand.  But I have seen time and time again with my clients that is one of the most important things that you need to do.  If people don’t know and respect you for what you want to be doing, you’ll be stuck on the wrong path for a long time!

Prioritise and work smart

It’s common sense that you should prioritise your work to complete the most business critical (and biggest win) tasks first.  You should also make time to delegate if appropriate, not just because it frees you up for other tasks, it also develops your team.  PLUS it’s crucial you don’t make yourself indispensable in your role, that can result in you getting stuck.  Work yourself out of a position by building others up and then you can step up to higher-value work.  Always look for ways to embrace technology to take up the slack for some of the regular work that you do.  Automated e-mail responses, macros on reports and data validation when using excel are the tip of the iceberg.  If you aren’t tech savvy as you’d like to be, make the effort to brush up on you knowledge.  And its not that difficult, google is your friend people!

Check out the blog on working smarter for more tips and tools you can use!

Forget perfection

?“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

Anne Lamott

Striving for perfection is a sure-fire way to always feel worthless and to put the barriers up to feedback.  Because you are so scared of making a mistake you will never take risks and get out of your comfort zone.  Condemning yourself in your working life to this will result in less success, and a pretty unhappy life…it’s one of the main causes of Imposter Syndrome.  Learn to let go by asking yourself, what have I learned from this experience?  How can be even better next time?  That’s where true growth lies.

Embrace change and risks

Sounds easy, but as humans we are wired to take the easiest path.  Stop it.  You won’t progress if you don’t challenge yourself.  The greatest growth comes from taking risks and, yes, failing!  When it comes to change in your organisation, you may deep down think the change in process is a terrible idea…but if you embrace it, take the lead on it and innovate around it you will make a HUGE impact on how you are perceived.  Yeah Mrs Positive, I’m talking to you!

Remember your health (Physical and mental)

Take care of yourself. One of the biggest problems with working too hard is the cost to your emotional, physical and mental well-being.  In addition to this your personal relationships will suffer if you spend 14 hours every single day in the office.  Take the time to breathe.  Take the time to reward yourself for completing tasks.  And remember that the reason you work is to life a happy life.  You don’t just exist to spend your days working hard.

Don’t let excessive and mindless hard work stand in the way of your success.  You get one chance at this life to make an impact in your career.  Why mindlessly slog away trying to impress your direct manager while ignoring all the other influencers in your organisation? Why spend additional hours working that will send you no further on your journey to the top? Now stop reading Generation Women blogs and get back to bloody work ?

If you want to know how to work smarter and present the best version of you read more about Generation Womens Career Elevator Programme.

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