Job Performance and Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Given the state of the economy and more and more people losing their jobs I am compelled to write this post with the goal to help people at a very minimum remove themselves as obvious candidates for termination.  This is something that is very important to me and one topic that I have coached many people on.

Let me begin by saying that you control your own destiny!  I know there are outlying circumstances where this may not be true, but in most cases how you interact with others, perform your duties, play the game, and prove results determines how you move through the corporate ladder.  There are 100’s of ways to insure success and they are different for each unique job and management structure.  I am not going to cover those.  I think in today’s environment job preservation is key and that it is more important to not do the obvious things that put you job at risk.

With that said lets go through the basics:

  • Don’t be obsessed and complain about other people’s performance.

This is simple, no one likes the person that keeps tabs on everybody in the office and complains to others that so and so is not following the rules.  If it does not impact your duties and is not detrimental to the company, then simply ignore the person.  Sure it may not be fair, but if you consume yourself in other people’s business you only make yourself more depressed and bring attention to the things you are not doing.  Another thing to remember is that you don’t know the circumstances of the people that are breaking the rules, maybe they got no raise due to their poor performance, maybe they are in line to be fired but can’t because of HR issues, maybe they have medical reasons for underperforming, maybe they over deliver on something you have no idea about that allows them flexibility, or any host of excuses that should not concern you.

  • Things are not fair, live with it and strive to be on the receiving end.

This one is a bit harder to explain, but if you can grasp the concept you will be happier in your job resulting in better performance.  This can typically be directed to two issues, differences in pay and differences in benefits.  One of the most common complaints I hear from employees is how much they contribute to the job and yet the CEO makes 2x,3x, or 4x their salary.  Some people just want to vent and that is fine, however, some people are consumed with it and actually under perform to what they feel their salary is worth.  This behavior only hurts your growth.  No matter what other employees make or receive, you should always do the best job you can.

I know that may sound hard to do, but your efforts are better guided to figuring out why that person makes more than you do.  How did they get there?  What are their responsibilities?  What can you do to match their responsibilities?  Who do they interact with?  How do they manage?  These are questions you need to ask yourself and find differences with your own job and performance so that you can move to a better tract and find ways to get noticed.  It will mean you may have to work very hard at the same salary you are making, but if you take the right path it should eventually pay off.  If it does not, at least you gained new skills that you can take to another company.

  • You must want responsibility!

In a market like this, subtle differences can mean keeping you job and losing your job.  Wanting responsibility is one way to stand out from the rest.  Many people perform their job day to day without owning responsibility.  They do a good job, but ultimately it is their manager or someone else that takes responsibility for every aspect of a project, in other words they tell everyone what to do and own the good and bad of the project.  Owning responsibility means taking a chance in an environment by claiming ownership of a project (or a piece of a project).  You become the coordinator and self reliant on your abilities to get the project done.  If you perform well, chances are you will get noticed and managers will see you as a valuable asset because they know they can give you a task or project that you will deliver with out them micro managing.

  • Do more than expected!

Again, something that is simple but often overlooked.  This one is easy, be available, offer to help if you hear a problem (even if it is not in your duties), and be willing to learn and take on new tasks.  These are simple characteristics of a star employee.  No one wants to lay off a worker that is extremely helpful to anyone that asks.

  • Don’t be Mr. or Ms. Excuse!

Everyone knows this problem.  You may have a great idea but it is quickly put under the table because someone makes some excuse that a system or department is not ready.  Change is ok, just because something has been done one way for many years does not make it an excuse to turn away innovation or new ideas.  Leaders are looking for people that can take an idea, get around the current constraints, and deliver results.  You may not always succeed, but if you try it may lead to better processes, better products, or better systems.  Before you say no to someone’s idea or method, really determine if you can create a work around or a new system.  If you can, you will be seen as the innovator and hence create more value for yourself.

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