A lot of attention has been paid lately to great companies and what makes them great. But what kind of people do the best companies seek to hire? If you’re looking for a career shift and hope to earn your way into one of those coveted positions at top companies, here’s a few traits to cultivate to ensure your work is so good that people will start to take notice of you.
1. Focus on results
Truly valuable people don’t complain about how difficult their work is. Instead of raising problems, they bring solutions. They always have a mentality of being a problem-solver, because they know that being able to manage difficult situations is a skill that will earn them the respect of their colleagues and the trust of their bosses. Highlight what results you have achieved from overcoming a difficult situation - that is what your employer really wants to hear. If you want to be an employee that is invaluable, the kind that is sought out for promotions, recognize the fact that your bosses are busy people. If you can help them take several things off their plate, and do it extremely well, you will stand out head and shoulders above your peers.
2. Provide your recommended solutions when asking for a decision to be made
Don’t make your bosses and superiors answer an essay question when you ask them to make a decision about something. Avoid open-ended questions such as “What should we do?” Instead, let them answer multiple choice questions. Propose a few options, and express your recommended choice. "I know it is difficult to choose between A and B, but I would personally go for A because of these reasons - and I will bear the responsibility if it doesn’t work out.”
3. Know what to track and how to conduct post-mortems
When a project is assigned to you, don’t try to report every single detail of how it is going to your employer. Your boss is a busy person, and wants to know that you have things under control. Understand which are the key things to track, and which are the key aspects of the project that determine its success or failure. When you are able to provide regular progress reports about these key elements, your employer will have peace of mind and faith in you to carry out the project successfully. When a project has ended, ensure you make the effort to rally the team together to talk about what went well, what could have been done better, and what were some of the major mistakes made. From those learnings, be prepared to share with your superiors what are some of the key learnings you’ve made as a team, and how you will implement any improvements and best practices to your day to day work or your next project.
4. Identify success metrics when you assign tasks to others
When assigning work to others, set clear metrics about what a job well done looks like. Be specific about your expectations so you can receive the quality of work you are looking for. Many people are quick to focus on implementing their plans or ticking things of a to-do list, but not many track their progress, and review if what they’ve done actually contributes back to the end goal or exceeds expectations. The way to be sure you get the right results is to be clear about what the measurables are from the start.
5. Care about others
Whether it be the challenges faced by your bosses or by your reports, listen carefully. Listening allows you to understand people’s behavior and perspectives, and helps you find out how you can influence them to drive things in the right direction. Also, learn to listen to things that are left unsaid, and conveyed through body language. This will improve your interpersonal awareness and strengthen your relationships with those around you. When people feel understood, they will appreciate working with you.
6. Conduct work transfers ethically
When people get promoted, are transferred to another department, or leave a company, often, they fail to ensure they have done a thorough job in transferring their knowledge and experience to the person taking over. Be transparent and share not only what they need to know, but also the mistakes you’ve made and the learnings you’ve gained along the way. Whether unconsciously or not, don’t create any handicaps for your successor get into the position as soon as possible. Remember, if you’re looking to advance in your career or gain a promotion, the fastest way to do that is to prove you’ve trained a successor who is ready to take your place so that you can move on to bigger things.
7. Be reflective and share your journey with others.
Have you met the kind of people who are always frank and open about their mistakes, the lessons they have learnt, and are always sharing their experiences with others so that others may benefit from it? Be that kind of person. What are some of the right decisions you have made? The wrong ones? How can you share that knowledge to enrich others around you? Great companies seek people who don’t just do great work, but who have huge positive influence on others, and who help others to grow in their own careers as well.
8. Don’t be too busy
The most successful people aren’t the ones who are constantly stressed out, playing tetris with their calendars, trying to fit tiny chunks of time into an already packed schedule. If someone is always seen as “too busy”, it shows that he or she is poor at time management and does not have his or her priorities in order. If you feel you are one of those people, ask yourself, “Do I really need to do all that I’m doing? Who can I delegate some of these things to? What are the things I should prioritize and what should I stop doing or be doing more efficiently?” Be honest with yourself and schedule in time every now and then to recharge!
9. Be a 360-degree leader
A 360-degree leader is someone who leads in every direction. He manages the expectations of his or her bosses, peers, and reports, and knows how to communicate and what to communicate to people at different levels of the organization. A 360-degree leader gives his or her superiors peace of mind by keeping them abreast of only the most important updates, keeps direct reports motivated by articulating to them what they need to achieve, and collaborates well with peers in order to achieve the best outcomes.
To summarize, the best way to win the admiration of your employer and put yourself in the running for new opportunities or promotions is to have a mindset of ownership. Treat the company as if it is your own, and you will be noticed. If not, perhaps it's time to consider a career move.