You might argue, but it is my opinion that you really can't expect to walk through the office door a virtuoso. It will take a bit of time to become established and set yourself apart from the crowd. That is perfectly fine.
Keeping your nose to the grindstone is a great place to start, but a solid "brand" strategy is even better. You need to set a projected path and make the most of every interaction. Whatever you are doing, make a commitment to do it well — no matter what the task. It is your behavior that will identify you as something extraordinary.
Tom Peter's classic article “The Brand Called You” emphasized the importance of developing your own career brand in a fast-paced world of work, and I fully agree with his premise. Standing out in a sea of competition can be daunting, and branding is a savvy perspective to consider. You are your own brand — and you have the controls to impact that brand.
What do you add to the workplace? Strive to be unique. Be remarkable. Make a solid commitment that your skills and your attitude mesh with the brand of a "high potential" employee.
Here are a few ideas to start:
How have you developed your own brand? Ideas welcome.
- Start listening and talk less. Developing your ability to listen strategically is a critical skill in the workplace. Key to this skill is having the smarts to stay quiet and absorb the talent that is all around you. Grow this way.
- Find your "Achilles heel." Your weaknesses can hold you back, so be sure to identify these early on. It's not pleasant to consider, but tackling these problems can help catapult your career forward.
- Be the link. Moving forward in an organization requires a broad focus. How does your function and role contribute to the success of your organization? Be sure you understand this. Then be sure others know you understand.
- Read more. There are some great titles out there to help you get a grip on your specific industry. For a start, find out what your boss is reading.
- Find a mentor or a sponsor. Navigating the world of work can be a challenge; seeking out a different perspective can be a huge advantage.
- Raise your hand for projects that everyone is avoiding. Remember that the tougher the assignment, the more you stand to learn about really getting things done.
- Learn to collaborate and function effectively on a team. Learn about how decisions are made and who is making those decisions. Learn about the contributions of other functional area teams.
- Chart a self-improvement course. Don’t wait for your supervisor to suggest training and development opportunities — always have a list on your radar. Stay alert for development opportunities that will make a real impact on your career path and prepare you for the next step. Don’t ignore the basics, such as presentation skills. Pose these ideas to your boss.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Organizational Psychologist who specializes in work survival strategies, corporate culture, and organizational change. She is a Practice Manager at Rand-Gottschalk & Associates, a consulting firm that helps employees and businesses excel. She is author of the blog The Blend, which addresses current workplace topics and issues and also serves as a LinkedIn Influencer.