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Silence Isnít Golden

Q: Iím about to start a new position that took me a long time to find. I want to get off to a great start and develop a long-term career with my next employer. Based upon past experience, it seems doing a good job isnít enough. What am I missing?

A: Most people assume hard work and dedication equal success. However, unless you are totally on your own, communication is equally important. Here are some tips to help you stand out in your new position:

  • When you begin a job or project, identify the key people who will have an impact on your mission. Make it a point to get to know them. Establish a relationship by discussing each other's philosophies, perceptions of company issues, role interactions, collaborative and potentially conflicting goals and expectations of each other.

  • When you have a new manager, schedule an appointment to find out her priorities in terms of what you should learn and do first, second and so on. Go over the company's performance appraisal form to discuss how she interprets each section. Solicit specific examples of her perception of superior work, great attitude and other listed criteria. Ask about promotions and raises and the process for achieving them.  Then develop goals and action plans together to benchmark your ongoing activities. 

  • To enhance your communication, put together a schedule for regular meetings with your management, peers and employees to review progress, solicit feedback, learn skills and information, set new goals and solidify your relationship.  People need to know what's going on and what you're doing and thinking.  They value the opportunity to offer input on projects that affect them and will back you, if given a chance to "own" your strategy.  While wildcatting a project may seem to be the fastest, easiest road from point A to B, it can be a lonely, hostile journey.  On the other hand, keeping everyone informed may take more time, but it promises a friendlier trip.

  • Always know where you stand with the people who have the power to give you raises, promotions and feedback for your permanent record.  Because most managers hate reviews, even positive ones, they rarely schedule periodic informal conversations about your performance, and they may put off your formal review until the last possible moment. This avoidance behavior leaves you wondering how you are doing and puts you in info limbo. To make sure that no performance appraisal, either good or bad, is ever a surprise, take the initiative to plan regular discussions about your career with your manager. 

  • Set aside at least one hour per quarter to ask for feedback on your individual performance, point out your strengths and accomplishments, evaluate your progress and develop goals together. Make sure your manager knows what you expect in return for exceptional work. Don't assume he can read your mind and will intuitively move your career along the path you've chosen.   

  • These days companies tell employees their careers are their own responsibility. While this has always been true, organizations have finally owned up to it. With rampant reengineering, rightsizing, and reorganization continuing ad infinitum, professionals who know where they want to go and how to get there will certainly be most likely to fulfill their expectations with a little help from management.

  • Don't confine your communication only to those with whom you work day-to-day. Making contacts throughout your organization can be most beneficial in:

1.      Establishing your worth to the company at large

2.      Giving you a broader perspective on your job and how it impacts the big picture

3.      Advising you of opportunities for interesting new projects or positions

4.      Offering information on the state of the organization

5.      Helping you to deal more effectively with political situations.

Professional career coaches will tell you, "The best time to network is when you're employed."  Networking inside and outside your organization are equally important.

  • Getting involved in a professional or community organization offers you the chance to develop contacts and skills that concentrating solely on your job and company cannot. Usually volunteer groups encourage their members to try a greater variety of positions and move up the ladder faster than a paid environment will. You can expose yourself to a rich array of experiences that look good on your resume and will be useful in your current job, if you seek camaraderie and experiences beyond your immediate family and colleagues.

As you hone your communication skills in a variety of venues, you'll increase your recognition as a key player within your company, industry and community.  Eventually, people will think of you as an "executive with portfolio," the go-to person when an important job needs to be done. 

 Career Dimensions ● 214-208-1706 ●

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