With over 50 years’ experience, climbing the corporate ladder to become Chief Financial Officer of a company generating in excess of £7 billion a year, the retired ‘reddit’ poster, [-]ifurmothronlyknw has seen it all and has 10 great Career Tips to boot. He has passed on a high level summary of what he’s learnt in that time and what it really takes to get promoted and make an impact.
1.) Knowledge- Learn you job
Learn everything about it. If someone asks a question that has ANYTHING to do with your job you better have the answer. There should literally be nothing you do not know. If there is something you don’t know then ask. Always ask questions. Ask DUMB questions. You’d be surprised at how NOT dumb your question is. As someone who was higher up in the workplace, if I gave a task to someone and he/she didn’t ask questions after I explained what I was looking for- I immediately knew that he/she didn’t fully understand what I was asking of them and were going to turn in a shitty finished product.
2.) Take pride in what you do
This is a message for people of all ages. If you are going to be a dishwasher, be the BEST ****ing dishwasher that there ever was! My father owned some restaurants when I was a child. Early on when I was “working” for him he asked me to wash dishes. I walked to that dish area with my head down feeling dejected and disrespected by my father… I thought, “How dare he put me on dishes. Why not someone else?” Those were my feelings – and it showed in my work. To me, I was better than the work I was doing. Little did I know I was a piece of shit KID who knew NOTHING about life… He saw my finished product, and he said to me- “son, are you happy with how this looks? Do you realize that every time you hand in a finished product, your name is attached to it, and when you turn in shit it makes you look like shit. You are not above doing dishes. I own the restaurant, and I am not above doing dishes. Take pride in what you do… you don’t realize it now, but when you turn in finished products like you just did with these ‘clean’ dishes, people little by little people will lose respect for you. No matter what you are doing, be the best at it, work as hard as you can on it, your name is attached to it.
3.) Never go to your boss with a problem
Believe me, she knows the problems, you work for her because she wants you to bring her solutions not problems. It is her boss’ job to bring her problems not you. If you do uncover a problem that you think your boss does not know about and you need to tell her- first, COMPLETELY understand the problem. Do not come to him with wishy/washy data… “Well it might be this” or “it might be that”.. BULLSHIT… Know EXACTLY what the problem is. Offer a solution…better yet, offer solutions. ANTICIPATE questions. If you were hearing this for the first time what questions would you have? Have answers to them all.
A.) ID Problem B.) Educate on what you learned C.) Anticipate questions D.) Offer 3 solutions E.) Give your recommendation on which you would pick.
4.) When your boss asks you to do something, Do it NOW and do it GREAT!
This will prove your value. When your boss asks you to do a project it should be taken as a compliment. He came to you for a reason, because he trusts you, now prove him right. Stop everything you were doing and focus on the task your boss gave you…. Eventually, he will give you bigger tasks, he will look to you as his person… and eventually the projects will be so big and important it will be over your current role and pay scale- and here is where the promotion comes.
Side note to this – learn how your boss likes to see things. When he asks for an excel spreadsheet, is there a certain format he likes? A certain way he likes to see the information? Give it to him that way.
5.) Answer your emails
Don’t be an asshole- answer your emails and answer them fast. Don’t be the person who doesn’t get back to anyone. When you get an email- make your responses prompt- if you don’t understand something- ASK.
6.) Things slow at work? Find a project
Do not come to me and ask what you should be doing. I would have young college grads come up to me and say- “what can I do?” and they think that they are taking some sort of initiative. Like they’re telling me they want more work and I should be impressed with this. Bullshit. Go read number 3 above one more time. This kind of question is just bringing another problem to your boss who now has to stop what he is doing just to babysit and keep you busy. Go find something. Still not sure, ****ing figure it out!
7.) Come up with an organizational system that works for you
This is not only important for your professional life but it will be helpful for every aspect of your life. One of my favourite sayings is, work smarter not harder. If you’re constantly trying to find your shit, you’re unorganised, you have no clue where anything is, you will have to work 100x as hard to find it than you would if you had a system in place. Most of the time I find that unorganised people usually cannot find anything and just forget/make things up/guess/or ask the same questions that were asked 5 meetings ago. Put a system in place! I cannot stress the importance of this enough. If you don’t know where to start or where good resources are for organizational systems, start with a book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. If you learn this system (or something like it) your life will be much less chaotic and stressful. This is just one that I used and loved. Implementing this in my life, along with the help of Evernote, I was able to go completely paperless. I would even scan my handwritten notes from meetings to a designated email address that would automatically go to a bucket that I had already predetermined that it should go to. If I had a meeting on project number 75 that I’m in the middle of right now, my system was to take notes, scan it to a certain email address, and that scan would automatically go to a folder titled “Project Number 75”. Honestly, it’s pretty ****ing awesome.
8.) Never stop learning
You got your MBA so you’re done with school.. BULLSHIT. If you said this before trust me you are not as smart as you think. Listen to a Great Course on Audible.com, go to Lynda.com and enrol in a course- just keep learning.
9.) Look the part
Take pride in your appearance. Wear professional clothes. If money is a problem go to a place like Kohl’s, they have sales 365 days/year and you’re guaranteed to be able to find something in your budget. And EXERCISE. it is good for your mind and body. Workout before work, during your lunch break, or after work. And eat healthy- food feeds your body and mind- fill your body with fuel not with shit.
10.) Be on time
This is my short list of things- I have a lot more advice but I don’t want to bore you with my rambling. Honestly, do these 10 things and you will get promoted in a year, I promise you.
This advice will strike a chord with many people and for some, feel like an impossible task to take on board given their current job situation. Perhaps there is discord with colleagues or superiors or the motivation is lacking which makes it impossible to make the changes. Our working environment if perceived to be negative and unfulfilling dictates how we deal with any issues that happen in the workplace. Unresolved issues that are left to fester have a far reaching consequences as they have a monumental impact on mental health and key relationships (in particular at home) and from the company’s perspective, as harsh as this sounds, their bottom line. The workplace can be a political minefield and if you are going to spend the best part of your week somewhere, you owe it to yourself to ensure your environment is as supportive as possible and sometimes this means ‘speaking up’ without fear of reprisal.
If you are going to shine you need to be in an environment where you can be true to yourself and staff and customers are treated and treat each other with openness, honesty and integrity. If that is not happening, either find a way of doing it or move on says Tim Martin, CEO of SpeakInConfidence.com. Find it and you can spend your time improving your workplace and yourself at the same time. If it is missing, you will spend too much time battling the wrong sort of politics and are unlikely to succeed (or even to want to).
In any job (even one you absolutely love) it’s a good idea to think about what return you are
getting yourself. A company will always view you as an investment and whether or not they are getting a return for their money. It can be a cathartic process to undergo the same thought process to evaluate whether or not you personally, are also getting a return from staying in your current position / company etc. Answering some basic questions about what the return is for the time you dedicate to your employer is time well spent. Ask yourself where you want to be in the mid-long term and divert your energy elsewhere the answer isn’t what you wanted it to be.