When we are looking to stretch ourselves with more job responsibility, or even a job promotion, sometimes the most difficult step is sending our readiness out into the universe. We can map career goals and seek out opportunities but demonstrating your capability for a bigger role is paramount. In this month’s newsletter we are going to define steps and strategies to show them you’re ready for more.
Own projects from start to finish
One of the best ways to demonstrate your competence is by developing expert level knowledge of your projects from their scope (objectives, budget, timeline, key stakeholders) to the real-time metrics of their success (progress, setbacks, remaining deliverables, potential issues). Know enough to speak confidently in a team meeting or to share a snapshot with a colleague or key stakeholder. Keep an updated list of your top three priorities to ensure a dynamic approach to managing the work even when deadlines seem a long way off in the distance.
Part of taking genuine ownership, of course, is knowing when to let someone know when things aren’t going well. Whether it’s a crisis or a slow slide backwards, take a minute to organize your thoughts. Why isn’t the project going to plan? What 2-3 potential improvements to the managing tasks that might put the train back on the track? How long would it take to make the changes? It’s important to take responsibility if you could have handled something better but aim for productive solutions in place of over-apologizing.
Report back regularly to key stakeholders
Even when things are going well, be proactive about reporting back to your managers and team leaders. Keep it to a high-level overview but here are some formats that might work:
- “Last week, this week, next week” in an email- offer some context for where we’ve been, explain any new information from the past few days, and list upcoming tasks.
- Drop in and say it casually- Some supervisors respond best with a quick visit at the beginning or end of the day- whenever they have more time to focus.
- Establish your own Friday wrap up template- Every Friday, on your way out the door, send a few notes in an email about a specific project or issue.
Notice where you need support
Of course, we can’t be perfect at every single thing but notice where you consistently fall short of expectations. Forgetting to update the monthly report every now and again is normal. However, if you are always overwhelmed by the status updates, unable to start without reminders, and consistently populating the spreadsheet with errors, you might need a little mentoring in task management. Are you having trouble focusing? Do you need to find an app that can help you stay organized? Don’t be afraid to talk to colleagues about their process. Also think about asking your manager for advice and suggestions to make sure they know how serious you are about being efficient in your work.
Be a confident decision-maker
When you spend too much time considering what could go wrong, it’s hard to make a move. To avoid decision-paralysis, it can help to set a specific amount of “thinking through it” time, similar to a deadline. Write a list of potential outcomes and consider seeking help from an outside party. Remain objective and try to avoid emotion and, especially, don’t let the fear of judgement from others hold you back. Forbes Magazine reminds, “it’s progress not perfection.” In other words, it’s better to take an action that might be imperfect then do nothing at all.
Demonstrate your commitment to those around you
In addition to pitching in and maintaining a strong work ethic, the way we talk about our work can speak volumes about our commitment to our organization and colleagues. A confident leader is careful to avoid taking too much credit or, conversely, sounding defensive. Consider the messaging that results from the following phrases:
But also… learn to accept praise
While humility is an attribute of strong leadership, don’t turn away praise when it comes your way. If someone tells you that you’re doing a good job, make sure they know how appreciative you are that they took the time to tell you. Accepting compliments can be awkward but positive feedback is as critical to your success as critical words. You might say, “I’ve been really lucky to have been placed on this team” but don’t squirm or change the subject. You earned it!