While the recession's aftermath is still affecting many workplaces, and it's easy to get discouraged and shut down, Canadian professional consultant Bruce Harpham has been making an effort to focus on the potential opportunities that inevitable emerge from a time of stress. Even if you're bracing for another round of layoffs or trying to boost your career during a stagnant time in your field, check out this tips to help harness your energies in meaningful ways and keep making a difference at work.
1. Work On Goals That Matter
Whether you're in your dream job or biding time until you can land something better, find a way to care about your daily assignments. If the goals your boss hands you aren't exciting enough, find something in your personal life (ideally, something that benefits your career too like a new skill set) that you can only tackle once you've completed your work to-dos. Make your daily work meaningful however you can--employers will notice your enthusiasm.
2. Use a Reliable Personal Organization System
According to Harpham, among other things, "successful professionals know how to run a meeting". Make sure your personal work life is well-organized and effective--develop good habits, use consistent systems, and if organization doesn't come naturally to you, explore resources to help you acquire new skills. Personal organization is a toolkit you can take with you wherever you go.
3. Learn to Earn More
Effective employees are always acquiring new responsibilities, new skills, and new goals. Don't stay comfortable at the plateau you reach when you learn your way around a new job--use resources online or in your community to pursue new knowledge, so when the next big opportunity comes up you're not only qualified, you're the ideal candidate.
4. Navigate Power Like a Prince
Even if your career ambitions aren't as lofty as a Senior VP, you'll only benefit from staying sharp and observing how powerful people move through the workplace. Work to understand the priorities and decision-making methods of the people in power; it'll help you relate to them and prepare for the demands of your future career as well.
5. Maintain Focus on Results Rather Than Time
Many an hourly worker develops a "time worked equals value created" mentality -- lose the attitude, but keep the work ethic, and make sure you've produced worthwhile progress each and every day.
6. Exploit All Of Your Benefits
The essential benefits from working a full-time job, like health and retirement, are easy to appreciate--but make sure you're making the best possible use of the lesser known perks as well. Some companies offer transportation subsidies--lower price public transit passes or parking reimbursement; I once worked at a company that had a partnership with an entertainment organization. I enjoyed half price theater and baseball tickets all summer, but many of my colleagues had no idea these rebates existed.
7. Give Time, Attention, and More To Your Network
Don't be the person who only gets in touch with an old contact when you want something. Remembering birthdays, introducing people who can help each other, even forwarding an article about an old friend's favorite hobby with a "saw this and thought of you!" note can show that you're not just a parasitic acquaintance. Be generous with your time and network, and it will be there for you when you need it.
8. Protect the Asset By Keeping Up Your Health
It may sound odd to think of your physical health as an asset--but wait until you lose it, and you're out of sick time. Regular exercise, attention to nutrition, and most important of all, a good night's sleep on a regular basis are crucial elements to making sure your career lasts, instead of burning out fast.
9. Develop Conflict Management Skills
Especially for an ambitious person, conflict is fairly inevitable. The good news is, conflict resolution techniques can be learned, if they're not innate or acquired earlier in life. Check out local resources or consult an HR representative to find out what workshops may be available for you, if conflict makes your stomach churn. You too can learn to field even the toughest clients and colleagues with poise.
The only thing Harpham left out was the importance of showing up, whenever you're well enough to do so. Value your job, value your time, and value yourself--be the best team player you can be.
9 Ways To Speed Up Your Career Advancement
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