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The CEO’s Secret To Moving Up the Corporate Career Ladder

The CEO’s Secret To Moving Up the Corporate Career Ladder

Let’s face it, many try to climb the career ladder, but few succeed.

    As the CEO of Lifehack, I’ve seen a lot of employees trying to rise higher in their career, but unfortunately, the majority of them fail.

      What causes people to fail? In my experience, many of the people failing acted too aggressively – putting the bulk of their emphasis only on opportunities where they believed they could get promoted. On the other hand, some failures were too passive. They just did their jobs, while secretly hoping that they would get promoted one day. It rarely works like this.

      After many years watching the winners and losers, it’s clear to me that putting exclusive focus on climbing up the career ladder leads to failure. When a person’s eyes are on the ultimate result only (to be at the ‘highest point’ in their career), they tend to neglect important things like: personal growth, skills development and cooperation with other people. Not only do they neglect these things, but they fail to realize that these things are actually essentials for rising high and attaining recognition.

        The Five Essentials for Climbing the Ladder

          I’ve spent considerable time thinking about the fundamentals of career success, and it’s my belief that you must practice the five steps below if you’re to make your way up the career ladder.

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          1. Start with a blueprint in your mind.

          Do you know what your goals are? If not, you must take some time to identify them. Only once you precisely know what your goals are will you be able to see what it takes to get there.

          Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of your goals, but instead, set milestones and deadlines to motivate you to get things done. If necessary, break down big goals into small components.

          By doing the above, you’ll have a blueprint in your mind that will allow you to stay focused and motivated.

          As an example, if your goal is to be a professional musician, then you should devise a plan to reach that goal. It could look something like this:

          • Enrol in a full-time, professional music course.
          • Learn everything you can about music and your chosen instrument.
          • Spent a large chunk of your spare time in practising your chosen instrument.
          • Collaborate with others to build your skills and confidence.
          • Seek ways to make your playing, appearance and personality stand out from the crowd.

          A blueprint is a vital component for success – helping you to plan ahead, and keep track of your achievements.

          2. Based on the blueprint, work hard and work smart.

          To achieve your goals, you’ll need to work hard. However, that doesn’t have to mean working long hours. You should seek to work hard – but work smart too. This means putting effort, determination and focus into your work.

          In other words, make every hour you work count. Everything you do should help the company and yourself grow.

          You should also seek to contribute more, because this opens you up to additional learning opportunities – which will help you to grow.

          How to work smarter? Take a look at the time most people waste going through their emails. It can be hours a day. You can work smarter in this area by utilizing folders, color-coding and auto-responses. By implementing these functions, you can cut down on the amount of emails you receive, easily prioritize your emails, and make searching for old emails much simpler. All of this saves you time to get on with your real work!

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          3. Initiate more, don’t just execute.

          Do you go beyond what’s expected from your role? If not, you definitely should.

          For starters, make sure that you think often about what you can do to improve your work. Don’t just act according to what’s assigned to you. You should also provide feedback, opinions and ideas that will stimulate others.

          Don’t overestimate your own abilities, but do ensure that you go beyond your duties when you can. However, by doing this, you must be prepared to open yourself up to more possibilities for failures and mistakes. To counterbalance this, you will also have more lessons to learn from.

          Think of it this way, if all you do is the work given to you – then you will fail to impress your management team. For senior roles, managers will want go-getters who know how to take calculated risks and use their initiative.

          4. Align your efforts with your company’s goals.

          Your company’s strategies and goals may change once in a while, so it’s important that you keep up-to-date with them. Try to align your effort with these goals, or ask your company about how you can align your work with the direction in which the company is traveling.

          At Lifehack, team members constantly review their tasks and priorities to ensure that they are aligned with the company’s current strategies and goals.

          When your goals are aligned with your company’s goals – your efforts will directly contribute to the company’s direction, and the results will be stronger and more effective.

          5. Become an expert at something.

          Your skills and knowledge should be valuable resources to others. To help increase this, besides job-related skills, build skills that are outside the remit of your job. By doing this, you’ll open yourself up to more opportunities, including, mentoring possibilities and advancement.

