Ouch! Reality bites. Today there are some powerful Unwritten Rules in every organization that stand in the way of your success. These are the unwritten but important behaviors that must be addressed for career advancement. My goal in this post is to help not only Millennials but all generations understand advancement strategies and recognize opportunities to make key decisions about their career options.
Here are my suggestions for conquering the Unwritten Rules:
- Be Observant: Begin a new job or new department or team by closing your mouth and opening your eyes and ears. Observe—how things get done. Your workplace success requires a deep understanding of how the organization or new team functions and how decisions are made. Be fully aware of the politics and notice where the political landmines exist. Political know-how (the unwritten rule) is important—and those who fail to develop such skills are often the ones who get left behind.
“You can observe a lot by watching.” —Yogi Berra
- Discover: Now that you understand your organization find out where you fit into the big picture. Every organization has a culture that sets the tone for the types of people who are hired. You need to know why you were hired, where you fit into the organization, and how your superior sees your career path in the organization.
- Share your Goals: Speak up and effectively communicate your career goals, your ideas, desired assignments, and when the time is right, ask to be considered for promotion.
- Build your Relationships and Grow your Circle of Influencers: Start your list of 25 people you admire, people you can learn from, leaders, gatekeepers, and people in your organization who have enthusiasm and ideas. Then join your organizations, formal and informal networking groups, and, as Keith Ferazzi once said, “Never eat alone.” Make it a point of having lunch with members of your team and those in your circle of influence.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
- Be a Giver: Figure out how to cultivate your list of 25 and grow the relationship BEFORE you ask for advice or a favor. Share your talents (perhaps in technology) and be open to teaching others.
- Increase your visibility: Volunteer to give a presentation! Did that scare you? Do your homework—practice, practice, practice, and make it a great one. Become known and get involved.
- Take pride in how you show up. Although we are seeing a more flexible work trend—dress still matters! How you dress for work is even more complicated today than years past. The casual dress trend combined with today’s increased focus on “snug-fitting” clothes makes it clear that deciding how to dress for work takes some thought and preparation. Every business has a culture and every culture has a costume. Make sure your day-to-day outfits fit your company’s look and feel … and are “company appropriate. Some professional cultures still require suits while others, such as the tech cultures, are more relaxed and you may even get by with a grey hoodie … if you are Mark Zuckerberg. Be mindful of the image you want to project at work with clients and peers, and choose outfits based on cues from those you admire around you.
“Remember, whatever you do at work, no matter how small it is, has your signature on it! Make it clear, bold, & easy to read!” —Karen McCullough
What unwritten rule have you discovered? Can you share examples where you have turned your discovery into opportunity? Please share your thoughts below