Top tips for getting ahead in the workplace
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Women's representation in the most senior roles in businses is far from what it could and should be. In the UK women represent only 5% of FTSE100 CEOs and 23% of the Executive Committee members of those businesses, with similar statistics in other western countries.
At Shape Talent we’re on a mission to support women to accelerate career so they can make a bigger impact.
So we've compiled some top tips to help you progress your career more quickly.
We also cover these in our Women’s Career Accelerator programme, with a module dedicated to each of the areas highlighted below. Click here to find out if this programme could be for you: https://womens-career-accelerator-programme.lpages.co/1/.
Navigating Power & Politics
Become politically savvy by getting to know the key players, where the real power lies (which may not be the same as the official power), and how decisions are made within your organisation.
Understand the key players agenda, preferences and objectives, and personalise your message to appeal to their cause.
Consider the extent of your political awareness and reflect on who can enable and empower you to succeed, so you can play an impactful role.
Build positive alliances. Not in a purely self-serving way, but as a way of achieving organisational objectives. Ensure there are people in the business who have ‘your back’.
Make politics less personal, in order to keep yourself on an even keel and be more resilient.
Develop and utilise your network by making sure you have people who can help you in three key areas: operationally, strategically and in your professional development (read this blog for more).
Map your network: write down everyone in your network in the above 3 categories and identify gaps.
Network online: join relevant groups and identify people of interest on LinkedIn, follow them, engage with their posts, and once you have established connection invite them for a virtual coffee.
Don’t be a time waster: when networking, be respectful of the person’s time. Ask their advice, insights and recommendations. And always ask how you can help them.
Nurture your network: don’t let yourself get forgotten. Once you’ve established a new network relationship, nurture it by keeping in contact at least 2-3 times a year.
Get a sponsor, ideally someone at least two levels above you.
Accept it: recognise that different perspectives and ideas, and some degree of conflict is inevitable and can be healthy in a workplace – it prevents group think and helps stimulate innovation.
Look for win-win outcomes: try to find a position where both parties achieve something valuable
Seek first to understand, then to be understood: These are the wise words of Steven Covey. Many misunderstandings can be avoided by careful listening.
Be professional – maintain your credibility and cool: always be respectful when faced with conflict. Losing your cool or being unprofessional will always come back to haunt you.
Have some time out: if you are struggling to keep your cool, take some time out, away from the confrontation, to calm yourself and revisit the conversation with a cooler and clearer head.
Understand your preferred way of dealing with conflict and contemplate the pros and cons. Remember most people default to their preferred style particularly under pressure, and this might be the time that an alternative approach will better serve you.
Know your worth! Take the time to really understand what drives you – your values, passions, interests and motivations, as well as your skills and expertise.
Be future focused: think about how you want your career to evolve – if you’re aspiring to senior leadership, what do you need to build to help get you there – what skills or key experiences are you missing?
Own your skills: too many women resist talking about their worth and achievements. Practice socially if need be, to get comfortable in talking about your accomplishments.
Be able to clearly articulate your proposition: have a clear 1-2 sentence answer that rolls off your tongue when explaining what you do. It should include what you are the best at (the value you provide), who you serve (your audience) and how you do it uniquely (your USP).
Self-promote by raising the profile of your work and by asking for high visibility assignments and opportunities (especially important for those returning from career off-ramping).
Consciously role-model the attributes that reflect the leader you aspire to being and want to be known for.
Sharon Peake is the founder and MD of Shape Talent Ltd, a gender equality coaching and consulting business established with the sole purpose of accelerating more women into senior leaderships roles in business. We work with organisations to remove the barriers to women’s progression and we work with individual women, helping them to achieve their career potential.
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