Several months ago I published an article about the ‘’real’’ factors for career progress in most of the organizations, and I went on to describe that your performance alone most probably will not grant you a higher level position (press here to read the previous article). And now in this article, I will move further to write about another two points that you should consider to move faster.
Moving up the career ladder requires selling yourself. Selling yourself means that you consider yourself metaphorically as a product. Now, let us say that you are the owner of the most exceptional product in the world, and you are willing to sell it. Are you able to sell it if the people and potential buyers do not know about it? Another reasonable question is, are you able to sell a product if it’s not fulfilling what the customer wants? That’s precisely what you need to understand to move up.
To sell yourself, you must be able to understand how the decision makers in your organization think, or in other words ‘’find their frequency’’. When you switch on the radio, you have to find the right frequency first before you can listen to the channel that you want and eventually your favorite radio program. And that is exactly what you need to do.
You need to find their thinking frequency, and then align yourself with their areas of focus, and position yourself in an appealing way which conveys how can you fulfill their wants and solve a problem for them.
But how to do this? As a starting point you can focus on the following:
1- What is their vision, short term & long term goals that they are striving to achieve? Are you focusing on the same areas that they are searching for results within, or are you focusing on things which you ‘’think’’ are important?
Additional tip: Do not focus only on your team or department goals. Look at the full picture.
2- What are the important business terms & ratios that they are using and are important to them? Are you using the same terms & ratios- in other words, their language- when you are speaking to any of them?
The purpose here is to find an area of commonality between your goals and language and theirs. Having common things with someone is the first step to resonate and form a strong connection with this person in general. So after you answer the above two questions, you have to make sure that anything you do is aligned with the above points.
But is this enough? No. This is only the first half of the equation.
The other half is to know the ‘’rules of the game’’. Any company usually has a specific matrix which the decision makers and upper management use for succession planning of higher positions. Do you know this decision matrix? Most probably you do not know it, but you ‘’think’’ you know it.
As an example: Let us say that you are a Manager in ‘’XYZ’’ department, and you are working hard and aiming for your next career move. You built a great reputation, and you got yourself exposed to the upper management and decision makers within your department. Suddenly, a ‘’Senior Manager’’ position in your department became open, and since you are living in the fantasy ‘’Lala land’’, you are almost 99% sure that you will be selected for this position and you started preparing yourself for the day of the announcement.
Finally, the day of the announcement came to discover that they chose another person- who you believe is less qualified than you- and you found yourself waking up on a nightmare in the real world.
You start wondering what happened, and after some research you discover that the decision matrix for this position onwards requires that all vice presidents of the other six departments approve your move or promotion, and since you were isolated and cared only about great work and exposure within your department, you lost the chance against another colleague who was more exposed within, as well as outside your department.
How to know the decision matrix within your organization? Simple, one of the ways is just to go and ask. Stop guessing and asking colleagues at the same level as you, and go directly and hear it from the mouth of the head of your department or one of the upper management that you have a good connection with. They will be glad to tell you because it’s not a military secret. It’s just unusual that people care about knowing the matrix and that’s why nobody usually asks the right questions.
Knowing the decision matrix for the succession planning or higher positions is crucial for your career development within any company. And when you pack this knowledge with the ability to read the decision makers minds and be on the same frequency with them to know how to position yourself…….your career progress will be unstoppable.
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