Get on the A-Team. Every organization has a fairly small group of employees who are regularly called on to address key business opportunities and problems. Being in this group means that you’ll get noticed regularly, and by working on real business issues, instead of seminars and conferences, you’ll accelerate your career growth. To get on these key projects, ask those employees who always seem to be involved in those projects how they got started. Always volunteer to be on cross-functional teams. Find out who assigns those teams and get to know those people. Build relationships with several of the people so that they recommend you. Be enthusiastic about it. And when you are chosen, do great work.
Surround yourself with positive, upbeat people. Often when we begin working with an organization we conduct interviews, and invariably we come across people who are cynical or just plain negative. Surround yourself with positive people and the tap the positive energy they generate. That will fuel your own energy to learn, achieve and grow.
Prepare for the next level. It’s important to be ready for the next level. Whether you move from an individual contributor position to a first line supervisor or from a functional manager to a division manager, you need to understand how the higher-level position operates and how it will be different. How you plan, assign work, motivate, coach, and measure the work of others will require new skills. For example, positions with greater responsibility cannot devote time to fighting fires and working independently. You’ll have to shift from doing work to getting work done through others. One way to prepare is to do some informational interviews. Ask high performers at the next level what they found challenging about the transition, what they did to prepare, and what they would do differently if they could. Pay particular attention to how they allocate their time.
While others can help you move ahead with your career, you’ll go faster if you make it easier for them to see you in action and if you prepare for higher levels of responsibility. These five steps are actions you can take now to accelerate the process within your organization.