I’ve enjoyed a long career managing talent, supporting people to fulfil their potential and helping ambitious workers to achieve their ambitions. Over the years I have made thousands of decisions on promotions, job moves, career development opportunities and business exits.
In my work as a coach, I’ve also helped people to shape their ambitions, develop their skills and, crucially, secure the promotions or new jobs they’ve always desired.
Here I draw on my experiences to create ten top tips for managing a successful career in a corporation and understanding how best you can rapidly climb the career ladder.
- Deliver results and use them to seek a promotion
Modern businesses have a wealth of assessment methods, development opportunities, feedback systems and appraisal processes. This means leaders can easily view and track a person’s ability to perform and achieve real results.
This is a great opportunity to grow your reputation and career. Make sure you are clear on what is expected of you and focus on delivering results. Make sure you not only build up an impressive track record, but that you also keep a record of these results so you can recall them in a promotion interview.
- Promote your career achievements and ambitions
Firstly, do not confuse this with arrogance or claiming credit for other people’s work. However, it’s important to make sure you shout about your strong track record in an appropriate way.
Make sure key influencers in the workplace are aware of what you are achieving and let them know you are keen to progress. Key influencers may be your line manager, your mentor or sponsor and your HR manager. Again, ensure your personal records and online profiles are up-to-date so you are ready for any new career opportunity.
- Become a role model and behave like a leader
If you are looking for a promotion, consider what sort of behaviours will be expected of you in that role and then display them. The key competencies within your organisation will provide a handy checklist for these key behaviours.
An easy way to get the new job you dream of is to behave as if it’s already yours.
- Find your passion and have the courage to chase the new role
Most important for any career is that you are stimulated, fulfilled and happy in a role. If you’re unsatisfied, it’s going to be extremely hard to secure that promotion.
Spend time reflecting, talking to others, trying things out, noticing what energises you and gradually your ideal role will become apparent. In a large company, you will be able to get support to move into fresh areas you may not have any experience in – if you want it, go for it.
Given that we spend more time at work than anywhere else, you need to make sure you understand what your passion is and have the courage to stick at it and chase your dream.
- Share your career goals with your managers
Remember that your line manager and the decision makers in your organisation are not telepathic. Share your career goals, express interest in key roles at the right time and be authentic.
Think carefully and make sure you are ready for any new role. If a sponsor goes out of the way to support you and you decline a role – they probably won’t do it again.
So, if you really want experience working on the other side of the world, make sure you are committed to it and anyone who may want to come with you (i.e. a partner) also wants this.
- Grow your career by managing your boss
Throughout your career you are going to have some brilliant managers and some who are less inspiring. However, all will have something for you to learn from – even if it’s how not to do something.
Not all managers will have people management as a strength, so it’s important you help them to manage that process. Prepare well for your reviews, be pro-active with your own development, be self-aware and offer constructive feedback when appropriate opportunities arise.
- Learn the art of great feedback and use it every day
Giving and receiving feedback can be challenging, but it’s a skill you need to hone if you want to climb the career ladder. Build on the core skills you have developed and ensure you use them when receiving feedback.
If someone gives you vague feedback, make sure you are equipped with some quality questions to make it more specific. If you become good at giving feedback, you will also help those around you to grow.
- Make the most of every opportunity and enhance your career skills
As the saying goes, every day is a school day. From the people we meet to the tasks we do and the environment around us, there are multiple opportunities to learn something new. Be a sponge, soak it up and use what you learn.
- Improve your career prospects by being agile and adaptable
The workplace is constantly evolving and that brings a range of new challenges and opportunities. Demonstrate that you can learn, adapt and embrace change – these skills are what’s needed in the world of work today and tomorrow.
- Emotional intelligence is key to great leaders
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is now recognised as a key ingredient for great leaders in every business and this skill is a critical element of climbing the career ladder.
EQ sets 90% of leaders apart and remember, as you learn, that it’s the HOW as well as the WHAT? To be a great leader you will need to engage others and bring them with you on the journey. Otherwise, it may be lonely at the top.