Feeling demotivated at work is often the result of losing sight of your career goals. On the other hand, knowing that you are working toward an end goal can make dealing with bad managers, long hours, and frustrating projects more manageable. It could even give you the help you need to change direction, ask for different work, or go after a promotion.
So, if you haven’t set yourself any career goals, or if you need to update them, please do so!
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Assuming you have set some career goals, this article offers five tips for reaching them faster. We haven’t included any advice for mastering your craft because we trust that you will be working on that anyway. Instead, we’re going to look at the things that surround your daily tasks and projects. The hidden things that can fast-track your career.
Have you ever noticed that successful people have wide networks? Take a look at some of the high achievers and top performers around you. They often have a lot of friends at work, attend industry events regularly, and build relationships with external suppliers, clients and partners.
Building a network takes time and requires honesty, trust and genuine friendship. No-one wants to feel used or fake. The key is your mindset. Rather than seeking your own reward, think about how you could eventually add value to your connections by connecting them to each other!
- Make an effort to build friendships at work – but be yourself
- Take on cross-department projects
- Join a committee or social group
- Choose one or two industry events to attend regularly
- Update your LinkedIn profile, connect to colleagues and friends and post, share and comment regularly
- Keep in touch with past employers and colleagues
Improve your communication skills
One of the biggest differentiators of a high achiever is their ability to communicate well. The ability to communicate calmly, clearly and effectively in a timely manner is absolutely vital to career progression.
Communication skills to develop include:
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
- Written communication
- Conflict management
- Persuasion and negotiation
A good way to start building these skills is to ask your manager or a trusted colleague to give an honest appraisal of where you’re at now, and what they think you need to improve on. Then add these to your career plan, either by looking for projects that will help you develop these skills, or by taking some courses, or by enlisting the help of a mentor or coach.
Understand what really motivates you (and others)
The most important thing to know about motivation is that there are two types: extrinsic (when external things motivate you) and intrinsic (when internal things motivate you). Intrinsic motivation is what drives high achievers.
There are three things that motivate us on an intrinsic level: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Once you understand this, and how it applies to your situation, you can ensure that you are in (or headed towards) the right environment and role.
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Learn how to calculate cost-to-value
Do ever think about the value you bring to your organization vs your cost? This concept is most clearly seen in the sales department, where the cost-to-value of a sales rep is fairly easy to calculate: if someone costs $10,000 a month but brings in $100,000 worth of business, then they are a valuable employee.
This concept applies to everyone and everything in a business. For example, if you can improve your (or your team’s) efficiency, then you become more valuable. If you can prioritize your workload by focusing on the projects that bring in more revenue, then you become more valuable.
Adopting a ‘prioritize, streamline and optimize’ approach, makes you more valuable, and more promotable. It also shows your manager that you understand their pressures and targets.
Check that your career goals align to your company’s goals
Ideally, your career goals and job KPIs should fit nicely into your company’s bigger picture. Top-down goal setting is a powerful strategy for ensuring that employees are helping a company reach its goals, while it helps them reach their goals.
Ask your manager to talk you through the company’s long and short-term vision and goals. If your own goals are completely out of sync with these, then you might need to think about your future at the organization.
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