How to Be the Kind of Employee Who Gets Promoted
by Tag Goulet
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have “all the luck” on the job? They’re the people who bosses seem to like best. They get the choicest work assignments and may even get promoted ahead of employees who’ve worked there longer.
So what do these “golden boys and girls” have that their co-workers don’t? Chances are they have excellent interpersonal skills, at least when it comes to communicating with higher-ups. However, as I wrote a few years ago, some people who get ahead on the job have everyone fooled.
In their book Snakes in Suits, Paul Babiak, Ph.D. and Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., explain that a surprising number of workplaces employ psychopaths. While psychopaths make up 1% of the general population, Babiak and Hare found that 3.5% of the executives they worked with “fit the profile of the psychopath.”
Psychopathic employees are pathological liars who get away with doing little or no work. They charm senior management with their “leadership potential,” con co-workers into covering for them, and successfully blame others for their mistakes. Fortunately, they are the exception. In most organizations, people rarely succeed for long if they antagonize co-workers or employees in support positions.
So, it’s likely that the stars of your workplace not only do good work, they also have a knack for getting along with just about everyone. To help you do the same, and be seen as an effective leader, here are some tips from Dream Careers, a book I wrote with Catherine Goulet and Jennifer James:
- Give credit to others when things go right and take responsibility when things go wrong. As football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said: “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it.”
- Confront challenges and problems head-on; don’t let misunderstandings or bad feelings linger. A face-to-face discussion is better than an email, which opens the door to misinterpretation of your message.
- Be aware of the power of your words and communicate respectfully with everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
- Also be aware of email etiquette. For example, you should not forward emails that have questionable content. Even if you didn’t write the words, you are responsible for the message.
- Accept that in some positions you may have to make decisions that are unpopular. Take responsibility for your actions, and don’t try to blame “upper management” or outside forces.
- Don’t disrespect someone because their position is “below” yours. Anyone may be a helpful ally at some point, and people can move up and down the ladder, too.
- Take every opportunity to develop your listening skills. Being an effective listener is not only a good way to develop rapport with people, it’s also a good way to learn information that could help you get ahead on the job.
Susan Chesney, Branch Manager of Robert Half in Calgary offered the following tips to help you build your visibility at work:
Provide status reports. Even if they aren’t requested, let your manager know that you’d like to send weekly project updates. Be specific when describing exactly what you did and what resulted from your efforts.
Thank the team. Call attention to group successes by sending an e-mail recognizing those who helped and copying relevant managers.
Share the news. Receive a gushing e-mail from a client? Be sure to forward it to your manager.
Start a collection. Keep a folder of professional highlights, such as e-mails praising your work and complimentary notes from managers. You can use this information during performance reviews to showcase your achievements.
Speak up at meetings. During staff meetings, be willing to share ideas and propose solutions to issues facing your department. This will help reduce the possibility of co-workers taking credit for your ideas. You’ll also demonstrate that you are truly engaged in what’s going on around you.
Take the assignments nobody wants. Demonstrate a strong work ethic by completing these tasks, no matter how tedious or tiring, on time and error-free.
Offer to help. If a teammate is struggling to meet a deadline, offer to help. Employees who show initiative are always in demand. Maybe even join a committee at work to help with projects outside of your normal responsibilities.
Network on the job. Managers notice and value team members who work well with others. Get to know a cross-section of people in your organization outside of your day-to-day contacts by introducing yourself, asking about their responsibilities and inquiring about upcoming projects where you might be able to help.
I hope you enjoy your climb up the corporate ladder!
Tag Goulet is Director of IBMCC. Two short courses from International Business and Management Career College that may help you get promoted are the Business Etiquette Certificate Course Online and Business Image Management Certificate Course Online.