What advice would you give to early career young professionals who want to make their mark in the workplace?
Move from a position of success. How you exit one position or one career is how you enter the next.
The paradox of switching jobs or employers is that we don’t realize we want to leave until there’s no longer a reason to stay which inherently creates a feeling of “I’m over this job; I don’t care anymore.” Fight the urge to underperform in your current role while performing a search for your next role.
I’ve switched careers four times in 10 years, and before each move I had to dig deep to conjure motivation to maintain a high level of performance. As challenging as it may be, outperforming in your current role changes the narrative from the negative to the positive.
Network internally. Top down beats bottom up every time.
While networking within your organization, ensure you build strong relationships with your peers and managers, but also make an effort to reach for the top as well. I challenge each of my mentees to get a meeting with the CEO in the first 12 months.
When you start to build these senior relationships, use this opportunity to elevate your managers and direct reports. Our greatest hindrance to our own success is often the fear of going over the head of our managers. If your mangers hear you went over their heads to provide kudos and support to their executives, you’ll no longer have that problem.
When promotion season rolls around, you’ll soon realize the power of top-down relationships. Their presence and insight will be enough to prevent any bureaucratic hurdles from forming between you and a role that you’ve rightfully earned.
Enlightened self-interest. Remember that tip about elevating your managers? The principle of enlightened self-interest is the glue that holds the plan together.
Society wants us to repress this natural “me first” feeling by shrouding all natural, enlightened self-interest into deprecating terms like “selfish” or “vain.” Don’t do that. In your career, embrace this reality, and embrace it outwardly.
Constantly remind yourself in meetings and other engagements, “How do I make these people look good?” People want to work with people that make them look good and strengthen their personal brand. At one point in my career, I took a series of Microsoft Excel shortcut classes, so that I could help peers and managers with shortcuts that would reduce some of the manual functions they were performing. I knew that Excel would not be the crux of my career in the future. All that mattered was that I had one advanced capability that I could use simply to help those around me.
The ship sails without you. After those initial tips to shine in the workplace, it’s time to throw a little tarnish on your crown.
As productive as you are in your role, as strong as your internal network may be, and as good as you make people look – unfortunately, the ship sails without you. No matter your position or how important a role you play, every organization is designed set sail with or without you.
So if you’re headed to Bermuda tomorrow for a much-needed vacation and you’re planning to work every day… remember, the ship is deigned to sail without you. Leave your computer, put your toes in the sand, and let that ship sail for a week.