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How to Get Ahead at Work

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

When my network of contacts found out I would be hosting a workplace situation advice segment, "Take a Break with Your Career Coach Michelle Yozzo Drake," for WLIU 88.3 FM, I was flooded with requests for advice on topics ranging from "how to crawl out from under the daily avalanche of e-mail" to "the best ways to change jobs without burning bridges."

As I (hope to) become the "Dear Abby" of the business world, I'll be sharing the questions e-mailed and posted to me as well as the insights and advice I have to offer in my blog. Please feel free to post your *questions in the comments section of any of my entries or e-mail them to me at info@covegroup.com, and the next time you check back here with me, you might just find your answer!

*I dare you to try and stump me! To be fair, I should mention that I'll be calling on my contacts - experts in a wide variety of business fields - to share their opinions with me, too. So bring on the issues!

Today's Q&A Topic: "Working Hard WON'T Get You a Promotion"

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Mark from Stony Brook, Long Island, asks:

Dear Michelle,

I work really hard at my job. I work twice as hard as a lot of the other people in my office. They spend a lot of time talking about football and fishing and all kinds of things with the boss when they really should be working. But they keep getting the great projects. They keep getting promoted and I don't.

What can I do to show my boss that I'm the person who's doing all the work around here and that I should be the one getting promoted?

Well, Mark, I think the first thing you need to realize is that working hard alone isn't going to get you a promotion. There are a lot of other factors and skills that need to get demonstrated in order for your boss to feel comfortable enough to promote you or to give you high-profile projects: likeability, strategic thinking, your ability to be a team player, how you motivate others, etc.

Take a look at whether you are spending any time interacting with others. If all your work is seated at your desk, then your boss is going to have a big question mark next to you when it comes to whether or not you can manage other people or lead a project that requires full team efforts. You should be taking about twenty minutes out of each day to network - to do some of the things that you're criticizing the others for doing, like finding out what your boss is interested in, learning about different people in the office, and letting them learn a little bit about you. That networking will be a very valuable tool in being able to increase the trust factor that your boss has in you and your ability to lead a team.

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You also need to CLEARLY demonstrate the hard work you do and how you manage your time effectively. If you find that you are putting in a lot of overtime hours, you might think that that's a good thing for the boss to see. But what the boss may see in that is that you don't manage your time well and you're struggling to keep up with what you already have on your plate. Define your work hours and stick to them. You know that every now and then you're going to need to put a little overtime in, but if it's an everyday occurrence, then you need to take a good look at how you're managing your time. Are you using your tools effectively?

Finally, you really need to make sure that you are VISIBLE, If you are always at your desk and behind the scenes keeping your nose to the grindstone, then you may not be making your boss aware of who is actually doing the work. When there are opportunities to present projects and to present information, you should be raising your hand and stepping up to the plate. Being the "worker bee" is not necessarily going to get you the raise. Demonstrating your ability to lead is going to give you opportunities that down the road will really pay off in advancing your career.


For more FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!




I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances. Martha Washington