When you’re standing on the bottom rungs of the corporate ladder, the top might seem out of your reach. But climbing that corporate ladder is not as impossible as it appears if you apply some common sense, hard work, and good advice. Here are 5 tips to help you along your way.
1. Establish Your Credibility
If you want to start your career on the right track, you need to make some calculated sacrifices. Your most important asset by far is your credibility. It will serve you well throughout your career and the best time to establish it is right out of the gate. But work smart, not hard.
Apart from producing excellent work product, get to know how things work in your office by being friendly to staff members like assistants and mail room personnel. Often they are the longest tenured employees in the office and can provide you with information that you couldn’t get otherwise. Take on special projects that might help you land some face-time with an important executive or increase your knowledge about a certain topic that the organization deems important. Meet your deliverables on time or alert your superior well ahead of time if something is going to take you longer than expected. The more you demonstrate your dedication to the work, your understanding of the organization's processes, and your communication skills, the more your superiors will trust you and see you as a future C-suite executive.
2. Accept That Data Matters
People often dislike the metrics used to track their work effectiveness but this quantifiable data is very important. While people are prone to opinions based on subjective factors, data measures clearly and accurately. Instead of fighting against it, learn to use numbers and a written record to your advantage.
Make sure that you have a solid understanding of the metrics that you are being evaluated on. Focus on how you can improve your own numbers to make a good impression that can’t be ignored. Wherever possible and appropriate offer quantifiable results that you have delivered on. If your organization is not numbers-based, make sure to ask for written feedback whenever possible. This data can be used as a bench-mark as you continue to progress in your career and insulate you from unanticipated career stumbling blocks.
It’s also wise to observe the trends around you so that you can spot potential issues or changes that might impact your organization. Watching the numbers might alert you to something others are not seeing and this can easily translate to an opportunity. Sharing your insight and knowledge will put you on the map.
3. Find A Good Mentor
A mentor can give you advice on how you can improve, tell you who you should (and should not) work with, and guide you in the right direction with solid judgement. You should share your ideas with your mentor to get honest feedback on the best way to implement your plans. Make sure your mentor knows what you want to achieve so that they can keep a lookout for opportunities that may be of interest to you.
Your mentor should be someone you respect and admire but also has your best interest at heart. You need to have a good rapport with this person and a good foundation of trust to make it valuable.
4. Play Well With Others
There is often an assumption that you need to be cut-throat to get ahead but this approach can leave people with a bad impression of you. The better approach is to be the kind of person that you would want to be around and treat others the way that you would want to be treated.
Don’t forget that as you climb the corporate ladder the people you leave behind might one day become your client, your boss, or a referral. Climbing the ladder successfully, requires you to build a solid network so try not to burn too many bridges along the way.
5. Understand The Informal Power Structure
The formal power structure of an organization is easy to track but things aren’t always as they seem. Some people who hold fancy titles, might not be the influential pieces that they appear to be. Sometimes the real movers and shakers can be found in unexpected places.
In order to learn where the true power lurks find out who people go to for help. You might be surprised just how useful this information might be as you navigate your way up the corporate ladder. It pays to know how things really get done.
What are your goals for climbing the corporate ladder in 2019?
Sierra E is a Los-Angeles based trial lawyer and entrepreneur. She became partner at her law firm in 2015 and has made numerous appearances as a guest legal correspondent on CNN. In 2018, Sierra launched SuitKits, an online shopping service that allows women to custom design suits and separates to fit their exact measurements, style, color and cut. Through her career, her writings, and her company, Sierra hopes to help women from all backgrounds achieve both personal and professional success for the benefit of themselves and their families. You can find her on Twitter/Facebook/IG @SuitKits