Circling endlessly for a parking spot, braving mob pits for a deal and waiting in long checkout lines at shopping malls… ahhhh, the holiday season is in full swing. The season of gifting is also the time of giving to worthy causes: like your career.
Perhaps you are one of the thousands of generous people who donate money and time during the holidays, but what about donating more of yourself at work? It’s been my experience that when I gave more at the office, I got more out of and from my work.
My abuelita used to tell me, “El que no llora, no mama”. The lesson translates to: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Many frustrated colleagues share with me that they aren’t getting the promotion they believe they deserve. They expect managers to notice and acknowledge their good work with a raise or other form of advancement. That’s all well and good, but waiting for your boss to tap you on your shoulder isn’t the best idea.
A much more assertive approach is to just let them know what you want. This isn’t a guarantee that you’re going to get the promotion, but at the very least it starts the conversation about what you need to work on in order to earn it.
Do not be afraid to fail. The path to success is paved with mistakes. In order to innovate, it is important for you to adopt a risk-taking approach to your work. I learned from the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University that a fast and least disruptive method in embracing risk is to design and then do it.
The objective doesn’t have to be mind-blowing either; it’s best to keep it simple. Design a road map to reach a realistic stretch goal and then provide a timetable to doing it. This will be the blueprint you and your colleagues will use to ask the right questions, evaluate progress and delegate responsibilities. The lessons learned from the mistakes you make along the way will help your team produce new products and services ensuring your business remains competitive.
No one likes the office Scrooge. Work can often be overwhelming with office politics, deadlines and making revenue targets. Don’t be the co-worker who always has something or someone to complain about. Instead be the one who stays positive and motivates others to do their best.
Getting to know colleagues better personally will help you understand them better professionally. I was part of an ESPN team which developed a team building initiative to improve workplace communication and and understanding. We facilitated events where employees interacted in activities outside of the workplace and during work hours. We found that networking over exercises like painting, bowling or sharing a meal improved how they collaborated on assignments.
Sure, the workload can be tough at times, but you’re not alone. It helps when you tackle assignments as a team.
Successful employees think strategically about their business. They come up with solutions now by anticipating future problems. That’s how managers think and that’s one of the best ways for you to get promoted.
As a change agent, I often leave the dance floor in order to get a better perspective from the balcony. It’s a figurative exercise which helps me not only problem solve, but problem avoid.
Employees too often lean on their bosses to solve problems and tell them what to do. When you’re a problem solver you demonstrate that you not only care about your responsibilities, but also about the well-being of the business.
Besides, making things better at work also makes things better for you.
Know Your Customers
How well do you know your customers? Are you supplying them with the right products and services? Those questions are getting more difficult to answer.
Take for instance holiday shopping. The perennial Black Friday sight of hundreds of consumers lining up outside department stores is dissipating as more and more consumers are using their smartphones to hunt for bargains. How is that continuously evolving dynamic changing how goods are marketed and sold?
Respect your customers. Don’t be overconfident that you know them better than they know themselves. Use research tools to not only gain better understanding about clients, but also shifts in the marketplace.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so go ahead and give generously to your favorite causes this holiday season—and make sure to include your career among them.
Hugo Balta is the Senior Director of Hispanic Initiatives at ESPN; his work focuses on collaborative projects across platforms and networks focused on best serving U.S. Hispanics. More articles like these on Straight Talk.