8 ways to get ahead at work right now

Success doesn’t happen by accident. In fact, research shows successful people have a lot more in common than you might think. Try these 8 tips and get yourself back in the game right now.

1 // Do something you love

Research shows that the key thing successful women have in common is that they love their job. Sure, they’ll have ups and downs, great days and not so hot ones, but fundamentally they share a passion for what they do. If this isn’t the case for you, you need to either reignite your passion for your current role through changing attitudes, focus or environment or consider a career change to kick-start your rise to the top. 

2 // Work smarter not harder

We live in a work driven society, in which modern technologies combined with financial pressures and increased competition in the workplace mean we can feel compelled to work 24/7. Paradoxically, working in this unrelenting way, not only affects your mental and physical health, but actually lowers your productivity too. In fact, when people work less hours and take better care of themselves, they are more productive, meetings are more focussed, team work is more efficient and work product is better than before.

3 // Believe in yourself

Lack of confidence can lead us to miss out on projects, promotions and deals, thereby seriously hampering our chances of success. To begin to boost your confidence, fake it. Stand tall, use stronger language (“The results show” rather than “maybe” or “I think”), make eye contact and speak up. Practice makes perfect and you’ll soon find you feel as confident as everyone else believes you are.

4 // Talk yourself up

When it comes to business and work, people who promote themselves get ahead. Unfortunately for women, due to mixture of nature and nurture, most of us shy away from being “boastful”, confrontational or self-promoting.  We think that if we just get our heads down, work harder, longer and better than our colleagues, that alone will get us noticed. But all the evidence shows that’s not the case. If you want to get ahead at work, of course you need to be good at your job but you also need to talk up your achievements so all your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and unrewarded. Practice speaking up, taking credit for your hard work, and even, dare I say it, showing off a little and watch your work star rise.

5 // Learn from others

Getting ahead at work doesn’t necessarily mean being ground breaking. If you can identify a role model whose career you admire, take notes. Why are they successful? How do they behave? Emulate the behaviours they use that are driving them forwards at work and watch your own career follow suit.

6 // Find yourself a champion

It’s confusing, but champions and mentors aren’t the same thing. While a mentor is there to nurture you and your career, a champion is even more powerful. They are there to advocate for you when it comes to promotion and their support signals to other senior people at work that you are someone worth backing. Women tend to have plenty of mentoring relationships, but are much more reticent about finding a sponsor. But in fact, it’s even more crucial for us than for men. The solution? Identify a sponsor, work out what you can offer them in return and get them fighting your corner.

7 // Take control of your career

Another secret of successful people: conscious career planning. Successful executives haven’t just found themselves where they are, they’ve usually identified where they want to get to and consciously worked to get themselves there. Researchers say that spending just 10 minutes a day on career planning, can reap huge rewards in the long term. What to do? Build a career plan: Start by setting goals for the next month, year, decade. Then identify the skills you need to gain and connections you need to make to make these goals a reality.  Plan in place, your ten minutes can be spent putting the plan into action. Once a day, email a connection, research courses or just put a new work behaviour into practice to get yourself one step closer to your dream role.

8 // Manage up as well as down

Building relationships with bosses or strengthening those with the team below you – many of us are more adept at one than the other. But in fact both are crucial to our success at work. According to research, effective downward management, accelerates team performances and significantly increases results. And it’s those results, we’ll be judged on. But research also shows that it’s the drive to make a difference others will value (managing up) that is the driving force behind those results. The key to managing up, is working out what you are being rated on. What results am I creating and how can I make them even better for those above me at work. Effective downward management isn’t inspiring from on high. It relies on helping your team achieve: remove barriers from their path, aid effective team work and acknowledge their accomplishments.  Get management right and your career will benefit.

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