By Michael Schneider
Establishing yourself in a new role is critical for future career trajectory.
Early impressions of your attitude, drive, and performance are often established within the first year — or sooner. What you do during this time shapes your reputation for better or for worse. To ensure you draw the right kind of attention to yourself, it’s important to not only master your current responsibilities, but also to start displaying qualities that demonstrate your potential.
In a recent LinkedIn article, Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry, a global management consulting firm, shared nine pieces of advice to position yourself for advancement opportunities. These five stood out from the rest. I’ve added my own personal touch to them.
1. Make yourself irreplaceable.
We’ve all heard this nugget before, but the additional piece of wisdom added by Burnison put this into a new light for me. He threw in, “…especially to your boss.”
At the end of the day, your boss is the one person standing between you and future roles. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in trying to position ourselves, that the politicking consumes us and we lose focus on being a supportive employee. Or, we push our own agenda and are constantly facing a headwind.
Don’t fight the system. Instead of working against one another, the goal should be to make your boss so successful that they can’t imagine losing you. By supporting them, they’ll return the favor and make sure you’re accomplishing your goals.
Make yourself irreplaceable to your boss, and you’ll both rise to the top.
2. Be a “learn-it-all.”
I couldn’t spin this point — it was too perfect. In addition to Burnison’s advice to be hungry and to stretch yourself, I also think of learning as making deposits. In the moment, picking up a new tool, skill, or process can be daunting. But every time you build your knowledge bank, you’re making an investment that could pay dividends in the future.
Learn as much as you can as fast as you can, and never stop. Your ability to learn new things and master new concepts will differentiate you from others who’ve become stagnate.
Plus, the more you pick up, the more opportunities you’ll have to make improvements and contributions down the road. Better yet, learn components of your manager’s job and take some things off their plate. A few things will happen. You’ll gain the knowledge needed at the next level, you’ll free them up to coach and mentor you, and you’ll build trust.
3. Distinguish yourself with your abilities.
Showcase your strengths. Whether its public speaking, excel modeling, or project management, establish yourself as the go-to person for certain tasks. Hopefully, this ability also compliments the strengths of your team or your manager. Eventually, the word will spread and people from across the organization will approach you with opportunities.
As a new employee, the urge to blend in and conform is strong. No one wants to be the person that ruffles feathers and rocks the boat on the first day. However, results and performance are what stands out. If you have an ability that can give you a leg up, don’t be afraid to use it.
Focusing on your strengths is another way to make sure you’re irreplaceable and to elevate your visibility across the organization.
4. Build a strong network.
I don’t mean politicking. Instead, I’m referring to the side-effects that come from putting others first and serving the organization. The more people you help, the more people you’ll have in your corner when problems arise within your own projects.
This point reminded me of an old African proverb I saw once, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Everyone can benefit from a strong support network. Surround yourself with great people, build coalitions, and you’ll amplify your capabilities.
5. Be the person everyone wants to work with.
Energize others. Don’t be that overly-negative person that shoots downing every idea that’s not theirs and zaps the energy out of the room. Instead, be encouraging, positive, and helpful to others.
Work isn’t always the most thrilling thing. However, its more bearable, and dare I say fun, when you’re collaborating with others who are friendly, gracious, and good-humored. Others inside the organization will be drawn to your contagious attitude, and you’ll be pulled into projects for the simple fact that you’re fun to work with.
Then, make sure you’re contributing and adding value, and it will snowball from there.
You only have a limited amount of time to establish your brand as a new employee. In addition to mastering your job, it’s important to keep these five things in mind to effectively position yourself for future opportunities.
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