Ways to Get Ahead Without Working Harder
By Mark Swartz
Must you become a workaholic to get ahead? Putting in extra hours, taking on more assignments…it’s a standard way of rising up the ranks.
Overachievers, however, tend to burn out like meteors. Targeted effort and getting noticed constructively are more beneficial.
The key is being effective without grinding yourself down. There’s some upfront investment of your time required. After that your EQ (Efficiency Quotient) will rise – as will your profile.
Learn How to Manage Time Resourcefully
It’s hard to get ahead by squandering time on wasteful tasks. Priority management is based on allotting resources economically.
Do you start each workday by reviewing your assignments and ranking them in terms of urgency? How about at the end of the day: are you checking off completed tasks, then re-scheduling the rest? If not you may be wasting energy on items that prevent you from completing priorities.
Know Your Boss’s Needs
Part of time management is scheduling work that makes your boss look good. This will get you on management’s radar and establish you as a team player.
To find out your supervisor’s needs, ask for a brief meeting. Preface it by saying you want to help them achieve their priorities. During the discussion, ask what their urgencies are. Suggest actions you could take to assist. Try to choose ones that don’t burden you with excess demands.
Use Your Performance Review As A Compass
A neat shortcut to guide your actions is your most recent Performance Review. It should spell out “key results areas” for the coming year or so. Also areas for improvement may be noted.
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to plan your workday, refer to the Review. That’s what your performance will be measured on. So if you plan to get ahead, focus on closing gaps and doing what’s written in the review.
Start Tooting Your Own Horn (With Poise)
Ambitious people learn that hard work and excellent results don’t always pay off. Unless decision makers in your company know of your contributions, it can be like toiling in a vacuum.
Getting noticed is a delicate balance. Consider the line between bragging discreetly and being outright obnoxious. Then there are the methods of informing higher-ups about your achievements. These range from periodic internal memo’s, to blogging publicly (be careful in the latter not to breach confidentiality). Find out more now about the art to self-promotion
Become A Mimic
Parrots have a knack for seeming smart. It’s their ability to imitate people that stands them apart.
Why not learn from nature: start copying behaviours of successful people around you. Chat up the folks who are getting promoted. Hang with those who win awards or get recognized for their accomplishments. Do like they do. And don’t squawk if you ignore this advice then get knocked off your perch.
Say “NO” Strategically
It takes discipline to say no when asked to do more work. Yet unless you set up boundaries and enforce them, getting swamped can happen fast.
Try to avoid becoming the office sweetheart. Putting your foot down on occasion will set a precedent. Say yes to work that’ll enhance your profile or teach you new skills. Graciously turn down that which doesn’t.
Delegate When You Can
When you’re the boss, you get to assign other people work. Yet as a worker there are times you can delegate as well.
One way is to manage up back to your supervisor. There are certain things he or she can do better/quicker than you. Remind them of that and offer to do something you’re more adept at in return. Another tactic is to trade tasks in a similar way with colleagues when possible. Follow-up is crucial though.
Dress The Part
Finally, if you’re hoping to impress without stress, tweak your look. Appearance influences perceptions of your professionalism.
Here again imitation is a sincere form of flattery. What do the movers and shakers wear to work? Check out their hair styles, glasses frames, shoes. Not that you need a total makeover. Nor should you try to be something you’re not. A bit of sprucing up here and there may be all that’s necessary.
Easy Street Here I Come
There’s no end of advice on how to get ahead in your career. But if you want to do so while maintaining worklife balance, it takes a bit of cunning.
Managing resources astutely, and taking smart shortcuts, will move you forward without becoming a workaholic. Help your star rise manageably over time. And watch for plunging meteors!