It’s a whole new year, so it’s time to attack your annual list of career aspirations. We know you want to take that career path by the horns and eek out a stairway to the upper tiers of management, but let’s be honest: eagerness is far from enough to get ahead. Before you set upon your plan of attack, brush up on the skill-set of the promoted. You know the ones, right? They’re the people who are simultaneously envied and hated, and the subject of much water cooler chatter. Listen up and avoid these time-wastes that those who ascend the ladder quickly never do. Time to make some moves, don’t you think?
They don’t sit around waiting for magic to happen
“Too many employees just barge into managers’ offices and say, ‘I’ve done a good job, when will I get promoted?’,” says career coach Dana Maniciaglo, author of Cut the Crap. Instead, she suggests designing a bulletproof plan: Collect facts, enumerate wins, quantify results and prepare talking points.
They don’t waste breath and colleagues’ time complaining
Nope, they move projects along by pinpointing what’s possible with the resources at hand, says Steve Langerud, executive coach and founder of Steve Langerud & Associates. “People who put heads down and consecutively produce results are worth their weight in gold to employers,” he says. “Promoting them’s the best way to retain and motivate them to keep up the good work.”
They’re not shy (or hiding)
Those who get promoted have often hitched their wagon to a star, says executive coach Barry Maher. “They find a mentor who’s moving up and help him or her get where they’re going.” They find out who makes decisions and make sure those people know them, and their accomplishments.
They embrace office culture
Sure, doing so may strip them of prized individualism…but only during work hours. “The best way to ascend to power in any organization is to look and act like the people at the top,” says communications professor Michael Ray Smith. “And it doesn’t hurt to toe the party line and not question the culture of the organization. Dressing like the leaders, talking like the leaders, it works. You’ll be accepted and promoted.”
They aren’t naive about how promotions happen
“People on the ‘fast track’ are not naive and haven’t been brainwashed to think that working hard leads to the rest–success, money, admiration, and opportunity,” says Ray Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. Instead, they are savvy, and accept and embrace office politics as unavoidable facts. “They’re not consumed by politics,” he urges, “but know how to manage it with good humor and finesse…and the occasional sharp elbow.”