In Career Advice

5 Steps to Gaining an Edge at Work

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I know you want to get ahead at work. We all do.

But in a cat-eat-mouse world, the challenges to advancing in the workplace are huge. But as much cut-throat competition is out there, you can still do this!

I promise you it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think it is. And I want you to trust me, because I’ve been there.

But by using the strategies outlined below, I was able to achieve a record number of promotions in very little time. And I know you can too.

It only takes shifting your strategy a bit to focus on the things that truly matter.

Below are 5 critical steps you need to focus on to gain an edge at work and move yourself up that ladder.

#1 – Be a Pioneer

At work, there are plenty of people who are so stuck in the way they’ve always done it, that it creates a huge burden on the business. This is because over time, it’s absolutely necessary that businesses evolve to stay relevant.

But businesses are actually just people. So if your people don’t stay relevant and consistently look for new ways to be better – the business and the people will all eventually fail.

Companies LOVE big picture thinkers. So start playing a game with yourself each day. Write down 3 opportunities the business has to grow or change their processes for the better.

Then once a month, take the best 3-5 ideas and share them with leaders around your company. You don’t want anything in return here, you simply want to start letting your leaders know that you have much more value to add to the broader group.

#2 – Learn to Acknowledge and Own Your Mistakes

I work with people all day long – that when an error is made, they will deflect and deflect and deflect that ownership – even if it is CLEAR they are the one who made the mistake.

This is VERY annoying.

Let me be clear, I make mistakes ALL the time. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be human.

Mistakes are ok to make, they are how we learn, grow and ultimately get better at our job. But if you can’t own a mistake (and apologize for making it), you will remain on the same old rat wheel you’re on today.

Good leaders see this deflection as a deflection of accountability – and tis is a key reason why most people don’t get promoted.

So the next time a mistake is made and it’s your fault – just own it. Acknowledge the error, correct it, apologize for it and build a process so it doesn’t happen again.

Simple as that!

#3 – Learn that Timing is Everything

I know you want a promotion right this very second. Some of you have been waiting months, and even years for it to be your turn.

I understand the frustration you have with this, but sometimes a company may not be ready to advance you. This could be because you haven’t proven yourself (in their eyes) or this could be because financially they are not able to move you up.

It’s really important when evaluating timing to ask yourself if this is truly a bad time for the company, or if you think you will ever be able to move ahead at your current employer.

Some employers have workplace environments that are toxic and run but a few key narcissistic, sociopaths that only have their intentions and the intentions of their friends in mind.

This means it’s likely not a timing issue – even if that’s the bag of bologna they try and sell to you.

Thus, if you’re getting to a point where you really do think it’s never going to happen, take the next step. Start brushing up your resume and your Linkedin profile and start the conversation elsewhere.

No one is going to go to bat for you – so you need to go to bat for yourself.

You are a great worker and have tremendous value to add – so go out there and find an employer who appreciates you.

#4 – Make Your Own Luck

Luck isn’t just luck.

Luck is the result of sweat. Sweat is the result of hard work. Plain and simple.

You may not agree with this concept, but I’m here to tell you that you need to change your perspective.

Now I’m not advocating that you bust your ass at work (because I believe in working SMART, not working hard), but if you want to get ahead, then you’re going to need to put in some elbow grease to get the job done.

If you want to gain an edge that puts you first in the line for the next promotion that opens up, start creating your own luck by:

  • Being the first to volunteer to help when someone needs a hand
  • Grab the reins of that sinking project that everyone else is afraid to own – and make it a success
  • Work all weekend to push that project to surprise everyone and hit it’s deadline
  • Or do whatever it takes to let leadership know that YOU are the one who made it happen.

The trick here is to be the superstar without needing the spotlight.

When I was a manager, I would work really hard and exceed everyone’s expectations – then I would give away the credit to my team and others.

My bosses knew exactly who did the work, but it went farther because I was humble in my approach and turned the spotlight on others.

This wasn’t exactly fake given the fact that I actually hate the spotlight (I’m definitely a back-end success kinda girl), but my leaders loves that I looked at project success as a group effort.

My teammates also loved that I sent the credit their way and this actually helped those poor performers to start holding up their own weight.

So it was a win-win all around.

#5 – Develop Skills that are in Demand

When I was moving up the ranks in HR, there are three skills that I had that few other people also had.

I could build a killer PowerPoint presentation (content and design).

I could crunch numbers like a pro in Excel.

I could craft beautifully, articulated employee communications.

I do believe that these 3 skills alone literally helped me land 3 different promotions!

These skills were so uncommon in my workforce and especially in my own department, that it forced other people to rely on me to help them. I of course, always said YES and blew them away with how helpful I was.

This helped me to make friends and also helped me to rack up a few favors I could cash in on later.

So take a few minutes and run a skills inventory on yourself. What do you do really well? What skills are needed that no one else around has? Figure that out – then go become a pro in those areas!

Are you ready to now finally get ahead at work? We hope these tips have been helpful.

Good luck!


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