CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a key technique that people learn in first aid courses. Out in the field, you have limited time to take action. There is also very limited resources and equipment available. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning.” This emergency skill set matters because 80% of heart attacks happen at home.
As you work on your career advancement project, there are a lot of questions to consider. Moving up the ladder to management is often the logical next step. Making that move without the proper foundation increases your risk of failure (e.g. being fired, being demoted or be cut out from important decisions). Make enough mistakes as a new manager and you will need some career CPR to get back on track.
Whether you have been asked to apply for a management role or simply came across an interesting job posting, pause and reflect on it. Going through thes steps will help you to prepare an effective application, prepare for the interview and get ready for your first ninety days.
Competence: Deliver The Goods And Expand Your Horizons
Do you know the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service? It comes in the following phrase which is carved into the stone of the post office at New York City Post Office on 8th Avenue:
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”
As a long time student of history, I also have to add that the quote was first written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus in his book The Histories.
This unofficial motto defines success for couriers clearly. That leads into the first few points below.
1. Define Success In Your Current Role
Going through the usual routine is easy, especially if you have been in a role for a long time. However, you may have lost track of the definition of success in your role. Take the time to write a short definition of success and validate it with your manager.
2. Deliver The Goods For A Year
Building up a track record of success and consistent delivery shows that you are competent and capable. Living out this principle shows that you can go define success and then carry it out.
Why deliver the goods for a year? Changing jobs in less than a year may be misunderstood by other reading your resume in the future. In addition, many jobs have cycles of activity (e.g. certain activities are only done monthly, quarterly or annually) and you want the chance to successfully complete all of those activities.
An Exception: If you have accepted a role far below your capacity as a short term measure, you may be able to demonstrate exceptional results in less time.
3. Write The Brag Sheet To Record Your Results
Earlier this month, I wrote How To Write A Brag Sheet To Get Promoted. To reiterate, this document summarizes your achievements and results. Whenever possible, look for ways to add numbers to your brag sheet (dollars saved, revenue generated etc). You can also add positive emails and notes from stakeholders, customers and others.
4. Expand Your Job To Demonstrate Your Initiative
From time to time, seeking a promotion or a new job is not the right move. In those cases, use the Expand Your Job strategy. By adding new responsibilities to your job, you show that you are willing and able to make a greater contribution to the organization.
Not sure where to get started in taking on new responsibilities? Ask around your department to see if anyone is planning to go on vacation. I have also learned new skills, systems and skills in order to provide coverage for a coworker who has gone on vacation. It is a great win-win strategy (your coworker gets peace of mind on vacation and you get to learn new skills)
People: How Good Are You With People?
In a famous scene on the 1999 movie “Office Space,” (the link is a Youtube clip with the scene) a character is asked to explain how he contributes to the company. He soon becomes angry and starts shouting that he has “people skills.” Needless to say, his outburst sends mixed messages.
To grow in your career, you need to do better with people. Use these steps to get started.
5. Learn A Systematic Approach
Without a systematic approach to dealing with people, you are likely to fall into a classic trap. What’s the trap? Treating everyone like yourself in terms of communication and style. For example, you may avoid the phone and seek to complete all of your communication by email. That approach may frustrate people who prefer to connect by phone.
I suggest using the DISC framework to improve your understanding of people. I suggest purchasing the DISC Profile from Manager Tools. You can then deepen your understanding with Manager Tools’s outstanding podcasts that explain DISC.
Note: Of course, every person is unique in their own way. Using tools like DISC simply speeds up the process of getting to know people and helps you manage your blindspots.
6. Learn What Motivates People
Understanding motivation is vital for those moving to a management role. Why? While your formal authority means you have the power to issue orders, there are limits to that authority. If you only use formal power, you will rarely inspire people to add new ideas.
Use these resources to get started:
7. Do Kind Things
Getting along with people includes doing thoughtful gestures. Use the cookie hack to connect with someone at your office. Here are a few other ways to do kind things for people in the office:
- Organize A Farewell Party. Earlier in August, I organized a farewell party for someone who left the organization. I booked the restaurant, circulated a card and bought a gift. I like to mark occasions and the effort was appreciated.
- Listen For Frustration. In the close quarters of cubicle land, it is difficult to avoid overhearing other people. If you hear people curse under the breath, stand up and ask them about it. Depending on the situation, you may be able to offer a solution or simply acknowledge their suffering.
Readiness To Start Over: Cultivate Beginner’s Mind
Moving to a management role means you have plenty to learn. There is a whole new set of skills to be learned and mastered. This change also requires an adjustment to your outlook. Moving to a management role is like your first year of university – you have a lot to learn and some of those high school habits will need to go.
8. Prepare For Discomfort
Learning how to perform a new job means discomfort. Specifically, you have to admit how much you do not know. If you have moved to a new department or new company, be ready to be full of questions. Most people are glad to help you if you make an effort.
Tip: Ask plenty of questions and note down important answers in a notebook as you work through your first weeks and months on the job.
9. Redefine Success As A Manager
As an individual contributor, your success or failure is largely within your control. That starts to change when you move to a management role. For example, managers are measured on their ability to develop staff, delegate work effectively and contribute ideas at a strategic level.
As you get started in your first management role, take the time to learn how success will be measured. The single best person to ask about this is your boss: the VP, the director or whoever you report to.
10. Start 1-on-1 Meetings
Building your relationship with your staff takes time and effort. You can make the process easier by regularly having 1-on-1 meetings with each person. For detailed guidance on starting and running 1-on-1 meetings as a manger, I refer you to Manager Tools (e.g. One-on-Ones Part 1).
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