Shifting your Mindset, Managing Up & Other Tips for Career Growth
By Nicole Spiegel-Gotsch
Let’s face it, figuring out how to grow your career can seem like an epic challenge. Have you been in a role for a few years and are trying to figure out what’s next? Or are you weighing a career decision that would take you in a different direction than you originally envisioned for yourself? Each one of these decisions can feel like a crossroads. A brief moment that can significantly impact future opportunities and choices. So, how do you decide what’s right for you? Where do you start?
One of the most important pieces of advice I can share is to embrace the idea that nothing is permanent. It’s never too late to change your mind, move in another direction or start something new. If you do that, you may notice the whole process of contemplating your future becomes lighter. Once you make that mental shift, you’ll find it a lot easier to discover the right answer for you. Now, for the practical stuff. Wherever you’re at in your professional journey, here are five tips that will help you.
1. Look for Career Role Models
This one comes to me courtesy of Nina Young from a career conversation with her and the gifted students at City Tech – New York City College of Technology. LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to see people’s career trajectories, including the roles and responsibilities they’ve had.
Look at how people were promoted up through the ranks or made a career switch to learn what a potential path might look like for you. This is especially useful for creatives and fields that don’t have strictly defined career tracks.
2. Ask for What You Want
In Stefan Sagmeister’s The Happy Film (if you haven’t seen it, you should) there’s a simple phrase— “If I don’t ask, I don’t get.” This is equally true in work as it is in life. If you’re interested in learning a particular skill, about another role or part of your organization—speak up!
Ask what’s available to you. Perhaps you can take a course, shadow a colleague or work on a test project as part of your professional development. Some companies even have a job swap program where employees swap jobs for a certain period of time.
3. Be an Intrapreneur
My loose definition of an intrapreneur is someone who brings an entrepreneurial spirit to their company or organization or as this Harvard Business Review article describes it, “acting like an innovative entrepreneur but within the ecosystem of a larger, more traditional, organization.”
While intrapreneurship can take many forms, I’ve experienced it as innovating from within a department on the business, product or creative side. Processes and systems are other areas that can be ripe for intrapreneurship.
4. Learn to Manage Up
This is one of the most important skills I have learned in my career. I’ve always thought of managing up as being rooted in communication and alignment. Understanding your manager’s goals for the business, themselves and you—and working in a way that moves those things forward.
This doesn’t mean “kissing up” or agreeing with everything your boss says. It’s more about being proactive and engaged. For example, letting them know if you spot a potential bottleneck on an important project, bringing ideas to the table and actively communicating with them about your workload and priorities.
5. Build Relationships at Every Level
When it comes to relationship building (or networking), there’s a tendency to underestimate the importance of cultivating and growing relationships with junior colleagues and peers. Today’s intern could be tomorrow’s CEO, or depending on the circumstance, vice versa! Treat everyone with the same degree of kindness, consideration and respect regardless of title because you never know who could be your next manager, mentor, collaborator, cofounder or friend.