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Keep moving: Why do people seem to succeed in the workplace and I feel I have stood still in my career?

Keep moving: Why do people seem to succeed in the workplace and I feel I have stood still in my career?

There is one thing that holds us back more than anything else: our own fears. This is especially true if we have financial responsibilities like a bond, children’s school fees or retirement that isn’t far away.

The truth is we need to do things differently if we are going to see a change in our circumstances. That means stepping out of our comfort zones and challenging the status quo. Here’s a five-step proposal that you can try.

Take ownership:
It is your life and nobody is more vested in its success than you. It is up to you to chart your personal road to success. Start by taking an honest look at yourself.

Identify where you are falling short of others e.g. do you lack critical industry knowledge or skills or do you engage in sideline commentary instead of being part of business solutions? Look at friends and colleagues who are successful. Pinpoint what they repeatedly or naturally do that has enabled their success. Where relevant, try to emulate those behaviours.

Get noticed:
We all know people who understand and play office “politics” to their advantage.  You may always be overlooked if you are inconspicuous, quietly getting the work done and allowing others to take the credit for it.

Make sure that every proposal or report you write has your name as author on it, present at meetings that relate to your areas of work, volunteer for projects that allow you to work with key decision makers in your business, suggest ways to improve the way your business operates. Do not be afraid to stand out and be recognised for your ideas or the work you do.

Get a sponsor:
We are not all natural self-promoters. Some of us need others to give us a gentle nudge or to talk about our successes on our behalf, to challenge us beyond our comfort zones.

Look for influencers in your workplace; people who can help you get the exposure you need. Remember that you need to make these sponsors look good, so if they recommend you for a task or project, then you need to do all you can to excel.

Keep learning:
The more you know and the more you can do well, the more marketable you will be. Focus on the skills that you need to perform your current role better than your peers but also develop those skills that you will need in your next step up the career ladder.

Develop yourself for where you want to be, not only where you are now. If you are being considered for a promotion, your managers will feel more confident in you if you have already displayed the skills required in the new role.

Make a move:
Do not be afraid to keep your eye on external prospects. Keep your CV up to date and meet discreetly with recruiters in your industry. If an opportunity arises, you want to be at the forefront of their minds.

Impress them by preparing well for meetings with them; have a clear idea about industry trends, which are your preferred employers, what you can offer, what you want from your life and your career.

If you do this well, they will “sell” you to potential employers. You should always be looking for opportunities outside of your current role. External moves are usually the best way to fast track your career but be careful not to be seduced by the promise of better things. Research opportunities and employers carefully to make sure that they can deliver on your dreams.