1. Have a Plan: If you to fail to plan, you plan to fail. Motivational speaker and life coach, Anthony Robbins, says it best, "If you don't have your own plan, someone else is going to make you fit into their plan."
Looking for a promotion? Thinking about a career change? Then consider this: How many of you would go on a cross-country trip without mapping your trip on your GPS or Google? So why would you go through life without a "life plan"? This is where a mission statement comes in. Do you have a personal and/or career mission statement? If you do not, then create one.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says, "if you don't set your goals based on your mission statement, you may be climbing the ladder of success only to realize, when you get to the top, you're on the WRONG BUILDING." Set realistic goals within a reasonable timeline to provide a tangible framework for your strategy. Define and clarify your short-term versus long-term goals. Set your quarterly, monthly and weekly goals accordingly. Review your goals regularly, celebrate those you've accomplished, and be prepared to modify your life plan or redefine your goals as new situations, options, or opportunities arise.
2. Know and Learn Your Organization's Culture: The culture is an organization's traditions, customs and styles. Organizational cultures vary from country to country, just like language and tradition. It's up to you to learn the culture of your company. Never over-look the importance of culture within an organization. This culture includes everything from dress codes to how we communicate with each other.
Consider this: What are the expectations of your company? Do you all arrive early and stay late? Do you all take short lunches or long leisurely ones? Pop into someone's office without an appointment or set an appointment in advance? Is the code of interaction within the hierarchy of the company formal or informal -- can you meet with someone at a higher level than boss? Getting to know the informal network is more important than learning the formal. The informal network within a company is where the most helpful information lies. Many jobs have been lost or promotions denied because people fail to understand and follow company traditions.
3. Follow Up and Follow Through: Cultivate a reputation as being someone who is reliable -- become an efficient person that your colleagues and boss can count on. Don't just get a project done-- get it done on time, on budget, and correctly. Nothing can damage your brand and reputation faster than having colleagues believe you can not be counted on. Always follow through on everything whether it is an assignment or volunteer work.
4. Master the Art of Public Speaking: Always sound smart when you open your mouth to speak. From initiating interesting and engaging small talk at a cocktail party, to making a business presentation, effective communication is a critical skill for succeeding in the corporate environment. If you are a female this can be your secret weapon. Don't over communicate! Remember Sgt. Friday in the movie Dragnet, "the facts lady just the facts." Avoid excess verbiage and stick to the essential facts of your presentation. Do not fear silence. Remember the saying, "it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Listening attentively will highlight your intelligence whereas empty rambling will not. Speak with confidence while looking people in the eye and keeping your chin up. If you are uncomfortable with public speaking, consider taking a public speaking class to boost your confidence. The ability to present ideas effectively no matter the audience will put you ahead of the class. .
5. Be a Team Player: Life is not a spectator sport and life in business is all about teamwork. Even the Lone Ranger needed to depend on Tonto at times. To achieve and exceed your company's goals requires everyone working together as a team. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Imagine the chaos that would occur if everyone in your department went about solving the same problem their individual ways without engaging each other. Look at any major sports team (baseball, basketball, football) and it is clear that even a star player must depend on his/her teammates while sticking to the coach's game plan. Being part of a team does not mean that you can't shine; it just means you must be prepared to fit the team model.
6. Be Knowledgeable About Your Business: You are in the job you hold because you are an expert in that specific area. To move up the corporate ladder, however, you must become as knowledgeable as you can about the business. Learn the roles and responsibilities of the other departments and how they fit into the company structure. If you are in communications, for example, learn about the company's finances. What is its price earning ratio? If it is a publicly held company, what is the stock worth? If you don't know, find out fast. If you are in HR, learn about the marketing department. What new products are in the works or what improvements are planned for existing ones? By having your skills and expertise extend beyond your current job, you become not only a valuable employee, but a promotable one.
7. The Bottom Line is King: All companies are in business to make MONEY. A simple premise to remember is--"a rising tide lifts all boats." If the company does well, so do you. ---in the form of salary increases,bonuses, and promotions. Everything you do for your job should be perceived as contributing to the company's bottom line, or at least building equity for the company with its key stakeholders. You become an indispensable and promotable employee when you are thought of as innovative, adaptable and fiscally attuned at helping the company save and/or earn money. Don't be shy about sharing your ideas. Develop a reputation as someone who is always thinking of ways to boost the company's bottom line.