Eventually, most smart professionals adapt to new circumstances on their own.
But the truly savvy ones have “street smarts” — or the ability to assess environments and make adjustments quickly.
15 Smart Tips to Get Ahead at Work
1. Live Up to Your Reputation
It helps to know why you were hired or promoted. You should make an effort to find out what it is about you that others particularly value. It may not be so obvious as you think. And if you don’t know why you were chosen, you may find it harder to fulfill their expectations.
Getting such feedback makes it easier to live up to your reputation, knowing what it looks like from someone’s point of view other than your own.
2. Talk to Your Predecessor
When you succeed to someone else’s job, it’s very easy to think you can do better.
A big mistake.
Instead, ask him questions like what his expectations were when starting off in the position that now is yours?
What adjustments did he have to make? What advice does he have for you? When you learn about your predecessor’s priorities and operating style, compare them to your own.
Everyone around will need some time to adjust to the differences.
3. Bear Hug your Detractors.
It helps to know why some people hang back or seem a bit hostile. Maybe they wanted the position that you got or preferred someone else. Don’t avoid them even though they prefer to avoid you.
Use the “bear hug” approach — try to keep them close so they can’t hit you as easily. When two people at workplace have their differences, they often stop trying to learn more about each other, which might improve their working relationship.
The bear hug approach doesn’t let that happen.
4. Find the Custodians
Understanding the “real” business, how it really works, is indispensable if you want to make your mark early and well.
Look for the unofficial leaders, those you can learn from about the culture of the place — what makes it special, what people value. These “custodians” are the ones who can tell you, “This is how we do things around here.”
They may not have important titles or functions, but they speak for others, so seek them out and learn what you can.
5. Get to Know the Gatekeepers
The resources of a business are always limited and contested.
Obviously those with power and authority are in command of such resources, but it is usually their assistants, lacking any official power of their own, who act as resource gatekeepers. That is why it makes sense to cultivate someone’s assistant who plays such a role.
6. Make a Good First Impression
When someone knows nothing about you, how you act in your first encounter can be a significant moment in shaping what your
working relationship will be.
In the first round of the game, extend the hand of cooperation, give them a thumbs-up. If they don’t reciprocate, then, in the next round, give them a thumbs-down. Tit for Tat is a very simple strategy of play, “do unto others as they do unto you.”
You become known as someone who is always ready to cooperate but will not be played for a sucker.
7. Walk Your Talk
Be sure to make your actions consistent with your words. You want your “talk” to be believable, or people will not be inclined to take you seriously.
Will you actually do what you say? Once your word is doubted, you will find it harder to get things done that require not just your follow-through but the cooperation of others as well.
8. Work With Others to Frame a Problem
It is not enough to think you know what the problem is. It also matters what other players think the problem is. When you frame a problem with others, getting it right is often less important than getting agreement on how to proceed — it has to be constructed together.
Because there is little chance that once a problem is framed that you or anyone else, higher-up or lower-down, can solve it alone.
9. Help Your Boss
Your boss is entitled to know what is going on, but she is also entitled to your best efforts in helping her deal with bad news.
Consider delivering the message with some remedy in mind. Don’t just lay the problem, like a dead bird, at her doorstep and then steal away.
If you were in her shoes, wouldn’t you want some help? Maybe your advice or remedy won’t work, but at least she knows that you are looking after her interests and not just your own.
10. Prepare for Meetings
Meetings involve complicated interpersonal and group dynamics that can surprise the participants and derail their proceedings.
Your pre-meetings with key players can sometimes help to avoid an ambush. If a player has a chance to vent his frustrations with you, he may not feel compelled to do so in the meeting, where his outburst may sidetrack whatever you are trying to accomplish.
11. Organize Your Agenda
Try to organize a meeting agenda so that cooperation develops and is not threatened from the outset by a badly timed piece of business. Start with something on which everyone is likely to agree or has a chance to offer an opinion.
If consensus is reached, take the time to restate it as best you can so those attending have a chance to agree or disagree with your interpretation.
Ask for dissent.
By soliciting their opinions in the meeting, they may be more reluctant to air their reservations later outside the meeting.
12. Bargain for Mutual Gain
Don’t be tempted to think of winners and losers as if it were a zero-sum game. In bargaining, what matters is not just what you want and think is fair, but what the other player wants and thinks is fair.
At the outset try to find out whether you are both playing the same game.
If one of you is centered on economic gain and the other is more concerned with fairness, a stalemate is likely to arise.
13. Use Precipitating Events to Change the Status Quo
Be prepared to take advantage of “precipitating events” — an unfavorable audit, a bad press story, a proposed merger, a new CEO — to get attention paid to your change agenda.
Those who seek change do not so much plan its introduction as respond to events that permit it. Make a plausible connection between the changes you want and the abnormal conditions that destabilize the status quo.
14. Build an Invisible Coalition
In trying to change the status quo in your company, seek out those who stand to gain from the change you want to introduce.
Your job is not just to explain why the change makes sense in the business but also why the change makes sense for each of your potential allies. Construct the coalition in your mind, but don’t make it an identifiable group to others in your business.
Such visibility can be counterproductive, a kind of us against-them.
15. Exit With Care
When people get ready to make a move, they often forget that their exits count as much as their entrances.
“I’m outta here” is not the way to go. Since you rarely know what someone will say about you after you leave a company, there is a lot to gain by how you orchestrate your departure and the reasons you give for leaving.
Both may be important to your ex-colleagues who are asked about you at some later date.
Wanted to add any tip for getting ahead at the work, do in the comments!