I manage and mentor a number of people and always want them to get the most out of their career.  I’m a realist and know they will not be at their job forever.  Either they will find greener pastures elsewhere or their employer will replace or downsize them due to one reason or another.  In that period that they are in their job, however long it is, I want them to maximize both their and the company’s value.

When I talk with people about their jobs, many times I hear the same complaints:

“There is no career development.”

“I’m bored. I do the same thing over and over.”

“I’m too good to be promoted.”

“My boss doesn’t value my skills.”

Most of these statements reflect a common mistake when approaching your job.  The mistake is thinking that your job is there to make you happy.  You are dead wrong.  Your job exists to benefit the company and in doing so may benefit the employees with employment.  If your position is not seen as a benefit to the company you are in for a long disappointment.

3 Tools to Jumpstart Your Job

So how can we turn what we like to do and are good at into something that is seen as a benefit to the company.  I recommend that people approach their boss with the following three pillars:

  1. Inform them about what you are working on. You may assume your boss knows what you spend your time on but in many instances you would be wrong.  You boss may know the core events but they may not know that you are working on a side project that will benefit the entire team.  You need to be your own cheerleader and in doing so you will get feedback on if you should continue these projects or realign them to something that better matches the direction of your team or company.
  2. Suggestion new ideas for how you can improve the company. Suggest a new service, a new approach, a way to cut costs, a way to remove bottlenecks.  Suggesting new ideas both shows initiative and puts you on the radar of your boss as an active member of the team.  When new opportunities arise or questions need answering your boss is more likely to go to you if they feel you share their desire to act beyond your role as an individual contributor.
  3. Ask how you can help. I have a million projects I am working on or being pulled into and would love for someone to volunteer to help me out.  In doing so I begin to see them doing my job so when it’s time for me to move on it’s easier for me to recommend them for my position.  Most people who are promoted are already doing the roles and responsibilities of their new position, so why not get started on your next promotion by asking for that work now.

Communication

Do not execute any of these items via email.  If TV killed the radio star then email killed the telephone.  Most people think email creates efficiency but the only thing it begets is more email.  If I receive an email over one page I usually won’t read it.  If an email takes more than a short paragraph to reply to I usually won’t reply via email.  I pick up the phone and connect with that person verbally.  Invariably it saves me valuable time and I often time solve other problems in the process.

Your boss is busy and does not want to carry on an email conversation with you to help advance your career.  Call them to get immediate feedback on your ideas.  If they don’t offer feedback then ask for it.

“Do you feel I’m moving in the right direction?”

“Will this project have a broad impact on the organization?”

“What can I do to help you advance?”

Be Decisive

One last bit of advice, be decisive.  It’s OK to tell your boss that you want their job.  In fact it may very well make it happen faster.  Be up front and honest with others while maintaining a professional tone.

So that’s it.  Inform others.  Suggest new ideas.  Ask to help.  In doing so make sure you communicate clearly and decisively.  Welcome to your new old job.  Make the most of it while you’re there!