Your first day at a new business is an exciting time! There’s so much to learn, so much to do, and so much to look forward to. But too many employees soon fall into a dull pattern of lackluster effort towards their work. These employees stay stuck in lower level positions with little to no hope of moving up in the business. Is this the fault of the business? Usually not. It is usually a result of giving up, of losing hope, of becoming comfortable with the limited responsibility that you are given. And this may work for some people; we need employees in the lower level positions. But if your goal is to move up, to get promoted, to climb the corporate ladder, then you need to possess the mindset to get ahead.
What is the mindset of one who gets ahead? Part of the mindset is taking pride in your work. No matter what kind of work you are doing or how much your work impacts the business, you should take pride in your work knowing that you are a part of propelling the business to new heights. If you can take pride in even the smallest tasks, how much more that will help you when you take pride in the biggest tasks. When you take pride in your work at the top of a business, you can impact the business in ways that you never imagined. But that pride in your work starts when your at the bottom, when you think your work has little to no impact on the business. That is where character is formed, character that shines when your at the top.
A trait that keeps many at the bottom is the unwillingness to take advantage of new opportunities. New opportunities can be anything from new projects to new responsibilities, from opportunities to learn to even opportunities for promotion. When people become comfortable with their current position, they see new opportunities as threats to their comfortable work life. So why would you take advantage of an opportunity that may require a little more commitment from you, an opportunity that may require a little more intellectual work? These are the questions employees ask themselves, and those that stay at the bottom simply see no reason to burden themselves with anything outside of their comfort zone. But those who rise to the top see these opportunities as ways to add value to the business and make themselves known as ones who aren’t afraid of a new challenge.
One of the biggest traits that upper level managers and executives look at when looking to promote is reliability. Has the employee consistently performed their work with exceptional quality? Can they rely on the employee to be able to accomplish the larger tasks that will be in store for them in the higher position? While it may be obvious that an organization is looking for a person in a higher position to be reliable, reliability goes beyond simply accomplishing the task at hand. It includes being reliable to perform a task with quality, to always be available if ever needed from the organization, and to be able to be a leader when called upon. Simply put, being reliable means you can be counted on by the organization to accomplish whatever they ask of you. You can demonstrate your reliability in a lower position simply by accomplishing the tasks that are handed to you, and accomplishing them with as high of quality as possible. Help others that need help show your organization that you can be counted on to be a leader. Those higher up will notice your reliability and will take note of it for the future.
Finally, a wonderful trait that managers love to see in an employee with potential is leadership. Now there are many positions that do not offer many opportunities for leadership, especially among lower level positions. The most leadership you may get in a starting position is leading the intern through his 8 week program. While a lack of access to leadership can be frustrating, do not let that frustration lead to a lack of action. Whatever leadership that is available to you, take advantage of that. Lead that intern to the best of your ability, show leadership in that project you’re in, help your fellow new workers with what they’re struggling with. You’ll soon find that your responsibility in leadership will begin to grow, and you’ll take on even more leadership. Managers will notice these traits, and continue to trust you with more leadership. And many times, with more leadership comes a higher role in the company.
I have covered a lot of points that will help you work your way to the top, but the most important point is to simply work hard. Put in the effort, don’t hold back, don’t become lazy, and you’ll go beyond what you thought you could in the organization.