If you want to move ahead in your company, or position yourself for a job change, there are certain basics that will help move you forward.
Be effective: First and foremost, do the job that is expected of you, and do it exquisitely well. Be consistent and reliable too.
Make your boss look good: Too many career climbers seek ways to push their boss out of the way or climb over their boss. Take the opposite approach and find ways to help your boss do his/her job even more easily and with better results. When your boss gets noticed he/she will find the way to bring you up and along too.
Add value to every encounter: Every meeting, presentation, informal discussion is an opportunity – not to show off, not to one-up others – but to add value to your company, a situation, or the other person’s work effort. Ask meaningful questions that enable others to find their solutions more easily.
Get people to like you: Up and comers are often disliked. People are jealous. Sometimes co-workers are fearful of being “shown up” or worse, passed over because someone better is there. Take the time and make the effort to be genuine to each person. Assume that there is something golden within everyone and find it. Ask people to lunch. Just asking “how was your weekend?” can be a valuable ice-breaker. Be careful of hidden enemies, and keep them close too.
Take initiative: The single best behavioral predictor of promotion is initiative. Go above and beyond what is expected. Tell your boss you have more capacity, and can do more. Watch for opportunities to pitch in and help your boss, team and co-workers. Identify something that needs doing, and offer to do it. Not just once, but often. Initiative gets noticed.
Be solution-focused: All CEOs tell us that they want their direct reports to come in not just with a problem, but with the proposed solution in mind. Don’t just complain; suggest an alternative. Be discrete and selective (so you don’t look like someone who wants to fix everything), and do your homework to ensure your proposed solution might work.
Be open-minded: You might get noticed by an executive in another department or business unit that then recruits you to their team. Don’t box yourself into a role – be open to exploring other functions. If someone above you sees potential in a new area, they might be right!
Become well-rounded: Whenever possible, seek chances to learn and grow, especially beyond your assigned task area. If you know more than others around you, you might be considered “underutilized”, and ready for more.
Get a mentor: People are often promoted because a particular person above them took an interest and served as their “champion” for bigger and better things.
Luck is where preparedness meets opportunity, so take some steps to position yourself for that next move up.