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What Impacts Career Progression?

Today I want to talk about career progression. I coach a lot of people who are frustrated with their perceived lack of achievement at work. They see people who they know are not as skilled, not as hardworking and don’t have the same potential rising to better roles and they just don’t know why.

Rather than go down the route of doubting yourself and lowering your self-belief, try and remain objective and understand what might be blocking you.

This list is not exhaustive but, in my experience, these are some of the common areas to audit:

Environment and Fit, Behaviours, Skills, Attitudes, Branding, Network

In your company – what do these mean? Spend some time understanding them, environment and fit – this is about you fitting into the environment in which you are working and fitting in with the people.

What type of leadership style is used in your organisation – autocratic, consultative, indecisive, slow to react? How do you feel about that – are you part of it or are you different to it? Do you relate well to the people who can influence your future? Do you behave like they do – are you one of them, in other words do you fit in, will you ever fit in?

In terms of branding, do you have the right look or do you need the right look? I recently coached a female who was making an unsuccessful claim to be FD of a building society – the feedback I got was that her look was wrong. Crazy that may seem, but it if it makes you stand out for the wrong reasons then that nonverbal message seriously impacts how people behave towards you. Choose your battles – if you refuse to fit, you may remain stuck where you don’t want to be. If you choose to conform, then you can make changes once you are in the position.

If you don’t fit, you don’t have to jump ship straight away! Start to look at the networks that are around you. What is the quality of your key business relationships? Line Manager / Stakeholders/ Colleagues • in own department • In other departments / Direct Reports / Customers / Suppliers. Think carefully about this and be honest – where your relationships are strong, understand exactly why that is and understand how you can leverage that. If they are not so good, ask yourself why?

How about your attitude? Do you prefer people or tasks and does this impact how you relate to others? If you are in a happy go lucky, friendly environment and you are focused totally on tasks – you could well be seen negatively, despite the fact that you are hardworking. If you like a laugh and chat with people who are not people focussed, you could be seen as a pain to have around.

Are your skills up to date? Write down the personal development that you have undertaken in the last 5 years – how long is the list? Are you up to discussing the latest tools and suggesting new ways of doing things or do you think that it all works perfectly well as it is?

Don’t be a victim, do something that is objective and proactive and be prepared to deal with whatever you learn about yourself. If you are staying where you are then ask these 3 questions of some trusted colleagues: What should I start doing, stop doing and do more of?

Don’t argue with the responses, listen and understand then choose what you want to improve to set you on your more positive way up the ladder and not down the snake.

Penny Whitelock

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