This is my first post for the Noomii career blog, so let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Lynden Kidd. I call myself a career strategist and executive coach. As the CEO of Captivating Careers, I’ve been a successful coach and trainer for most of my extensive career and have trained with Kim Giles at Claritypoint Coaching and with Jack Canfield, America’s #1 success coach and co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Also, I’ve been involved in talent acquisition as an executive/professional recruiter for 15+ years. I’ve led more than 300 group or individual training sessions on career development, career planning and employability skills serving 500+ job seekers or executives frustrated with their performance. I’ve interviewed thousands of people, and successfully assisted hundreds to gain new employment. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share with you some of the secrets of being top of your game in your career or in your search for new work.
Rank doesn’t impose privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility – Peter Drucker
Most people bump along in their careers, like leaves in a stream, caught in the current riding along without a plan, buffeted against rocks, rapids, stalled in shallows and slow swirling eddies. I’ve talked with those who rely on the ‘Hope + Pray’ method of promotion. As you might guess, the ‘Hope and Pray’ method is for those who hope in their heart of hearts for promotion, but whom never speak their wish out loud or do anything about their desire. You know these colleagues. They are the perfect employee, perhaps in the cubicle next to yours. These are the ones who are polite, hard working, who never rock the boat, fully promotes the company’s policies and who would die rather than speak ill of the boss. These are the people that rely on the ‘Hope+Pray’ method – and it usually doesn’t work. I’d like to suggest a different approach to landing the promotion you deserve.
There are a rare few who decide to focus on expanding their work experience. They have confidence and intentionality about their career and declare they want a promotion and are prepared to act on that. First steps with my clients always includes an exploration of where they ultimately want to be. If you’ve read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki you’ll recall a key recommendation was to take jobs where important skills could be learned. Recently, I was working with a client who was was comparing two job options and seeking advice about which to select. I observed he was a natural leader and as a finance executive, asked if he wanted to advance into a CEO role one day. Startled at the question, he responded that he had always thought he would end up with a company of his own or leading one. So, I asked, ‘what do you need to learn next to grow into the leader you want to become?’ After reviewing his strengths, he concluded a shift into a new industry would be the most valuable choice because he would learn the most; rather than to continue on the same path in simply a larger company.
It was Stephen Covey’s seminal work, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, which clearly articulated how important it is to have a vision of what you want to do. Knowing a longer term career objective allows you to prepare for ALL the responsibilities of that job and to make better decisions along the way. If you need help with determining your course of travel – the objective and extra set of sharp eyes of an executive coach or career coach will be invaluable as you chart your direction.
Knowing where you want to end up frames your next step – whether with your current employer or moving on to another one where you can get the practical experience you need.
We tend to underestimate the value of learning from an experienced insider. Having the ear, wisdom and guidance of a trusted mentor can turn your career on high more quickly than going it alone. Allowing yourself to learn from another, who has already experienced what you face, enables you to move more quickly through challenges, or skip steps altogether.A recent international banker client was concerned about being sidelined as a developing leader if she misread cultural cues in a highly conservative company. She was up for a promotion and wanted to assure she created a good rapport with her male partner level supervisor. She sought out and identified a successful female leader (in another branch of the company), who was more experienced and well-respected in the firm, who agreed to be a mentor to her. That meant that the mentor would help in evaluating options, analyze situational leadership challenges and guide my client to avoid much of the internal intrigue and corporate drama. The results were immediate, and my client moved effectively through challenge after challenge with greater confidence because of the valuable, experienced, insider support she obtained from this mentor.
On the flip side, this client was also asked to mentor a newly promoted female manager in her branch. Stepping up as a mentor gave her a fresh perspective about what to share with her mentee that was most valuable. It also helped her learn how she could continue to support the rich history of the company and be effective within the conservative culture. Last, she learned how to offer better advice to another which helped with her direct reports. Ultimately, she went on to achieve the promotion.
Be sure that, at a minimum, you are doing the job you were hired to do. But more than that, be proactive and get involved in resolving other issues beyond your scope of work. In other words, you can’t expect to be promoted if your work isn’t what it should be; so assure you are doing what is expected and then figure out what you can to raise the bar. I encourage my clients to ask for feedback from all those they work with routinely – no waiting for a formal evaluation. Routinely checking with your boss, your boss’ boss, your peers, your support staff and vendors/clients to gauge your success is important. I suggest the following question to use (which I learned from one of my mentors, Jack Canfield):
“On a scale of one to ten, with ten being high, how am I doing in our work together/or on behalf of our company?”
Then, listen for the answer. No matter the rank, if the answer isn’t a ten then ask, “What would it have taken to made your answer a ten?”
The responses you get should provide plenty of opportunities to improve and to confirm you are on track. Don’t be afraid of asking often. Your tenacity to improve shows your commitment to the company and your growth. It is noticed.
In pursuit of promotion you also need to demonstrate effective priority setting and informal team leadership. When you take on big visible projects, there is a tendency to take on too much. Don’t neglect to recalibrate often with your boss and invite input rather than be perceived as too independent and possibly rogue. Always take your focus back to the problems you are solving and the value they add.
Your next promotion or your ultimate career end goal may require you to acquire additional skills, training and experience. While planning your career course (with a career or executive coach), be sure to identify the resources you might need to become the professional you desire. There could be a certification or skills course offered by your professional association, local community college or an executive management program from one of the top schools in the country that would help you advance. Be on the lookout for what’s right for you. Also, don’t discount the many MOOCs (massive online open course) or another form of online study which could help you grow your knowledge.
Also, don’t ignore your trade journals, local business journals or other supportive publications – including competitors’ annual reports to stay top of your game.
Last, know your value and be prepared to speak to it. You need an articulate personal branding statement. That means you need to be able to talk about who you are, what you do; plus be engaging while addressing the value you add in a brief statement. Don’t regurgitate your job description, truly speak to how you’ve added value to the company and what are your beliefs and philosophy about work.
Be prepared to review your goals and objectives bi-annually. Have target dates in mind for benchmark objectives to be reached. Also be tenacious to stay on track and keep yourself there. Life happens, but those who are focused, confident and prepared, have a solid network of support and nurture that network, well they land on their feet and get the promotion they deserve. Be responsible for your outcomes – all of them. Good luck.
Lynden Kidd is the CEO and Chief Career Strategist with Captivating Careers. A successful and sought after executive coach, trainer, author, and speaker, she is a hiring process expert. As an accomplished career consultant, Lynden has interviewed thousands of job seekers, led more than 300 career development training sessions serving 500+ job seekers resulting in employment and enhanced job performance for hundreds of professionals.