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9 Ways To Speed Up Your Career Advancement

9 Ways To Speed Up Your Career Advancement

Career advancement is harder than it used to be. During the decades after World War 2, steady economic growth meant many opportunities. Today, many are torn between the aftermath of the 2007-2009 recession and the incredible possibilities described by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler in their ground breaking book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. Economic problems and distress are both present in our world. You get to choose what you want to focus on.

Let’s look at nine ways you can pick up the pace in your career advancement.

1. Work On Goals That Matter

It is difficult to get ahead when you don’t care about your daily work. Pursuing exciting goals is one of the key insights I learned from Michael Hyatt’s approach to goal setting. In the career context, you will probably receive annual goals from your employer (or client). If these goals fail to excite you, then set at least one goal to advance your career (e.g. learn new skills – see point 3 below) this year. If you don’t have stimulating goals, it will be difficult to muster the enthusiasm needed to get ahead.

2. Use A Reliable Personal Organization System

Personal organization is an essential skill to getting ahead. While technology helps, effectiveness in this area ultimately comes down to habits and using the right systems. For example, successful professionals know how to run a meeting. In addition, you need the capability to thrive in a rapidly changing world (i.e. no more complaining about the pace of change). Everyone can improve their personal organization by studying books such as Getting Things Done by David Allen.

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Tip: Learn how Dwight Eisenhower stayed focused and organized: How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”.

3. Learn To Earn More

Delivering more value in your career is an essential skill to getting ahead. After six to twelve months in a given role, many of us become comfortable with the routine work we are expected to complete. That`s why you cannot assume your skills and knowledge will continue to grow at your day job. To expand your horizons, check out this list of 51 training resources.You can start by using free resources on the Internet – however, you are more likely to commit effort and attention if you pay your own money for training.

Tip: As an adult, you decide the best way to learn. Experiment with different approaches such as self-study (e.g. reading books), traditional classes and hiring someone to give you individual training and advice.

4. Navigate Power Like A Prince

Author Robert Greene reminds us that power is a reality in our daily work. That means taking the time to understand how powerful people can improve your career. For example, George Washington`s career expanded at a dramatic pace because he had powerful friends. Even if you are not seeking the CEO`s position, it pays to understand power and the priorities of people who make decisions. Otherwise, you risk being left in the cold in the next economic downturn.

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To expand your network and increase your power, use the following resources:

8 Networking Tricks To Help You Socialize In Any Event

7 Habits To Win In Office Politics

5. Maintain Focus on Results Rather Than Time

Many of us start our careers earning money as a hourly wage. Unfortunately, that early experience means you start equate `time worked`with `value created.` Nothing could be further from the truth. If you sit in your chair and stair out the window for an hour, the company lost money (and your reputation may take a hit).

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6. Exploit All of Your Benefits

If you work at a large company, you have a vast wealth of benefits at your disposal. At first glance, you will probably think about health and retirement benefits. Those are absolutely essential and well worth your effort. If you have complicated forms or paperwork to complete, it is a small price to pay. Even if you have to sacrifice one or two lunch hours to sort out your benefits, it is well worth it.

Using all of your benefits advances your career because this practice reminds you of your value. On another level, you’re also training yourself to work through corporate bureaucracy to achieve your goals.

7. Give Time, Attention And More To Your Network

As poet John Donne wrote, no man is an island. To get ahead in your career, especially at senior levels, your network makes the difference. There are no application forms (or online postings) for many of the best roles. Instead, people in your network are your resource. However, few people enjoy responding to desperate pleas for job hunting help. Start by giving value to your network: remember birthdays (send a card or gift), introduce people by email and otherwise (e.g. “Jane, meet Tim – you are both database experts and I think you would enjoy chatting”) and simply stay in touch.

How To Be The Most Interesting Person At A Networking Event 

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Read Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins by Jayson Gaignard. This is an innovative approach to improving your network by organizing dinners.

8. Protect The Asset By Keeping Up Your Health

In the short term, it is easy to imagine that you can trade your health for career advancement. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous habit to build. Instead, take note from highly productive people such as President Obama (who works out on a regular basis) and British billionaire Richard Branson who fit fitness into their daily schedule.

Keeping up your health is good for your career because physically fit people tend to have more energy and better focus throughout the day. For an extended discussion of the mental health benefits of exercise, read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Harvard professor John J. Ratey.

9. Develop Conflict Management Skills

In the world of career advancement, you will face conflict. It is a fact that other people have different goals and interests: those differences often lead to conflicts. Unsuccessful people tend to struggle with conflicts. Instead, recognize that you can learn conflict resolution techniques to work through these problems. Handling conflict with confidence is a hall mark of executives and many other highly successful people.

Featured photo credit: Entrepreneur Start Up/StartupStockPhotos via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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