Working within a corporate environment has a number of benefits that being employed by a small to midsized firm can’t offer. For example, if you are working as an employee at a mom-and-pop shop then there is probably little room for growth. Often key management roles are doled out to family and friends. Although you love the people you work with and the job you do, you will probably never reach a leadership position. For this reason, working in a corporate environment is ideal for anyone with dreams of climbing the ranks. However, even then it will take understanding key strategies for career advancement and climbing the corporate ladder. Let’s look at some of what this entails now.
Constructive Goal Setting: One Rung at a Time
One of the very most important things you can do when looking to rise in the ranks in a corporate environment is to start with a plan. Define your goals well and pursue them one rung at a time. Often you will be hired in an entry-level position that doesn’t require formal education beyond, perhaps, a bachelor’s degree pertinent to the field in which you will be employed.
However, perhaps the first rung of that corporate ladder, the first step in your goal, should be to pursue a graduate degree in business administration. If you are looking to achieve a position in management, that degree will add to the on-the-job experience you are gaining. In fact, one of the requirements for an online MBA at Aston University, for example, is at least two years of experience in some form of leadership within your field.
With that said, advancing in a professional degree is just the first step on climbing the corporate ladder but one that will also give you the tools you’ll need to succeed at each of the other goals you set!
Home in on Being a Team Player
Yes, competition is often a great motivator for getting ahead in the world of business but even more important is the ability to work within a team. Innovation is frequently best achieved as a group effort. If you are unable to work well with others, this is something that will need to be given serious attention.
Some people are introverts by nature, thus finding it difficult to open up with ideas and suggestions in a group environment. Others are an extreme opposite as extroverts and can tend to take over literally every conversation they are involved in. Learning to be an active listener is a key element in collaboration, but so too is being able to voice an idea. You never know what seed you will plant even with the tiniest of recommendations!
Don’t be that child who gets a report card stating that, “Johnny doesn’t play well with others.”
That Extra Effort Never Hurts – Within Reason
Perhaps there is no politically polite way to say this, but for lack of better words, you don’t want to be seen as that employee who is constantly kissing up to the boss. Not only will your peers resent you, but bosses aren’t overly fond of employees who always want to be ‘the one’ to do something, never giving others a chance to succeed.
The best way to give an extra effort is to do the best job you can do on any task you are given. Many entrepreneurs who built corporate empires have said that instead of giving 100% effort they shot for 105% effort in any task they were assigned. Arriving at work ten or fifteen minutes before your scheduled shift or completing tasks a little before the deadline shows that you are incentivised to grow within the company.
Extra effort is best approached as a personal achievement and not as a way to outshine your peers.
Keep the Dream Alive and Just within Reach
Another thing that is sometimes hard to assimilate when striving for growth is that there is always a curve of learning. You will reach plateaus in which you feel you are getting nowhere. This is only natural and something everyone experiences at one time or another. It could be that your mind has been overwhelmed with new information that needs to be absorbed and compartmentalised. It could mean that you have been going forward full throttle and your body needs a break.
There are a number of reasons why it seems that we are on a treadmill gaining no forward momentum but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep the dream alive. Try to be cognizant of what your body or mind is telling you. Learn to take a break when it is needed but don’t let go of your dream. Remember, this too shall pass.
What many successful entrepreneurs have said is that the best way to keep their dream of advancement alive is to think and operate as if they are one level above where they are on the corporate ladder. Not only will this help you to keep reaching forward but it can also offset that plateau that has been the downfall of so many. Keep reaching ahead, even when you are taking an interlude for rest so that you are continually gaining forward momentum.
If you find yourself on a treadmill hit pause, step off and start walking forward again toward your goal.
A Final Note on the Benefits of Mentoring
There is one other thing you can do along the way that will not only help others but will foster growth in yourself as well and that would be to mentor wherever possible. If you are trying to climb the corporate ladder, recognise that others may be looking to advance as well. They may be stumbling in the tasks set out for them, having issues with interpersonal relationships at work or simply not achieving at the level they know they can excel in.
By reaching out to encourage and mentor others, you are not only getting experience in leadership, but you will feel equally edified for your efforts.