Climbing the career ladder is never easy, but life in a post-pandemic world has made it even harder. You can no longer pitch the boss your latest idea in the elevator or impress from the sidelines in a boardroom meeting. But, experts say you can still prove that you are a top performer, even if you’re hundreds of miles away from the office. Psychologists, career coaches and business leaders explain to us six main ways you can make sure that out of sight, isn’t out of mind.
1. Nurture your network
While COVID-19 is stopping you from having catch-ups by the watercooler or joining your colleagues for drinks, it’s important that you continue to network says Tegan Trovato, CEO of Bright Arrow Executive Coaching. “Ask your boss, peers, cross-functional partners, and other stakeholders for a virtual coffee every few weeks,” says the Forbes Coaches Council member. “Declare that your intention is to catch up and hear what is going on in their world.” During your Zoom or BlueJeans call, Trovato suggests that you talk about key work projects, challenges and successes, while at the same time telling them about what is happening in your personal life as long as it’s appropriate. Trovato adds: “You should invite the same from them and ask how you can support them in their own challenges.”
2. Learn new skills
When the world starts to change so do the skills required to survive in it. Look at company reports to see where your business is making investments or read the company’s press releases to stay on top of its goals. If they are looking at new markets, ask yourself if you have the skills to support them in this venture. If you don’t have those skills, look at how you can gain them. “Doing this makes you a more competent employee and increases your chances of getting promoted,” says Chris Muktar, founder of Wikijob. With the pandemic even more courses have moved online and now that you are no longer commuting you can use that travel time to increase your skillset.
3. Keep communication channels open
If you want to stay at the forefront of people’s minds, keep the communication channels open between you, your boss and potential decision makers, says organizational psychologist Eamonn Leaver. Whether it’s with Slack, Trello, or Microsoft Teams, use the technology you have at your fingertips to stay in contact. “Provide progress updates, share information, or just quickly check-in to see if anyone needs help,” says Leaver. “This helps demonstrate that you’re working productively at home and delivering on agreed project goals.” It also shows that you can be trusted as a team member and no matter what conditions you are faced with you will continue to stay on track.
4. Raise your profile
Zoom fatigue may be taxing to the brain, but if you want to raise your profile you need to be visible. Your bosses have very little face time with you at the moment and you may find that it’s in a virtual meeting where you could make your mark. Trovato says: “We often overlook opportunities via update meetings to cite wins because we are already on to the next challenge or obligation.”
However, research has shown that rolling out your brag sheet can create a conundrum, for if you don’t speak up you can go unnoticed and if you do speak up it can be seen as boastful and frowned upon. American social psychologist Adam Galinsky says a tool that can help you navigate this tight rope is to advocate for others. When you are on your virtual call, use the time to list the wins of your team members rather than use it as a platform to talk about your own successes. This way you will still appear ambitious, assertive and likeable.
5. Rise to the challenge
In the past lazy bosses would simply reward the people who would be the first to arrive in the office or the last to leave, says David Watling, a learning and development specialist who works with The Big Four. However, in a post-COVID world it’s not about the hours you put in, but your output. “High performers can use this opportunity to showcase the value they create and the results they deliver,” he says.
A great way to reassert your value is to start by wearing more hats, says Darrell Rosenstein, founder of The Rosenstein Group, a recruiting firm for ecommerce. “This is a chance to do more and to contribute to the growth of your team and the company as a whole; this kind of initiative will not go unnoticed by your manager and other decision-makers,” he explains.
6. Do a career audit
Whether you are working in an office or remotely you can find out if you are in a position to be promoted by doing a career audit, says Larry Sternberg, coauthor of “Managing to Make A Difference”. The US-based human resources expert says that by asking yourself a few challenging questions you’ll be able to see if you’re already working at the next level. “Do you inspire your teammates to work harder and reach higher? How often do you see what other people do well and position them to succeed? And how many people naturally turn to you for answers or advice or a listening ear?,” says Sternberg. Then once you’ve answered that ask yourself does your manager trust you implicitly? And finally, where do you have influence even though you don’t have formal power or authority? Once you answer these questions says Sternberg, you will be able see which areas that you need to work on in order to climb the next rung of the ladder. If you have answered all five questions with ease, then maybe it’s time to schedule a virtual coffee with your boss.
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About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.