Monday, February 4, 2013

5 Reasons I Climbed the Corporate Ladder

Wherever you are in your career, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran, it’s important to examine the steps that got you to your position.  I like to think that my own career is going pretty well, and I can’t help but wonder what has made me different that some of my other colleagues who might have not fared so well.  I spent some time thinking about my own characteristics, and the many times I’ve had the chance to receive feedback from my managers (not always good by the way).  One thing I noticed is that I am not particularly smarter or more innovative then my fellow comrades, so what makes a career?  Below are my 5 characteristics which got me to where I am.
1.)    Learn as much as you can.
When I first started out in the banking field right out of college, I quickly realized that I knew practically nothing.  Sure, I could talk your head off about enlightenment philosophes, however the intricacies of a mortgage loan being funded were beyond me.  It was a humbling experience realizing that right off the bat, I didn’t have too much to offer.  I quickly determined that I need to start my working education as soon as possible.  To accomplish this, I started asking questions and volunteering on assignments that would extend my knowledge base.  I learned basic statistical coding, picked up a book on VBA coding, and tried to educate myself as much as possible.  Soon enough, I found that I could contribute in meetings and started making a name for myself.

2.)    Find ways to demonstrate your worth.
This concept links nicely with the previous one.  While you are trying to learn as much as possible, you are actually increasing your human capital and overall worth to your organization.  Once you start developing a knowledge base, you can now start volunteering on the assignments that your manager or other important figures find important.  The caveats to all this is to make sure you can actually complete the assignment, and make sure you do a good job.  Managers will not look on you favorably if you deliver a piece of crap. 

3.)    Become dependable.
Woody Allen once said “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”  It is the great white lie in American culture to take “sick days”.  It’s true that if you are really sick, you should not come to work and spread the disease, however I find it hard to believe that you are sick enough to not come into work 8 days a year.  I’m only really sick maybe once every other year or so, and it’s pretty much assumed that I will always be at work on time.  Dependability is one of the most valuable traits in the workforce.  In fact, managers will often prefer dependability over the risk of failure.  Consider a manager looking to hire in a position that would be a promotion to you.  That manager can either hire from outside the company and risk getting either someone better than you or possibly much worse, or they know for a fact you will do a good job.  They will almost always prefer you.  Make your reputation one of dependability and excellence.  If you can’t make it into work for whatever reason, figure out a way to work from home, or make it up by coming in on a weekend.

4.)    Be pro-social
People are often classified as varying shades of introvert and extrovert.  Whereas both of these characteristics have their place in the workforce, it is often beneficial to the employee if they have a “pro-social” attitude.  Talking with your coworkers about informal topics and generally being able to carry on a conversation are much more favored traits then sitting quietly at your desk.  Reach out and talk to someone!

5.)    Have a clear vision in mind.
You’re never going to get further in your career unless you have some sort of idea on where you want to go.  Easier said than done, right?  The best way to get an idea of where you want to go is to look at where other people work.  If someone has a job that sounds interesting to you, set a goal to reach that position.  By setting goals for yourself, you’ll get a better understanding on whether you are on track or not.

Like I said earlier, I was never a source of genius or some other form of brilliant ideas, but through dependability, and general good social behavior, I was able to climb the corporate ladder.  What traits make you up, and are they the ones management will look for?

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Reliving the Super Bowl commercials.

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