Looking to take your career to the next level? Success is just around the corner: all it takes is dedication, determination and a desire to move forward in your professional journey. Of course, opportunities won’t fall from the sky: if you want to be considered for a promotion, the future is in your hands – it’s time to prove you’ve got what it takes to thrive in the next tier.
No matter the industry you work in, or the size of the organisation, your progression through the ranks will depend upon your ability to build on your skillset and handle increasing responsibilities. If you’re up to the challenge, your path to success should look something like this:
Stage 1: Developing talent
Fresh from graduation, you enter the workplace with textbooks worth of stored knowledge about your particular discipline. However, applying this in a business context isn’t always straight-forward. Navigating a new landscape and putting theory into practice will take some getting used to; it will be a few months before you’ve got to grips with the responsibilities of your role.
At this stage, your priority is to learn as much as possible; to soak in as much industry insight as you can from your colleagues and superiors and, most importantly, ask questions. It may be tempting to stand on the side-lines but, in truth, we improve through practice. Throwing yourself into new tasks with the guidance of an experienced manager will allow you to be exposed to the highs and lows of business operations at the earliest possible stage.
Stage 2: Honing your skills
Having laid the foundations for a smooth trajectory to the next step, you’ll likely be eager to take on more responsibility. Curiosity expands horizons: building on existing skills, as well as developing new ones, will see you become an invaluable asset in your organisation. Even if the prospect of promotion is slim within the company, honing your skills will aid in making you an attractive candidate in the jobs market should an exciting opportunity arise.
Considering the amount of resources available online, climbing to the next rung on the ladder shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge. Commit several hours a week of your spare time to training yourself in a particular discipline and you’ll have added another string to your bow. Actively promote these skills and you’ll soon find more people relying on you and, in turn, more recognition from the top for your commitment.
Stage 3: Improving communication
Moving through the progression ladder takes more than expertise in your chosen field. Most successful leaders have spent years refining their soft skills to enable strong teamwork and collaboration. Some of the most important professional traits for workers can’t be taught in an e-learning course or measured on paper: empathy, adaptability, critical thinking and impeccable oral and written communication all play a key role in the smooth delivery of a particular task or project. If you are to make it past your current role to the next level, these are the skills that will be paramount to your success.
Stage 4: Innovating for results
While the ability to accurately follow orders and manage time are a given for those seeking a promotion, senior leaders tend look for that ‘je-ne-sais-qoui’ that can take the company to new heights when making their decision. Beyond seeing a project through to completion, professionals capable of finding new ways to work and driving efficiency are critical to company growth.
That isn’t to say you should drop all responsibilities to start exploring new methods, but if you have a great idea for a new solution or have found a way to cut time and/or costs within your workflow, speak up: this behaviour won’t go unnoticed.
Stage 5: Managing new talent
Ultimately, moving up in an organisation usually requires a certain amount of management experience. At first, this may seem like a Catch-22 scenario: if you need management experience to become a manager, how will you ever achieve your goal? Fortunately, most leaders are keen to train their employees in managing a team in order to implement their succession plan. By voicing your interest in leadership training, you raise awareness to decision makers about your intention to be a key part of this plan.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to gain experience managing an intern or assistant. If not, there are plenty of options for you to take advantage of in regard to external management training opportunities. Remember, being a leader isn’t solely about getting people to do what you want. True leadership means inspiring others to reach their full potential and motivating a team to exceed expectations.
Complete each stage in the journey and career progression should come naturally. Rather than waiting for the planets to align, this is your chance to prove yourself as a valuable addition to any organisation: with the right skill-set and attitude, there’s nothing holding you back from climbing to the top.
Written by Chris Birtle, Heat Recruitment