Entering an organisation is only a starting point for career development and success. After you get your appointment letter, celebrate briefly and quickly settle down to work.
Beyond the appointment, your principal responsibility should be to secure your place in the organisation and set your career machinery in motion.
After you enter, your key objective is to come across as someone who adds value to the business. this article sets out some behaviour that every employer will reward.
First impressions are important. From your very first day at work you are under close scrutiny. Apart from your immediate supervisor, there may be a key decision maker or overall boss who might also be interested in what the new candidate has to offer.
He or she may want to take a quick ‘snapshot’ to form their impressions and make their own conclusions. Oftentimes, they quietly observe you to see whether they made the right choice or got it wrong at the interview.
Once they have made up their minds, they often ‘move on’ and you may not get another chance to show them a better picture of what you are capable of. the first responsibility of the new employee is, therefore, to reinforce whatever good impressions you may have made at the interview or selection stage. this gives you a head-start, especially in very competitive environments where there are others doing the same things as you and all competing for promotion.
it is also important because there is often some flexibility around your new appointment, roles, responsibilities and opportunities.
A good impression could see you being given some additional responsibilities and higher benefits in a relatively short time. in one instance, a young lady we had just employed performed so well upon assumption of duty that we withdrew her original appointment and replaced it with another offering her a new designation and higher benefits.
Contrast this with another instance i witnessed in my very first place of employment after university.
A brilliant guy who had made a good impression on everyone during the orientation got summarily dismissed on the second day of work for disregarding a simple instruction not to take any food outside the staff restaurant.
He got fired for carrying a lobe of cheese in his pocket. the issue may sound trivial from a certain perspective but this was an international hotel franchise and the new establishment was seeking to set a high standard in an industry that had built an unenviable reputation for staff corruption.
Wrong choices and poor judgement in your first week at work could have dire consequences for your career. You are, therefore, responsible for starting well if you want to enjoy your stay in an organisation.
Wherever you find yourself working; whether it is in a corporate establishment, a business or a not-for-profit, the following attributes would make you attractive to your employer and increase the chances of your rapid rise and success.
1. A sense of integrity
A number of surveys have sought to find out from CEOs of different companies the attribute they value most among their employees.
interestingly, the one attribute that keeps coming up over and over is integrity. A person’s integrity refers to their character, honesty and reliability. no matter how technically competent you are, if you cannot be trusted you will not make progress in any organisation you are employed in. An expert chef who lacks integrity would use expired or rotten produce, cut corners and eventually destroy the hard-earned reputation of a restaurant. Similarly, a dishonest accountant will spend all his time falsifying figures and misrepresenting issues. no one wants to employ a person who cannot be trusted. the truth is employment involves a progressive process rather than a one-off assignment. the person is expected to grow in both stature and responsibility. it will be, therefore, very difficult to entrust more responsibility and power to someone who cannot be trusted with little. the higher the sense of responsibility and trust you exhibit, the more confidence your superiors will have in you.
What are the clearest signs that you are a person of integrity? Simple! Do you keep your word? Are you able to do what you say you will do when you say you will do it? Do you remove all obstacles and sacrifice just to ensure that you keep your promise to your boss or clients? Do you leave them in no doubt when you assure them that that something will be done?
Work on yourself and your dependability and the world will open up to you in a remarkable way.
2. Continuous learning & improvement
Successful career development would require the candidate to continuously generate new ideas, grasp new ways of doing things and emerging concepts in the marketplace. this process can be facilitated if you create an extensive knowledge database. You would, therefore, put yourself at an advantage if you consistently make time to read and study about your area of expertise as well as general personal development techniques and principles. the World Development report of 1999 indicated that “Knowledge has become perhaps the most important factor determining the standard of living – more than land, than tools, than labour.”
it is, therefore, no excuse to expect to significantly improve in your career and standard of living if you are not knowledgeable or informed. the younger you are the more voracious a reader you must be. Our weekly radio show ran a series of interviews of young managing directors and heads of organisations to unravel the secrets of climbing the corporate ladder at a young age and, without fail, continuous learning and reading were highlighted as key factors.
in the knowledge economy, the world has moved from brawn-power to brain-power and from ‘man-power’ to ‘mind-power.’ As you seek to operate at a higher level in your organisation, you will come to appreciate that mental strength and dexterity are more rewarding than mere physical strength.
Determine to progressively convert yourself into a knowledge worker. Learning and development is not an end in itself but a means to personal and organisational improvement. Continuous reading and studying will stimulate your mind and energise you in various ways but that is not all that there is to it.
Don’t get caught in the trap of learning for the sake of it. Focus on the functionality of knowledge. As you read, listen to a seminar, watch a video or study anything, think of how it can help you become a better person and deliver better results. Keep a notebook close by for capturing new concepts and ideas that may course through your mind.
3. Speed & excellence of execution
Your place at the top of the organisation is guaranteed if you are noted to be someone who is a doer rather than a mere hearer. In the book “How to become CeO: The rules for rising to the top of any organisation,” author Jeffrey J. Fox suggests that the idea does not have to be perfect but the execution does. He, therefore, recommends that “If you wait for the perfect time, for the perfect new product, for conditions to be just right, you will never get started.” speed is an important prerequisite for excellent execution and promotion. Can you imagine yourself as a manager rewarding a new executive who is always late to work, never delivers assignments on time and loves giving detailed excuses for their non-performance? Whether you seek to introduce an innovation or have been assigned responsibility for a new company project, decide to be prompt and early with your delivery. submitting an assignment ahead of the appointed time increases your respect and makes your boss look good to his or her superiors. That is a key to being appreciated and promoted.
Your posture in the workplace must communicate a readiness to speedily deliver on assignments. Many CeOs form far-reaching conclusions about their employees based on their general posture and attitude. Here are some tips for the candidate seeking to inculcate and communicate the speed and urgency required for successful execution and career progress: a. Learn important lessons only once. don’t let your boss keep repeating the same thing over and over.
b. Have a sense of timing and urgency in everything.
c. Always walk briskly and upright, especially at the beginning of the day. It is a signal of your readiness.
d. Avoid contradictions or dichotomy. Your words must match your actions.
e. Avoid unnecessary shyness. step up to the plate when asked to do something and do your very best to excel.
f. shun complacency and indifference. It makes your superiors less forgiving when you make mistakes.
g. Always write things down. don’t trust your memory
h. Avoid forgetting instructions. use technology (alarms, phone reminders etc.) to help you if necessary.
i. Avoid slouching in your seat or wrong body language.
j. Give periodic feedback ahead of final delivery. It helps your bosses to relax and assures them of progress. — GB
Albert & Comfort Ocran are Management Consultants, Executive Coaches and Authors of several personal development books including the bestseller, “Career Starter Pack” and the latest “Speak Like A Pro.” E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.