Most of us have our daily routine. Due to our habits, our days are generally predictable. We drive the same route, or take the same train or bus to and from work. We eat lunch at the same places, and if we’re disciplined enough, follow an exercise regimen. These consistencies make life and work comfortable.
If you are trying to get ahead at work, however, staying in your comfort zone may not be the answer. Instead, take some lessons from current political campaigns, and find a way to make yourself and your capabilities known. Begin by working on your visibility. Participate fully at meetings. Speak up. Offer your ideas. Better yet, volunteer to be part of a new team or to take on a new assignment. Attend work events, even those that aren’t mandatory. Remember, in your promotion campaign, the more visibility, the better.
Next, find some ways to demonstrate your competence and readiness to lead. For example, if there are any relevant in-service training sessions being planned, offer to assist with a program that covers an area of your expertise. Or, if there is a work problem that needs some attention, suggest an approach for addressing it, and offer to oversee the effort. The goal is get yourself and your work in front of your boss and co-workers.
The hardest part may be directly selling yourself. It may seem awkward to “toot your own horn,” but it is a important part of success. Make an appointment to talk with your supervisor about growth opportunities. Let her know that you are open to, and looking for, new challenges. Don’t make any false claims or oversell your capabilities, but don’t be shy either. If the boss makes suggestions for improvement, follow through after the meeting.
Finally, in any campaign you must be careful of your optics and rhetoric. Don’t miss staff meetings or misuse sick time. Don’t play the devil’s advocate or try to show off your brilliance when important issues are being discussed. Be helpful rather than negative when a colleague is struggling with a problem or is in the hot seat. Don’t gossip and don’t say or post negative things about your boss or management. These may seem like trivial points, but, similar to that political election, a promotion can be swayed by one interview, one event, or one statement. Take preparation seriously and choose your words carefully.
Some employees think that if they just do their jobs and keep their heads down, someone will eventually recognize their contributions and their value. This seldom works. Instead, you need to become proactive and become your own best advocate. You may not be a politician, but you can still conduct a successful workplace campaign.