Did you know that, according to Pew Research, Millennials are the largest population in the workforce right now? This is why I decided to write this article because I know that we are all trying to get ahead in the game, but sometimes get stuck on HOW to go about it. I want to start off by saying that the career success and growth I have experienced was not created alone. I have been fortunate enough to have various mentors and advocates that allowed me to grow and learn through them. I am the first person in my family to work in corporate America, so learning how to navigate the job market alone was a huge learning curve for me in and of itself. It’s tough enough to explain to my parents what I do on a daily basis, imagine explaining office politics.. NOPE!
I have worked in Human Resources for 11 years at various size companies, industries and cultures and been promoted consistently across my career. I have been fortunate enough to work for companies that place high importance on their company culture, are employee-centric and revolutionary in their operating approaches. Throughout my various experiences, I have worked with all levels of the company, from entry-level employees to executives and have the opportunity to both coach and learn from them. I tend to be a partner in my role, therefore work alongside people to be their advocate, advisor and sometimes therapist (I really need a couch in my office). Hearing the various perspectives, I have come to understand why and how those that are at the top of the organization get there. I hope that some of the things I have learned along the way will help you on your journey to success.
Real talk .. What does it take?
- Learn what that company cares about – AKA, how do they make money and how do you contribute to that larger picture? You are working for a BUSINESS that needs to make money. However, the business’ largest (for the most part) line item on their P&L is their people! SO it ends up being a two-way street. In order to grow in your company you must learn how they make money and how you add value to the bottom line. For example, if you are a sales rep, it is pretty clear. Your sales add up to the net gains of the company. Another example is, if you are a receptionist – what are the duties that you are doing on a daily basis to make the office run smoother? The core of your job is to create efficiencies and organization to save money. Therefore the better you get at that, the more likely you are to get promoted. You slowly make yourself a more valuable player in your field and they want to keep you happy and want you to stay, therefore they promote you.
- Learn what your boss cares about – Your boss hired YOU. Why? That is your challenge. What unique talent, skill, ability, characteristic, behavior(s) makes you unique in your role? There is something about the way you do your job that makes their life easier and you need to hone in on that. Maybe it’s your overarching positive attitude, maybe it is how much of an aggressive sales person you are, maybe it is organizing their lives so that they have to think less, or maybe it’s because you are a problem solver and come to them with more options to solve their problems rather than asking them to solve them for you. Whatever your niche is, find it and capitalize on it. Don’t think this is a guessing game. You can ask them how and why you are valuable to them and the company. A few examples of questions are:
- What would you consider to be my biggest strengths?
- In what area do I add value to the team that others may not?
- Why did you hire me over others in the interview process? What did you see in me?
- What is keeping you up at night about work? How can I help?
- Learn the culture – I learned this one the hard way. What it takes to be successful at one company doesn’t always meet cultural standards at your next company. You may be doing the same job, but the acceptable norms are not the same. You need to take time to learn the culture. What are your peers doing? What are they not doing? Why? What is the next level above you doing and how did they get there? Being able to understand the cultural differences between companies is crucial to your growth because if you cross the boundaries, that will put you in a very negative light which is hard to come back from. However, understanding the culture and staying within the boundaries and adding your talent into it will only make you shine brighter and allow you to thrive.
- Perfect your execution – In other words, after you have figured out why you are there, how the company makes money, how you play into the bigger picture, what is accepted and what isn’t – GRIND! How do you become the BEST at what you do? If you don’t know, look around you and find someone you admire. Why do you admire them? How are they the best? What are the behaviors/actions/habits you should adopt to make you the best? What are their flaws and things you should avoid? We are all human and make mistakes, but learning from other’s as much as possible is to our benefit. Maybe you can ask that person to mentor you. Maybe the best person in your field is outside your company and you need to follow them on social media or read their books. Whatever it may be, work on perfecting your craft every day.
- Work hard – This is a given, but hard work and consistency go a long way. If you are consistently a hard worker, who has all the points above aligned and are in the right job that meets your strengths, you will go places.. Very far places!
- Realize you are still in corporate America – Hate to break it to you, but there are these things called “politics” and “time”. Why do you care? There are certain boundaries you cannot break within a company structure because that just is what it is. These will require you to go through certain hoops, and you will have to be patient. There are also certain things that you can’t accomplish until you are in your field, or in your company long enough because the scenarios just haven’t happened. Remember that good things take time and you need to embrace the journey.
If you feel like you are in a position where you think you need to take the next step and haven’t been able to, I suggest you set a meeting with your boss to review the points above. If you have any other questions or want to chat further, leave a comment below or reach out to me in Instagram. I am more than happy to chat!