This post contains some hard truths, but they are truths that you need to know if you want to make progress in your career. Moving up the promotion ladder in the workplace involves tactics. I’m sorry if you thought it was simply down to your qualifications. But when you are looking to rise up the corporate ranks you’d better make sure that you have a strong plan!
Think about it this way, if you work for a large company, you are just another face in the office (I did warn you that this post contains some hard truths!)
So making progress in your career can be a tough task when there are fifty people around you who all do a similar job. Imagine if a top manager walked into your office looking for someone to promote, what would make you look any different to all the other employees around you? See what I mean? And that’s why I say you need tactics and a plan.
It’s Hard To Jump If Your Shoes Are Glued To The Floor
If you have worked at the same workplace for a number of years, and you haven’t been promoted at any stage, then it’s even harder to get promoted. Sure, you could get a promotion simply because other people have left, and you’re the last one standing. But that’s not a brilliant tactic as it can take years. Or, it may never happen at all.
Moving up the career ladder is achieved most effectively when you plan to move up the career ladder, rather than merely waiting for a random opportunity to come along. If you sit back and wait, then the guy who already ‘planned’ his move will indeed get the position he planned for. While you are still sitting there and waiting.
It really is hard to jump if your shoes are glued to the floor. So don’t believe for a second that just sitting at your desk doing the same task day-in-day-out will get you the position you yearn for.
Taking action is the only realistic way that you are going to succeed in this game (and it is a game!)
Saying that, taking action in anything, is the only way to make progress. Top sports people have never won gold medals by sitting back in their chairs and hoping that somebody gives them one!
It’s A Clear Night And The Sky Is Full Of Stars
That title conjures up a nice, peaceful image don’t you think?
But that title hides a very powerful plan to make progress in your career.
A number of years ago I started working at a new workplace. I was just like all the other new-starters and I had to pass my interview, and then go through the basic training sessions.
It was quite a large company and it had about one hundred employees. It also had a manager at the top who was in charge of all operations.
But I started this new job with a plan. I even told my family what my plan was. And this was what I told them: “In one year I will be the top manager of this company.”
And I meant it.
I was wrong however, I became the top manager in fourteen months, so I was two months late :)
How can a brand new employee become the manager in just over a year?
Let’s go back to the title of this section and I’ll explain it.
The night before I started working at the new office, I was at home having a smoke outside my house. It was late and I was thinking about the next day when I’d be walking into my new job. I looked up at the sky and it was full of stars. It was a truly beautiful clear sky. I noticed one star that was brighter than the rest, and it caught my attention.
That’s when it hit me!
It’s the brightest star that gets noticed!
Imagine a sky filled with billions of stars, but just one caught my attention!
I understood from that very second that this would be my philosophy. If one solitary star can get me to notice it, then I can be that one star in my company of just one hundred people, and I can get noticed too.
I simply had to be the brightest star!
Let’s Shine Baby!
So, it’s one thing being a shining celestial body which is millions of light years away from Earth, compared to being a new guy starting work at a new office (I’ll grant you that.)
But the principle of ‘being noticed’ is the same.
Typically, if you look around the average office, you’ll see that most people are the ‘average’ stars. They are great people, but nobody stands out for any particular reason. You’ll also notice some medium-sized stars. These people are generally noticed because of their louder personalities, or perhaps they are supervisors. Then you’ll see the brightest star, the unmistakenly obvious one that shines brighter than the rest – and that is the boss.
Where you end up, depends upon how brightly you can shine.
I won’t Pretend That Shining Brightly Is Easy
But then, being the boss isn’t easy either. So don’t expect an easy ride!
It takes a LOT of confidence to be the brightest star every time you walk into the workplace. For my plan to work I knew that I had to get noticed from the first minute that I walked into my new job. I’d then need to keep up that tactic if I was going to succeed.
So, I first had to undertake one week of training for my new job. There was a group of about 20 people starting on the same day as myself. For the first stage of my plan, therefore, I simply had to be the brightest star out of twenty people (easier than needing to be brighter than a billion other stars, I think you’ll agree.) So, for the entire week of training, I made certain that I excelled at every task. I also volunteered to be the first person to do the embarrassing tests like standing up to give speeches Etc.
Whatever task came up during the training, I made sure that I’d do all the stuff that other trainees felt scared about doing.
At the end of the training, I was like the brightest star that I had seen in the sky outside my house when I had stood there thinking about starting my new job.
The trainer noticed, and the trainer reported his notes to the supervisors and managers as they always do after inducting new trainees.
I was now the brightest star in a small sky. Next, I’d need to be the brightest star in a slightly larger sky.
Supervisors Shine Quite Brightly Too!
My next mission was to become a Supervisor (Spoiler Alert … I grabbed that title within two months of starting my new job.)
The great thing about the structure of large companies is that people are divided into small groups. The training group as I mentioned earlier, was around twenty people. Now that I had been assigned to a Supervisor, that Supervisor was the head of twelve people (me being one of the twelve.)
This meant that I now simply needed to be the brightest star out of twelve people.
You may think that this would be difficult, as the team I joined would be comprised of eleven other people who’d worked there for many years, and they’d all be much more experienced than myself.
Well, experience simply means that they know what buttons to press. But they all come to work, press the buttons, then they go home. Yawn. In other words, their shoes were glued to the floor (remember my sub-heading from earlier?)
As far as I was concerned, if these guys were happy to push the same buttons for five years and not look for a promotion, then that was fine by me! I simply had to shine brighter than them to get noticed by my own Supervisor (whom of course reports back to the Manager.)
Two months in, and I was promoted to Supervisor level.
Company Owners and Company Directors Are Even Brighter Stars Than The Managers
That is worth remembering!
I needed to keep this fact in mind because I wanted the Managers’ job.
I couldn’t shine brighter than the Manager – to the Manager, as he wouldn’t see me past his own brightness.
But the Company Directors and the Company Owner would visit the office frequently (once per week as it turned out.) These were the people that needed to notice my brightness!
Fortunately, the Company Directors and the Company Owner, liked speaking to the Supervisors, because Supervisors notice the finer details that the Manager may not see on a day-to-day basis. I was, of course, a Supervisor by this stage, so I had the full attention of these higher authorities.
I Have To Confess That Luck Played My Best Ever Hand
They say that successful people aren’t lucky, but that lucky people create their own good fortune by their own actions. And while I agree with that statement wholeheartedly, I also have to say that what happened next was pure luck!
I had now worked for this company for fourteen months and I’ll admit that my biggest problem was how to take over the Manager’s job. The Manager had no reason to leave as their pay was very good.
Over the months, however, I had got to know the Owner and Directors very well. I think it’s safe to say that they trusted my judgment. They were also aware that I had risen up the ranks pretty swiftly and they respected that also.
But the Managers’ chair was still filled by the Managers’ butt.
Short of assassination, I was running out of ideas. I was sharing the ‘brightest star’ spot alongside the Manager. The night sky according to my theory, can only have one brightest star.
Then it happened.
Was it luck or the hand of some unseen power?
The Manager made a huge error and was dismissed from the company.
Who alerted the Directors and Company Owner to this huge error?
I am keeping quiet on that question.
But in the great words of John Lyly: All is fair in love and war.