          For instance, imagine that you work as an office administrator. The job mostly involves paperwork such as spreadsheets and letter writing. As you are determined to climb the career ladder, you choose to enroll in your own time in a course in office management. Here you learn vital skills such as health and safety rules, supplier coordination and people management. With the extra skills, you find yourself ideally-placed to snap up any office management vacancies that come your way – either within your company, or within a different company.

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          The Four Pillars of Success

            I’ve covered the five essentials for climbing the career ladder, but now I want to add some more tips to help you succeed.

            1. Be a good team player.

            Besides working on tasks, work on your relationships. This means supporting your co-workers, and mentoring them if necessary.

            If you can learn to work well with others, then you’ll quickly find that your work relationships become stronger and more positive. An unexpected benefit of this, is that with better relationships, you’ll find it easier to influence others. (This is a required trait if you’re to be successful in your chosen career.)

            A further benefit of harmonious relationships and teamwork, is that more work will get done – and it will be of a higher standard. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “Two heads are better than one.” In most cases this is absolutely true. For example, if you need to come up with ideas for your company’s annual staff conference, don’t try to do it all by yourself. Instead, ask a colleague or two for their input. You’ll most likely be amazed at what they come up with!

            2. Be generous.

            To be the best employee you can be, stay honest and communicate openly. You should also face challenges with others together – and celebrate good results with others too.

            Share tough works, and share credits. This is how you build good relationships with people you have to work with every day.

            I remember watching a colleague of mine (some years ago) being extremely generous with his time and knowledge when we had several apprentices in the office. He was super-passionate about wanting the apprentices to learn as much as possible, and to help them prepare for their working life. He must have done something right, as one of the apprentices ended up working for us!

            3. Network wisely.

            There is a basic truth in the world of business. The more people you know, and who know you (and like you) – the more opportunities you will encounter.

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            So, to help you succeed in your career, get out and about and meet people. Of course, make sure that you’re meeting the right ones – people who inspire you to grow, and people who you can exchange ideas with.

            Let’s say you work as a freelance graphic designer. Your workload is okay – but could be better. One way to potentially increase the amount of work offers you receive, is to join a local business networking club. Often these are an informal breakfast gathering of local business owners. As you chat over your coffee and croissant, you’ll be putting yourself and your services directly in front of people who may want to hire you. Try it and see!

            4. Keep a record of your own achievements.

            When you don’t keep your accomplishments in a paper or digital file, you may forget them.

            Your achievements should be measurable and quantifiable results that help to keep you focused and on track towards your major goals.

            Another benefit of keeping a record of your achievements, is that you can present this to your current (or future) boss, enabling them to easily and clearly see what you have accomplished.

            While pen and paper may be all you need, I personally recommend you take a look at some of the dedicated goal tracking apps, such as: GoalsOnTrack and Lifetick.

            Put the Principles into Practice

            If anyone tells you that there is a super-fast way to get to the top of the career ladder – it’s a lie.

            Growth is the foundation for climbing higher; and growth takes time. That “super-fast way” doesn’t allow for growth in a person. However, while it takes time to grow, there are ways to accelerate growth. How? By practicing the principles I’ve discussed above.

            Whatever your chosen career, keep learning and putting in effort to everything that aligns with your goals. In time, you’ll reap the rewards.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on January 6, 2021

            14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

            14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

            Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

            In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

            For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

            For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

            Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

            Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

            Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

            How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

            Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

            1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

            Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

            For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

            2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

            Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

            Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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            Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

            3. Create a System

            Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

            This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

            You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

            Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

            Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

            4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

            We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

            If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

            Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

            Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

            5. Use a Ratings Scale

            Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

            Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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            It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

            6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

            This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

            You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

            You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

            7. Offer Feedback Forms

            Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

            First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

            Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

            You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

            8. Track Cost Effectiveness

            This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

            Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

            Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

            9. Use Self-Evaluations

            Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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            Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

            10. Monitor Time Management

            This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

            Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

              The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

              While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

              11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

              We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

              Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

              For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

              Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

              Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

              From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

              12. Utilize Peer Feedback

              This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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              Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

              Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

              It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

              13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

              When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

              Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

              Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

              14. Use an External Evaluator

              Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

              They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

              While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

              Final Thoughts

              These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

              The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

              The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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              Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

              Reference

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