Often, candidates who are hired by any given team have a growth trajectory in mind for their given position or career. While some people are just looking to nab a job they don’t altogether hate, many people have their eyes on the prize by the time they get through the onboarding process. Working with a more extensive team is a lot like having the ability to window shop for your next big move. This is especially true if you enjoy the company you work for, or want to stay within the bounds of your current industry.
Taking the next step in your career can feel scary. But it isn’t impossible. Let’s break down some of the best ways to get recognized and rise in ranks at your company. Becoming a manager can be done, it just takes patience and a strong work ethic. Here’s how.
1. Be open to mentorship
One of the most incredible resources you can find in your life is a mentor. A mentor is a successful person in your field who has time and experience under their belt and a proven track record that could benefit your career. Most importantly, they are willing to build a working relationship with you and guide you through thoughts, questions, and concerns you may have when approaching career pivots, moves and grows. Higher-level coworkers, C-Suite members or upper management and professionals in your workspace, and mentors have expansive networks and years of experience to their name.
To make the career move to management, you may want to be open to taking on mentors as well. While imposter syndrome may often discourage us from taking on friendships and working relationships where we can advise others, there is a chance that your previous experience and work ethic could help shape the career of someone else. If you work on your advising skills with someone currently, that experience can directly apply to a management role within your company or elsewhere. Mentorships should be mutually beneficial, so whether you are the mentor or the mentee, you are learning skills and acquiring continuing education that will certainly help you move up in ranks.
(Not sure what to discuss during a mentoring opportunity? Here are some questions that should spark interesting conversation.)
2. Be a trusted resource
Even in instances when you cannot be a mentor, you can always be a reliable resource for your team. When you dig into your work, really make a point to understand it. Delve into continuing education opportunities, ask colleagues in similar positions about their experiences, and become so knowledgeable about the topic that you are considered integral to the team operations. No, this doesn’t require overextending yourself or inviting overwhelm into your life. It can be as simple as carving out 15-30 minutes each week to learn more about innovations within your industry.
The good news? Many companies are now setting their employees up for success in this very way. Do you get the benefit of free or discounted educational resources and materials where you work? Is there training involved with your job or conventions that can help you hone your craft and expand your network? Some businesses are even doing lunch and learns – in person and via Zoom – to help expand the knowledge base of their employees and allow them to lean into different ways to work.
3. Encourage calculated risks
While risk isn’t always the first thing you think of when assessing how to move up in ranks, it is a deciding factor for how you approach your work. Are you someone who likes the adrenaline rush of a risk now and again? That can actually be a defining characteristic of a management role. Depending on what your current role is within your company, you may have the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of risk and suggest it to your peers and management. This could be a groundbreaking marketing campaign, a new way to approach your sales tactics, figuring out how to cut down on fuel costs company-wide or another interesting dynamic that could benefit the team.
The key to it all is to not be afraid of change. Even Winston Churchill got behind the statement when he said, “To improve is to change.” Change empowers progress. Calculated risks are far different than split-second decisions or ideas totally out of the left field. If everything else feels stagnating, change your approach. Adjust your perspective. Grow. As the ever-intuitive Rumi said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
4. Have rapport with direct reports and management
Even if you do not have an in-depth working relationship with your direct reports or upper management at your company, it is always good to have a kind and uplifting disposition around them. Communicate effectively with them–and via communication methods they prefer–even when involved in a hybrid or remote work setup.
You don’t have to take your manager to lunch every day. But quarterly, you may ask to have a catch-up meeting with them or ensure regular discussions about advancement opportunities while negotiating your contract. This way, they are aware that you are dedicated to the team’s growth and that you’d like to enhance your opportunities in the workplace. Seeming professionally eager when it is appropriate can really help you make a lasting impression with management. So when a more challenging project comes available, maybe ask if there is a way to wiggle some work on it into your schedule! Who knows? Your positive demeanor may make them think of you next time they are combing through applications for management roles.
At the end of the day, stay engaged with your work and professional resources. You do not have to be annoying levels of excited to grasp the attention–or even admiration–of your coworkers. Be your genuine self, do what you can to lift the perspectives and voices of others and be kind and easy to work with. Your talents will shine through when you are honest about your career goals with the right people and add genuine value to your work community and environment.