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How to Move up within a Company – Career Progression Secrets

How to Move up within a Company – Career Progression Secrets

This is for the people out there who want to have a bigger positive impact and be more influential within their company. This is not for ‘climbers’ who just want to rise for the sake of rising. This is for people with serious career progression in mind who want to move up using ethical strategies.

In 5 years, I have figured out how to rise to one of the top positions within a government department that has serious competition for the best roles. By rising quickly, I have become the youngest Senior Adviser by far, have doubled my income, and don’t have any particular qualifications.

The strategies I’m about to share with you are about how to take your strengths and turn them into an asset for the company you work for. This is about combining what you love most with some boundaries to ensure that your rise up the ranks is relatively risk-free. Follow this guide to become irreplaceable, with a widely known reputation for performance, integrity and results.

You can ask almost anyone in the Department I work for, and they will have heard good things about me. Not only that, they will know me as a high achiever and solid performer. We’re talking hundreds of people, including some I’ve never even met. Don’t get me wrong, some of them do not like me at all, but I am confident they at least respect me.

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I’m not a better person than anyone else–I have simply learned the steps on how to create a rock-solid reputation, where I’m well known and respected. For the first few promotions, I had to apply 3 or 4 times before I got them. For my last promotion, I pretty much walked onto the job due to my reputation alone. Now, I have other services trying to poach me.

I’m no better than you–you can be in this same situation if you apply the following rules and techniques to build up your reputation. Try the steps below and see how you go.

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO

1. Proactively identify the company’s biggest problems and contribute to solving them

Offer to design and deliver training sessions to staff on how to do something better. Ask your boss and other senior staff what the company needs to fix and then figure out how to help fix it. Just showing your support will help you get the “company-focused problem solver” label, which is an awesome way to be seen.

I once accidentally got sent minutes from a meeting of senior managers, and in these notes they specifically mentioned me as a “secret weapon.” This is how you want to be known. By solving problems no one else is taking on, you make yourself valuable, because you create a role that wasn’t there before which only you can fill.

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2. Support your manager

Know that your boss is always going to pretty much be a mandatory referee for you. This does not mean suck up to them or become their slave. But it does mean you need to recognize that you are paid to make their job easier, not harder. If you want to assert yourself, that’s fine, but in the end, your boss has the final say and you need to respect that.

Having a reputation as difficult to manage will be the single biggest barrier to getting promoted. Bosses love having someone support them, as being a manager/leader can feel like it’s you versus the world. They often have pressures from above you don’t know about.

3. Ask for more challenging work

Always ask your boss to stretch your comfort zone and prepare you for greater things. Tell your boss you have hopes of moving up and are interested in any extra-ordinary tasks that could help you develop. Tell your boss that all you want from them in exchange for hard work and loyalty is the opportunity and freedom to develop. There’s nothing I like more as a manager than having a new staff member asking me to mold them into a superstar.

4. Self-promote shamelessly

Don’t brag, but don’t be too humble and shy either–no one else can be relied on to talk you up. A great way to do this is send out emails to large portions of the company with regular recommendations or tips (not too frequent as to be annoying though). Every job I’ve had, I’ve found a reason to send out a fortnightly newsletter that provides valuable information for others. It’s probably the best way to get your name out there.

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5. Get a coach

Make sure you take every available opportunity to receive mentoring, particularly from people higher up the chain than you. Listen to what they say, and take their advice. They’re more likely to know what you need than anyone else, but even more importantly, they can steer you away from mistakes that may damage your reputation. And making a good name with higher-ups could really pay out for you!

When I apply for a role, my referees are some of the most senior people in the company, and they can all vouch for me because they’ve coached me personally. I went to them for coaching; I didn’t wait for an offer.

6. Always own your mistakes and take responsibility for fixing any mistakes with your name attached to them

It’s OK to get things wrong as long as you own up immediately with integrity, and offer solutions. Not admitting mistakes or passing the blame might work in politics, but in business, you’ll be seen as someone who doesn’t take responsibility and can’t be relied on to take necessary risks safely. Simply say, “I messed up, but I’ve fixed it by doing x, y and z.” If you’re part of a team that screws up, while everyone else is blaming each other you can say, “The damage is done, let’s just own it and fix it.” Show leaderships skills.

7. Take every development opportunity

Show the company that you’re interested in a range of work, particularly anything that will help the company, even if you don’t get more financial reward. With everyone switching careers every two seconds these days, companies must be craving loyal employees they can mold into ideal leaders.

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THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO

1. Send emails or other written communication in the heat of the moment

If you receive an email or phone message that makes you emotional, write a reply and then save it in draft. Come back to it the next day (or at least take as long as you’re allowed to respond). Once you’ve cooled off, ask yourself “How can I respond to this in a way that shows I am un-phased and professional in all situations?”

Better yet, try calling or seeing the sender in person. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to diffuse conflict when you can involve body language, eye contact and voice tone. Diplomacy and conflict resolution are highly sought after skills.

2. Formally challenge a hiring decision

You missed out on the promotion? Tough. Do not challenge it, because even though this may be an option, ultimately you lose. First, you have questioned the integrity of the hiring panel, so now they hate you. Second, you come across as a poor sport who does not accept feedback, so you’re now seen as litigious and “hard to manage.” Third, you’ve now pissed off and undermined the person who got the job and who may very well be in a position to influence how higher-ups see you. You just can’t win, so even when it’s unfair, suck it up and ask the panel for feedback on what you need to improve for next time.

3. Go over your boss’s head (unless you have a really legitimate complaint)

There are some awful managers out there, and if you suspect you are being held back by one, go to your union or another representative before you back-stab your boss to their superiors. If you do get to the point where you need to escalate something because your boss is being awful, do it openly. Tell them you’re going to do it, that it’s nothing personal, that you’re just trying to look out for your career. But really, most people I see doing this don’t have a legitimate beef and just look like trouble-makers. You’re better off trying to get into another team or something.

4. Try to please everyone

The only people who need to be impressed by you are those who will decide whether or not you get promoted. For a long time (and probably still) I had a reputation among my peers as “The Golden Boy.” They made fun of me behind my back because I was always doing a good job, never challenged the Department’s core values, and was always solving problems that had nothing to do with my role.

Nowadays, it’s my job to tell them how to do their job. I’m even coaching some of them! If I had tried to please them I would have never been promoted. The only person you should try to please is you, but you should also aim to impress those who actually matter to your career goals. Everyone else can either support you or get the hell out of your way, period.

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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