You're the new kid on the block and you want to quickly make your mark transitioning from rookie to rising star. First -- kudos to you. If you define your job as keeping your head down and going through the motions so you can get to Friday at 5, you're doomed for career mediocrity or probable termination. In today's competitive world, you need to go that extra mile to truly differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd. You have to have that fire in your belly and truly want it.
Here are a few things I've learned along the way to help quickly take your career to the next level:
1. If you help your boss succeed, you will succeed.
You want a big raise and a promotion? Do what it takes to get your boss a big raise and a promotion. You accomplish this by understanding what your boss's goals are for the year and then being instrumental in achieving them. If you're the key to making your boss a star, then you will be one too.
2. If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
No manager has the luxury of carrying dead wood. You need to step up and add value. Volunteer for the critical project that no one wants to take on. Bring forward new ideas on how to delight customers and boost retention. Come up with ways to help the business do its work smarter. Be the "go to" person when an important assignment needs to get done right.
3. Anticipate what needs to get done and just do it.
If you wait around for someone to tell you what to do you will soon become expendable. Be proactive and take initiative. Understand the strategic direction for your business and help your team get there faster by determining what needs to get done and just doing it. Always try to anticipate and stay one step ahead. As the Great One hockey legend Wayne Gretzky put it: "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."
4. Always be learning.
Just because you graduated doesn't mean you stop learning. What are the key trends driving your industry? What new technologies are emerging that could be a game changer? What new ideas or frameworks can you apply to help transform your business? Take advantage of all the professional development stuff your company offers. Sign up for a workshop to build new skills. Be a voracious reader. Be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut, listen and learn from others that know more than you. Commit to being a lifelong student. Knowledge is power.
5. Build trust.
Do you keep your word? When you commit to taking on a project do you deliver on time and on budget? Do you have a reputation for unquestionable integrity? Can you be counted on to actually do what you say you are going to do? The answer to all of these must be an unequivocal YES.
6. No surprises.
No boss worth their salt likes surprises. Although it might be unpleasant, it is dramatically better to bring bad news to your boss's attention immediately so the damage can be managed and controlled. The longer you wait, the higher the likelihood that the problem will be bigger and your credibility will be questioned (see 5 above). If you smell something rotten, let your boss know before everyone dies of food poisoning.
7. Be positive.
Yes, it's work, but it's not a prison sentence. Be a high-energy positive person that people enjoy working with and want to be around. Smile. Be professional, but have some fun. Love what you do. Research shows that 75 percent of job success is driven by your level of optimism. Create a mental model that says, "I'm fortunate to have this opportunity and I'm going to make the most of it."
Life is not a dress rehearsal. Do great things and enjoy the ride.