We all need to be challenged in our jobs – it’s how we develop. As time passes, we need new and different challenges to be placed in our paths if we’re to remain fresh, focused and productive. And the best way to ensure an abundant supply of challenges is for us to climb the career ladder.
There are, of course, other reasons why people crave promotion: extra income and the feeling of being rewarded for doing well at our jobs.
However, to paraphrase Paul Newman’s character in The Color of Money: “There’s more to doing an excellent job than excelling at the job.” That may seem like an odd notion, but take a moment to think about what employers really want. Yes, they want staff to exceed their targets, but there are other factors that mark out an employee as being suitable for promotion.
Staff harmony is vitally important to employers. A happy team will always be more productive than an unhappy one, so it stands to reason that an employee who contributes to that harmony will be more highly valued than one who, by accident or design, sows discord.
How, then, does one add to the harmony of a team? A positive approach to challenges, be they routine or extraordinary, is a good starting point. A team member who is grumpy or negative will adversely affect the mood of those around them.
Likewise, an employee who has a helpful attitude towards workmates can do much to maintain team spirit and, hence, productivity. On the other hand, a team member with a selfish attitude can foster negative feelings in other members of the team.
Although the workplace isn’t – and shouldn’t be – Party Central, team building exercises and social events are important and effective ways of helping to build and maintain a harmonious team. Participation in such functions plays an important part in that process. No-one expects an employee to be the life and soul of the party, but a happy and enthusiastic approach will be noted by employers.
A willingness to go the extra yard is another attribute cherished by employers. That doesn’t mean taking on so much work that you can’t possibly cope with it – just showing a willingness to help out in times of challenge is sufficient.
Becoming a workaholic isn’t required either. In fact, it’s counterproductive from the perspective of both the employee and the employer. No matter how much an employee may love their job or how determined they are to be the most productive employee, the end result of overwork will invariably be fatigue, irritability and a drop in performance – the polar opposite of what’s best for the employee, the team and the employer.
Willingness to learn and adapt
Whether it’s due to internal factors (such as a restructure) or external factors (such as the introduction of new regulations), change is inevitable. It may not always be desired, but it’s something that employers and employees have to deal with. An employee who embraces change and works towards adapting to it will always be more prized than one who carps about it.
In the same way, an employee who shows a willingness to improve his or her education and/or skill-set will be viewed more favourably than one who is reluctant to do so. Better yet, an employee who pro-actively seeks to better themselves is one who is likely to attract favourable attention from an employer.
Leadership is not all about taking personal charge of a situation in a gung-ho, ‘let’s do the show right here’ manner. In truth, leadership is more about taking people by the hand than dragging them by the scruff of the neck.
A good leader takes the time to listen to everyone they deal with, engages with and encourages the people around them, responds to the different personalities and needs of their team, is honest, transparent, approachable, discreet and impartial, considers the options – and, indeed, invites others to suggest options – before taking a decision, and takes responsibility for their actions and decisions.
You don’t have to be in a position of leadership to display the qualities of a leader. Indeed, most of the aforementioned qualities can just as readily be displayed by a team member as a team leader.
If not here, then somewhere else
There is, of course, no guarantee that being a diligent, friendly, supportive, responsible and enthusiastic employee will lead to advancement, for the simple reason that there can be bottlenecks to progress with some employers or in some sectors.
In that event, it may be necessary to seek new employment or even a new career if your desire for advancement is to be satisfied. You may be able to move into a promoted post, but you may have to move sideways first in order to move forwards later.
Keep showing the right qualities and your time will come.
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