Becoming Invaluable at Work | 6 Hacks to Fast-track Your Success

Even in today’s economy, there are plentiful opportunities for professionals with top-notch tech skills and a strong value system. But being employed by a “Great Place to Work” business doesn’t always guarantee career growth, much less a fast ascent to a top position. So how do you get ahead in your career and grow faster than your peers? Is there a formula to fast-track your growth?

No matter how motivated you are, it’s always difficult and confusing to know what specific steps you should be taking in your daily work routine to be committed to your career path. You may have to take a more well-rounded approach to get to the top today—but if you want to arrive quickly, there are a few things you can do.

Make a plan.

To achieve your full potential, you need a plan— a roadmap or blueprint. Goal setting is an important part of this plan. In place of setting lag measure goals, try “lead measure goals”—goals tied to actions you can take or tasks you can complete. Simply put, you want to act on a concrete goal, not something unclear that you have no control over.

Practice daily goal setting, which literally means writing down your goals each day. Create a scoreboard to track these lead measure goals. When you keep score, you know if you are losing progress/winning the game of goals.

Don’t just give what’s expected.

It’s easier to just do what’s asked of you, and what’s expected, but that’s just the bare minimum to gain entry. Do your absolute best to push the envelope, strive for excellence in your role. Refuse to accept “good enough” or mediocrity. Go the extra mile, pack more value into every project, request, and relationship, which brings me to the next point. Develop an “I will do whatever it takes to get the job done” attitude especially during a crisis.

Crisis happens every day— missed targets, service delays, customer pressure. Never let such a crisis go to waste. Learn from the experience, rethink, and do things differently. A strong work ethic, along with a willingness to take responsibility for results and being a self-starter during a crisis, can vault you ahead of those who don’t demonstrate such abilities.

Become a resource.

IT leaders want professionals who are passionate about technology and are not only keeping up the skills they need for their existing jobs but also staying on top at the cutting-edge of technology, too. They want engineers who build reputations as contributors and thought leaders. So, continue building your skill and knowledge. Keep growing your expert status and credibility in your field. Read, study, follow industry leaders on social media, and attend industry conferences. To retain this learning mindset, practice pragmatic optimism – something I call contagious, powerful, and a force multiplier. This is this optimism that will open you up for learning things you have never tried before.

Collaborate and network.

No single company will catapult you into a top-notch position if you can’t demonstrate the ability to communicate well and a willingness to work with others. The ability to win friends and influence is a skill needed increasingly as you move up the corporate ladder. The more people you know and who know you, and like you, the better. These relationships can also open up tremendous possibilities for mentoring.

Here, at IT By Design, we evaluate how potential future leaders interact with others. Those who actively build their network within the organization, who promote collaboration, and seek mentorship from others are the types of leaders we look for.

Think and act a level above.

This means conducting yourself like someone in a position higher than you already are. Achieve this without losing sight or attention to your current responsibilities, but by conveying the confidence and intent to be someone who has potential for promotion and leadership.

Future leaders can be determined by their passion and ambition to create new ideas and work toward implementing them. So, don’t be afraid to share ideas and speak up. Raise your hand for any opportunity and consistently make recommendations for improvements within your team. Present a case for why you should move to a new platform or revisit a certain service process, being able to explain the ‘why’. Passionate self-starters are the ones who get tapped to lead important projects when companies take a giant leap.

Document your achievements.

Record and file all of your achievements, especially those that align with the company’s core values and business goals. Find ways to keep your manager informed of these achievements so you are recognized as someone leading success beyond your responsibilities. This will be especially helpful during annual reviews. Managers like measurable, quantifiable results. If you fail to provide that in your review, you will look like an employee nagging for a big raise or promotion.

Final Thought: Tech professionals who demonstrate leadership characteristics at the start of their venture with a company can become top-of-mind candidates when a management position becomes available. Those who seek out challenges, who continually gain new skills and pitch ideas are the ones who get ahead faster than their peers.

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