Working for a couple of years already, I have learned a few things that have helped me along the way, and that I thought I would share. I have had two full time jobs and in both of them I was in the fast track for promotions. I am naturally a very responsible person and generally inclined to do the right thing no matter how painful or boring it is and I know that helped me being perceived well and trusted above my peers most of the times, but I have also identified a few behaviours that have also helped me along the way.
Being organised, neat and snappy is not overrated
If you want to stand a chance for that (early) promotion and be considered a high performer, you don’t only have to deliver on your tasks but you also need to look like you can handle your job plus the one of your direct manager – literally. Therefore, looking organised, neat and just being snappy in doing things and acting and reacting quick is an absolute must. You are not supposed to deliver big or important tasks very fast and badly, there are things that just take their time, but being snappy is best showed in how fast you learn something, delivering small tasks quickly, reacting to things quickly, being proactive so that you can give an impression of being able to solve things well and fairly quickly and being able to handle pretty much anything that comes your way.
Read all that comes in to your hands/in front of your eyes
You need to be knowledgeable or at least look like you are. And there is no better way of doing it then by reading more than everyone else. Whatever company material you have available, Google search for pretty much anything you need to know. Don’t just ask people around you, first do your part and read and get an understanding of the subject and then soak in further knowledge from those around you.
Always underpromise and overdeliver
This is the golden rule when it comes to client interactions, but it is not only applicable to that relationship, but also to how you work with your team/manager, and generally in life. Never ever overpromise. This will always come back and bite you in the bum. And I know a lot about that. After joining my current company, I was “thrown” in a client account that was the king of being overpromised and always get under deliveries. This account was for a long time in emergency mode, with everyone running around and trying to solve things and build things that we did not even have capability for. And this has caused wounds that are not closed even now, after the project they needed was finally delivered, a year after it was initially promised.
Get your time management ability on point
Super important organisational and time management tip: stay on top of your inbox and your calendar. Don’t get lost in it and make sure it is you managing your inbox and not the other way around. Learn to quickly identify senders, people, groups and know on which emails you need to spend time and read carefully, and on which not. If you keep getting distracted and reading for long, slow minutes the same 10 daily emails about something that does not even directly concern you, it’s bad. It’s a sign that you have no idea what you do, what you should pay attention to and what not. You can’t clutter your mind and time with useless information so you better learn how to categorise and prioritize accordingly. Apart from basic inbox management, make sure that you know how to organise your time, identify quick wins that you can quickly deliver on and take them out of your way and pour time into the big, chunky, important tasks.
Meeting minutes are important
I have only come across this concept in my second job. In my first job, taking and sharing call minutes after each client call did not really make sense. But with my current consulting role, I am supporting my clients on an ongoing basis and we both undergo a project, which means that there are actions that each of us has to take and deliver on, there are decisions that are being taken or discussed, and it is extremely important to document that and hold both sides accountable.
I think I could go on with a few more things, but these are the first ones that came into mind at first and that I consider as a basis for a good start. I am not claiming to be the best professional around, or having crazy experience, but I’ve done a few things well and I believe if you apply any of the tips above, it will only do you well and it will help you be better at work.