You fail to earn the promotion that you expected. The raises are announced, and you are in the middle-of-the-pack. You lose out on a high-profile project assignment. When you experience these unfortunate events, it’s easy to blame politics. I find it funny that people often blame “politics” as if it were a person. They even get angry thinking about Mr. Politics. Some might even assign facial characteristics and a personality to Ms. Politics. Mr. Politics is unbearable! Ms. Politics looks stupid!
Focusing on What You Can Control
I find it much easier to focus on what I can control. For example, I have a job description, and my requirements are clear. My goal is to ensure that work gets done right and early. Note that I started early. The work that is assigned to you must be of high quality, and it should be done early. In other words, you need to be a reliable person that works ahead of schedule.
Many of those who blame politics for failing to succeed in their organization often do shoddy work that is delivered after the deadline. Of course, these helpless individuals are going to blame someone else for falling short of expectations, such as a missing report, an incompetent team member, and even the tsunami in Japan. The excuses are endless, often requiring a high-level of creativity.
Make Yourself Accountable
I just mentioned you should make yourself accountable for the work that you do. From my experience, fewer than 20% of the readers will heed this advice. When you are accountable for getting your work done right and on time, you get on the radar. Everyone knows that when you are on the radar, the pressure increases, and you are expected to deliver on what you promised.
If you wish to climb the ladder faster, assume more responsibility. The work doesn’t have to be glamorous. It really doesn’t matter. The fact is that your director is going to assign you more work because you have shown the willingness and ability to perform.
Avoid making a big deal out of it. Let your manager know that you just need guidance regarding the expectations of the assignment. You also need funding, resources, and help removing some obstacles when they arise. You are not looking for someone to micromanage you. In other words, you are an empowered employee, one that can make important decisions when necessary.
The Stairs are the Only Option at First
I mentioned in this series that you can climb the corporate ladder faster “without killing yourself.” Some of you are thinking about doing work quicker and assuming more responsibilities. That sounds like a strategy that kills. However, that is far from the truth.
You are right that moving up requires you to do hard work at first, which means using the stairs, and not the elevator. However, after a few years of over-delivering, you can expect the climb to be easier. Once you’ve shown that you bring value to the organization, you will earn the promotions, raises, and recognition that make your investment during the early days worthwhile.
The point here is that the progression up the corporate ladder has less to do with politics and more to do with your undeniable commitment to hard work.