You have a wonderful position with a great company, but are already thinking about the next position you will hold. What? You are not?! Well, according to Richard Templar and his 2005 book The Rules of Work: The Unspoken Truth About Getting Ahead in Business (Pearson publishing), you should be! In his book, Richard examines his successful climb to the top of his career path. He provides a set of work rules to live by, in hopes to help you succeed towards your dream position. For example, according to Richard, you should always find a good thing to say about co-workers and never speak negatively. Richard provides you his guidance in avoiding business pitfalls, and feels you should be acting and dressing for the next position you wish to hold with the company. Now, you are thinking, “I already knew these rules!” Well bare with Richard, I mean “me,” as I examine the book and the rules provided. I will point out that Richard’s rules have validity, but we can’t all be managers at our companies, there are not enough management positions for all of us! In Richard’s book, rule number 30 is to “Look for Opportunities”, but Richard’s opportunities are about finding a moment with Senior Management and providing insight about the company. Yes, I agree, if you get a moment with the Senior Managers, you should take the opportunity to share your business story. However, within every department or business unit, there are concrete opportunities to help the business. This is a great way to have upper management take notice of your efforts. The first step is to know what an opportunity looks like. Last month, my company laid off employees in an adjacent department. One of the people laid off was a report writer, like me. When his position became vacant, the work he was completing no longer was being worked upon. Realizing the bind the department was placed in with the layoff, I informed the Director of that department, that I would be willing to help with reporting needs. Unfortunately, the work was not available for me to complete, however, the Director thanked me for my offer. The good thing is that Director will remember me for volunteering to help. It may lead to future work opportunities or even better, she may need to hire that position and my name may be remembered for the position! Not to say that this would always work in your favor, but to realize that the department may need a help to get through a tough time, is the opportunity you should be looking for. A word of caution, make sure you are not going to step upon another person’s skill-set! When you put your volunteer notification out there, be sure to avoid conflicts from both your immediate manager and team members. Always act in a positive light towards the goal of helping others. An opportunity may look like this: a way to improve a process or write about a procedure to complete the process better. When you do move on, the next associate will have your technical documentation for review. Once you see an opportunity, pounce upon it and do a great job, but don’t allow your assigned work to deteriorate in quality or delivery times! A second way to stand out is to build a cheer team. I want you to realize who you are interacting with on the job. When you are assigned a project with another department, don’t assume that the members of this project are only working on that deadline. They may be working on that project, but have other very important work to be accomplished sooner. I am on a testing team for a product. Our deadline is Friday! However, when speaking with the Team Test Lead, she indicated that another project is of higher priority. I simply informed her that I am ready when she is and if she should need a hand, I will provide the assistance to keep our testing moving forward. This conversation accomplishes two work goals with the Test Lead, 1. It provides the lead a chance to work on her higher prioritized project without worrying about the upcoming deadline on the less prioritized project. Secondly, now the Test Lead remembers that I can be flexible in assisting her to meet both goals. She will remember that Mark was a very patient and helpful asset to the project team. She will want to work with me again. Having cheerleaders in your organization is the way people will remember you when it is time for your promotion or next position! Building your cheer team will increase your exposure to the hiring managers! I do recommend this book. The guidance, Richard provides, help you develop a plan to reach your future position. Mark Dubay is a a seasoned Business Analyst/T-SQL Report Writer for a large communications company, in San Antonio, Texas. In his own words, "I have a fantastic wife, of nearly 10 years, and two wonderful kids. I have a well-rounded life balancing family, play, and work!" Mark can be reached on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/mdubay and Twitter http://twitter.com/mdubay.
February 26, 2009