How to be a Success on the Job and Grow Fast in Your Career
Success on the job has several scales to measure. One is your pay rise, another is your growth in the organizational ladder and the third is your popularity / respectability / indispensability in the organization.
To be successful, you have to have certain capabilities. They include:
(1) your working skills, technical (job related) knowledge, producing results as per expectations by your boss or as per targets given to you and better still, exceeding them.
(2) Administrative skills - in managing people, tasks, plans and schedules. This also includes good communicating skills.
(3) Interpersonal skills - moving well with colleagues, sub-ordinates and seniors and also the knack to skillfully handle office politics and power games.
Being capable in any one of these 3 broad categories may help you to get elevated to a certain level only in the organization; for consistency in tasting success, you must be proficient in ALL these categories.
Technical skill matters -- only to an extent
Many of us, in judging competence in ourselves to become successful, mostly restrict ourselves to the first point. Of course, it is one of the major criteria in judging an employee. Many times, at lower rungs of the organizational ladder, working skill is a major quality that rightfully get its due share of prominence in fetching a pay rise or a promotion.
However, truly competent people generally have a problem. They are too egoistic. Even if they are not, recognition of their expertise (by themselves or by others in comparison with colleagues and even bosses) make them egoistic over a period of time! Highly skilled, knowledgeable and competent people develop a tendency to "look down" at incompetent people - and many times it includes the boss! Intentionally or unintentionally, this "looking down" gets expressed in reactions, gestures and at times, even in words. This will prove to be counterproductive sooner or later.
Being a "specialist" has its advantages only up to certain levels in the organizational ladder; growing up involves taking more responsibilities, covering more of hither-to-unfamiliar turf, managing more of people and getting things done from those who themselves will be "specialists". Thus a natural evolution from a "specialist" to a "generalist" will pave success on the job in the log run.
Be enthusiastic and willing to take up responsibility
While hard work is a respected quality, a person who works hard but is unwilling to take responsibility for the quality/ outcome of his efforts and expects his boss to take the blame if something goes wrong, is not the one who is fit to grow in the organization.
You should not be the type who runs up to your boss every time to take instructions even where you yourself should have used your sense of judgment. This attitude may please many bosses, as it gives them a false sense of pride. But an indecisive person is not fit for successful growth in the organization. When you encounter a problem, are you behaving as a part of the problem of part of a solution? Where a solution is within your knowledge but beyond your powers of execution, are you approaching your boss with the problem along with a well thought out solution? If yes, you are poised for tasting success on the job.
A word of caution here:
- Unfortunately, in the corporate world, there are bosses who think they are the only capable people to take decisions and subordinates are permitted only to air suggestions but not take decisions on their own. In other words, these are bosses who only delegate work but not power. Where an employee feels that his ideas/ judgments are far better than the boss, he should learn the knack of convincing the boss and getting his ideas/ suggestions conveyed to higher-ups as if they are the brilliant ideas of the boss!
Stretch yourself more
If you are a service engineer, do you willingly put extra working hours at the customer's site to make the critical machine run at the crucial juncture without expecting any special consideration for it? If you are an Accounts clerk, do you willingly extend a helping hand to the Sales Executive to sort of a dispute with customer regarding a tax issue without saying "it is not my work" ?Then you are a potential candidate to taste success in the organization.
Observe and learn - Be prepared to step in
Make yourself fit to shoulder the next higher position by observing and learning from what your boss is doing.
- What sort of correspondence does he do? What sort of reports does he make?
- What sort of decisions does he take?
- What sort of additional work is he doing?
- What sort of meetings does he attend and does he conduct?
- What sort of additional skill-sets does he possess at his level?
- What are the mistakes is he committing?
- What are the areas he is supposed to be thorough but is really not?
- What sort of weaknesses does he display and how should a better boss avoid them?
- Keep asking these questions; observe and learn. Keep reading books on managerial effectiveness , good managerial methods and practices written by successful businessmen and management gurus.
Never shy away from actively participating or from presenting your ideas and views in meetings attended by higher echelons in management. Be and become visible. Get noticed.
Loyalty does matter
This trait is gradually diminishing in the present day culture of job-hopping. However, if you demonstrate your identification with the goals and values of the organization, if you do not act as a parasite to stealthily enjoy the perks and privileges from the organization by some devious means, then you stand a far better chance in growing quickly in the organization. A person with a long standing experience of working in the organization has the core values of the organization better imbibed in him than someone joined relatively recently. Successful companies always maintain a fair ratio of old-blood and fresh-blood in the veins of the organization. Loyalty pays.
Respect the boss
A boss is a boss whether he is in that position deservedly or undeservedly. He has his ego to be buttressed, whether he is competent or not. If he develops a grouse against you, he won't mind ignoring you in preference to a less competent but a more amenable person. Even if he is incompetent, he is bound to be there till his vulnerability gets exposed. Whether you like it or not, give him due respect to his position and do not rub him at the wrong side. At the same time, improve your capabilities to fit into his shoes if and when the opportune moment arrives.
Beyond a level, it is interpersonal skills that matters more than anything else
You may get promoted to a couple of higher levels by the strength of your work competence; but if you do not hone your competence in interpersonal skills, your weakness in this area starts getting exposed. You may get a reputation as a task-master, but lose cordial relationship with colleagues and sub-ordinates.
In meetings with higher ups, your body language, verbal skills, use of phrases, assertiveness, politeness combined with firmness, your appreciation or criticism about policy matters - everything will be keenly watched and judged.
As one moves up in the higher echelons of management, competence in man-management takes priority over core skills. As already seen earlier, many "technically competent" people get a beating in this area and they fail to grasp the change of perception needed at higher levels. One must have the capacity to manage the good, bad and the ugly - not only among those under his stewardship, but also among those who are up above in the pecking order.
Over and above good interpersonal skills, if you have the guts and inclination, you can develop political skills like maneuvering, manipulation and personality oriented loyalty to the organization - this is one channel for quicker success which has its own risks. Alternatively, you should develop excellent diplomatic skills to stay clean and clear of such murky activities in the organization; this is a safer channel but your growth may become slow and stunted.
As long as you develop yourself as a multifaceted personality who is competent in all the aspects discussed, success is assured in your career.