6 Must Know Tips to Navigating Your Career

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9With fall right around the corner executives are focusing fast on what their organizations need to get done before year end. And many rewards, bonuses – pay increases and the like, are tied to individual, collective, and organizational achievement. Keep in mind that a new year is on the horizon thus workforce deployment and succession planning before long will become top of mind among executives. Given those dynamics, how do you navigate a forward moving career and over time secure a spot as one of the organization’s most promising leaders? Executed well, you and the organization will benefit from a more capable, adaptable, business savvy, networked, and motivated you. Navigating a forward moving career includes:

1. Deliver results – Delivering results in your current role is a pre-requisite for increased or different responsibilities. Take it a step further by volunteering for tough assignments, the ones no one else wants, the ones that require risk taking, and then deliver.

2. Communicate your value and career aspirations – When decisions are made on who wins the big promotion or plum project, resorting to “my results speak for themselves” is a big mistake. Do communicate your value and contributions to the organization including the tough assignments you successfully completed. Do convey your career aspirations. When? during performance and development discussions is the obvious answer. When new business needs surface initiate conversation that links the business need with your past successes, capabilities, and career goals then volunteer to take on the assignment.

3. Build relationships – Think of building strong, effective, and collaborative relationships inside your organization as the bare minimum. Most organizations pride themselves on stellar customer relationships. Plus they work through a myriad of suppliers and strategic partnerships. Forge relationships with outside parties before your organization has a need. You will also benefit from getting known in the community.

4. Generate fresh ideas – Get out there, circulate, attend conferences, join a professional association, read, and connect with others in-person and on-line. Expand your horizons by learning about other industries and global trends. You will benefit from thinking more broadly and creatively, have fresh ideas when needed most and avoid the stereotype suffered by long service employees – being too insulated and too conventional.

5. Develop skills for the job you want – Developing skills and capabilities for the job you want before needed will separate you from the pack. How? initiate frank conversations with your boss, executives, human resources, and outside mentor(s). You will learn where to focus your development efforts while simultaneously convey your career aspirations and garner support. Which brings me to…

6. Recruit an executive sponsor – Most bosses will serve as an advocate for direct reports when a business need arises. How much more powerful would that endorsement be if it was echoed by another executive or two? Build a trusting and lasting relationship with another executive whom would gladly promote you when high visibility opportunities occur.

Nothing is more intoxicating to an executive than a capable, results generating, highly motivated, direct communicating leader who is well networked and respected both inside and outside the organization. So get navigating!

A version of this article appeared on Bergeron Associates’ Blog. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Carol Bergeron is the author of ‘People Succession: Lessons From Forward Thinking Executives in Middle-Market Companies’ which speaks to the 7 phases of the People Succession Cycle that talent magnet builders of Bergeron Associates™ use to help executives design and implement succession plans in no time. Pick up a copy to accelerate succession planning at your firm:  http://www.bergeronassociates.com/ ”

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