I talk to dozens of people every month who feel stuck in their careers.
Every day people tell me about their long hours, getting home well past dinner, or going back to work in the evenings. Missing time with their families and friends, staying up late, and having that affect their sleep, their health.
They tell me about all of the extra efforts they make, rolling up their sleeves and jumping in to do what needs to be done. Some of them tell me they are on the edge of burnout – exhausted, anxious, no longer enjoying their work – or even their lives.
Despite all of this work and effort – all of these sacrifices – they’re not getting ahead. There’s no promotion in sight and hardly even any recognition. It’s shameful. In my ideal world, bosses would notice when people are giving their all and would honor that. But in this world, too often, bosses are just as busy, overwhelmed, and burned out.
Unfortunately, that means that getting the recognition and rewards you deserve is up to you. Watch the video below or read the text that follows to learn some steps you can take to make sure you’re getting noticed and are setting yourself up for that next promotion.
Get really strategic about your efforts.
Too often, people I talk to are doing a whole lot of different tasks that don’t really add up to making an impact in their careers. They don’t have a clear strategy. They haven’t identified the levers that will make the biggest difference for their companies or for their own careers. When you can map out the work in front of you in relation to your goals, you can focus on the work that matters. That’s useful at all levels – for you, personally, but also for your team. They need to know what to focus on and understand what they can do to have the biggest impact. Without that clarity, they too are overwhelmed and at risk of burnout – which translates into higher turnover and even more work for you. The only way to get out of overwhelm is to be strategic and to make choices about what you will and won’t do.
Make sure your work is visible.
Another challenge I see far too often is really smart, thoughtful people who don’t know how to showcase their work. This isn’t something that’s taught in school or even early in your career. Your teachers and early supervisors usually have a pretty close eye on what you’re doing. They see your wins and know what you’re interested in. As you move up, however, you have a broader scope of responsibilities and interests, and so does your boss. That can make it difficult for them to know what you’re actually working on, or even to be aware of your accomplishments. In the face of so much work, they may lose sight of what you really want or what would be the right next move for you.
That’s why you need ways to communicate about your successes and your interests. That helps your boss know what you’re capable of – and also helps them represent you to others.
It can be uncomfortable to talk about yourself and your wins, particularly if you’ve been raised to never brag or be in the spotlight. Luckily, there are ways to showcase your work without coming across as braggadocious or like you’re fishing for compliments (or promotions!).
Play to your strengths.
To really make the most of your time and energy, you need to play to your strengths. That means being crystal clear about what you bring to the table. What is your leadership style, and what unique contribution can you make because of it? So many people focus on filling in gaps in their skills or style and lose sight of what they’re truly good at. When you use your strengths, you can have a bigger impact with less effort. Bringing your best to your interactions makes you more effective. You’ll feel better about yourself – and then that impacts how you come across to others. People are more likely to follow you, listen to you, and take you seriously when you seem confident. You’re more likely to seem confident if you’re working from your strengths.
I’m not saying you should ignore opportunities to learn and grow. It’s important to expand beyond your strengths and build new ones. But that feels vastly different than trying to make up for a gap or deficiency.
Learn how to elicit clear expectations and useful feedback.
I hear it all the time: The boss says you’re doing great. They give you good ratings. They give you additional assignments. But then, when it’s time for a promotion, they say you’re “not ready yet.” And you have no idea why. There’s no clear information or guidance about how exactly to get to the next level.
Creating a development plan with your boss is a way to avoid this situation. The plan outlines what it will take for you to move from your current role to the next one – skills to demonstrate, results to achieve, experiences to cultivate.
Once the plan is in place, you’ll need regular feedback so you can make sure you’re progressing. This can come from your boss, your peers, and your team members. You need to know how to ask for feedback that will give you the specifics you need. Good feedback will tell you precisely what you did that either moved you toward your goals or held you back. It’s behavioral, so you know what to do – or not do – next time. Getting to this kind of feedback often requires collaboration to move past opinions and generalities to specific, observable data you can use. Knowing how to ask for this without coming across as defensive is a very useful skill.
Build and leverage key relationships.
The number one reason that people get ahead despite having less experience, less education, and even fewer results is that they are better at building relationships. The old saying is, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Smart people everywhere roll their eyes when they hear this. It sounds smarmy to go out and build relationships just to get ahead. And, well, if that’s what you’re doing, it is smarmy. So don’t do that.
Instead, focus on building authentic relationships. Find people you admire in your organization or in your field and ask them about things you care about. You’ll build genuine connections with people. They’ll get to know and like you for who you are. Then, when they hear of opportunities, they’ll think of you – just like you’ll think of them when you come across a resource that they may be interested in. As a result, you’ll build a mutual relationship, where you each support one another and gain from it. That’s not smarmy. That’s smart.
Want help applying these strategies in your own career so you can get the promotions and pay raises you deserve? Let us help you map out a game plan for that. Schedule your free career breakthrough call here to learn more: https://www.zmcoach.com/apply