Climbing the corporate ladder, with the goal of reaching upper management positions can be a frustrating process that takes years, if not decades, to accomplish. There is a vast amount of career advice that helps individuals navigate professional waters in hopes of raising through the ranks of their profession, and there are two key steps, two must-dos, that employees can follow to ensure career advancement. By focusing on building professional relationships and enthusiastically participating in work-related activities, that are not asked of them, employees can all but guarantee their climb to the top.
Climbing The Corporate Ladder:
People like to dream big. For many of us, as we walk the hallways at our chosen university, thoughts of corporate stardom, big paychecks, and a posh lifestyle roam freely in our minds. We believe it should be simple. We tell ourselves that in order to reach the professional plateau positions, we have to put in the time, get in with the big shots, and climb the corporate ladder methodically. This progression, however, rarely plays out in such a simple and organized way.
For example, it is estimated that 45% of recent college graduates (2009-2013), the very people who daydream about leading corporate America, work in ‘non-college jobs.’ A lack of worthwhile career opportunities, after graduation, means that even stepping onto the corporate ladder’s first rung is a process that can take months, if not years, to accomplish.
Unfortunately, after many of these individuals manage to secure their first meaningful job there is more bleak news: Competition is fierce. To measure the sort of competition that we’re talking about, some companies and researchers have conducted surveys with employees to see what they think. For example, in a 2013 Gallop Poll, 23% of survey participants, who were partially or fully employed, said that career advancement is at least somewhat important to them, and 54% of responders indicated that career advancement was very important. When we couple these statistics with the fact that citizens are working later in life, as made evident by the 101% increase in employment rates for individuals aged over 65 from 1977-2007, the top positions in our industries can be seen as unattainable.
This reality of career advancement makes the process of climbing the corporate ladder so time-consuming and draining that many have begun to choose untraditional career paths in hopes of creating their ideal lifestyle. For those who do choose the more traditional routes of career advancement, however, finding ways to minimize the time it takes to obtain the corporate power they crave would become a top priority.
There is a plethora of career advancement advice that tells us we need to take risks and be confidence, innovative, enthusiastic, and accountable. Don’t get me wrong, these are all admirable qualities to portray and develop, but there are two more important behavioral attributes that we must exhibit in order to ensure our career advancement.
If your goal is to climb the corporate ladder, regardless of your current situation, the first thing you would obviously want to do is develop realistic and measurable career goals. Once you have these goals, both short and long-term, you would then want to focus your attention on the two most important drivers of career advancement: Relationships and Going the Extra Mile. Let’s look at each.
It’s All About Relationships:
Part of the problem that comes from career advancement advice is that it is completely you-centered. We are told about the cutthroat reality of the corporate world and given ideas about how we can stand out from countless others trying to raise the ranks. Yet if you were to look at career advancement from a different viewpoint, you’d see that standing out from the crowd often means undermining company values.
One of the most important questions that you can ask yourself about career advancement is, “If I was in the position I wanted to be in, what type of person would make an attractive candidate as my replacement?”
One personal quality that every high-level company employee shares, regardless of the field or industry, is an effective communication skill set. They have the ability to work well with others and deal with people appropriately regardless of their age, race, sex, or employment history. To ensure a swift climb up the corporate ladder, focusing your attention on creating, cultivating, and nourishing relationships with everyone, not only the important people, is vital.
There are two important concepts that we can consciously focus our attention on in order to develop our professional communication skills, build important relationships, and guarantee career advancement. The first is the Golden Rule, or treating others as we would like to be treated.
While following the Golden Rule in our professional lives may sound overtly obvious, the truth of the matter is that many of us don’t put the needed effort into cultivating our relationships with our clients and co-workers. If you regularly remind yourself to follow The Golden Rule at work and treat everyone you come across with dignity, respect, and fairness, you will safeguard yourself from cheating yourself, your clients, and your co-workers.
The second important step that you can take, to ensure career advancement, is to focus your attention on the objectives of clients by working with co-workers as a team. You need to realize that your career advancement will largely be dependent on your ability to meet your client’s needs and work well with your peers. By focusing your attention on developing and continually enhancing your relationships with your clients, and co-workers, you will be looked upon with reverence by upper management.
Go The Extra Mile by Saying Yes:
There are countless opportunities for each and every employee, at nearly every company, to show how important their careers are to them. In regard to these opportunities, it can be tremendously beneficial for employees climbing the corporate ladder to remove the word ‘No’ from their vocabulary and say yes each and every time they get the chance to help the company, help others, or improve themselves.
In most work environments, there are numerous tasks that individuals try to avoid doing for a number of reasons. When you are willing to volunteer yourself to do the things that people hesitate to do because it isn’t part of their job description, or it is too time-consuming and tedious, you should expect to be looked upon extremely favorably.
To take this a step further, don’t just volunteer for the extra work, but consciously seek it out. Ask your boss what additional work you can do, ask your co-workers if they need help with their current project, and constantly focus on bringing a positive ‘will-do’ attitude to work each and every day.
Finally, many large corporations offer their employees a variety of opportunities to improve themselves, help out in the community, and network with other employees. You should actively seek these opportunities out and continuously focus your attention on improving yourself, your professional skill set, and your relationships with others.
Seek out educational and volunteer opportunities, find ways to work on projects with people from other departments, and most importantly say yes to each and every chance you get to help your company, others, and yourself. Don’t argue, complaint, or negotiated, just do what is, and what isn’t, asked of you.
Ensuring Your Career Advancement:
If you want to climb the corporate ladder and advance your career, there are a variety of strategies that you can take, however, the most efficient way to reach your career goals is to focus your attention on cultivating your relationships with everyone, including the new intern, and go the extra mile by saying yes to each and every opportunity that is present to you.
What will result is a natural confidence, based upon actions not words, that will get you noticed and promoted in as timely a fashion as possible. It is important to remember that the career ladder is not always easy to climb, and you need to focus on the process one day at a time. If you are willing to solely focus your attention on doing and being more, your climb up the corporate ladder will be swift.