Whether you are looking to advance from front line to management, management to director or director to executive, the vertical move takes vision and patience. It’s one thing to get a job – it is quite another to hold it, build value within a company, target a position, and execute the plan to get it.
The higher you go, the less opportunity there is. Each jump up requires a fundamental shift in the way that you interact with your colleagues and your company. You will have to deal with the politics of the position as well as the direct responsibilities. If you are looking beyond the walls of your own company, then you must balance the potential conflict of interest with your current duties.
How to Advance to a Higher-Level Role at Work
1. Get Your Hands Dirty
The farther up the chain you move, the less you can afford blinders in your decision-making process. If you’re serving as an IT team lead or advertising head, you consider only the perspective of that department. Your decisions are clean, and you pass them up the chain to let the big bucks work out the details.
As you advance, you must learn to make tough, dirty choices. You will be the one tasked with finding a common purpose for disparate teams. The mission of the company slides into your purview and takes precedence over the mission of any single department. This priority shift can be challenging to navigate if you are thinking from the perspective of your core competency. It may be time to train yourself in the basics of other departments so that you can more adequately balance decisions that affect the entire company.
2. Prioritize the Business
If you are looking for upward mobility, you must shed the notion of being on the front line of everything. The department-level activities that seemed so important are now low-impact, and you must leave them to the specialists. As the decision-maker, your phone will be the one blowing up with requests for help. You must learn how to delegate rather than take on tasks directly, although you will be responsible for the outcome of those projects.
If you are in serious consideration for an upper-level management position, you likely got there by being helpful and going beyond the call of duty. If you want to move up, however, you must understand that your new objective is to find people who can do the job without you. You must show that you know how to prioritize the most critical aspects of singular projects and manage how those projects to fit into the broader scope of the business.
3. Practice Ruthless Objectivity
People get tripped up in office politics during their climb to the top. Moving up the bottom rungs requires a subjective perspective. Your job is based around tactics and hemmed in by the needs of your department. As you climb, you must become less passionate about your own ideas and those of your friends. You will even have to forego the proposition of your core team if another team can offer a stronger proposal.
You’ll make friends on your way to the top. Resist the urge to quarantine yourself with like-minded individuals inside of an echo chamber. Make friends with colleagues who have different perspectives and come from various departments. Develop a knack for making the right decision, not the easy ones. Everyone respects results. Stick to the metrics, and have a reputation for ruthless objectivity. That way, no one can say that you are playing favorites.
As you progress in your career, you must learn that corporate isn’t always “clean.” It demands a singular focus on delegation and objectivity. This is true for every company, though the implementation varies according to company culture.
As a final tip, make sure that you match your methods for sophisticated, objective decision-making with the culture of the company. Your temperament, communication skills, and execution process will come into clear view here. Monitor them closely and modify for the job you seek.
Give yourself the best opportunities for career advancement with one-on-one coaching and a polished, professionally written resume!