Regardless of if you love or hate your job, it never hurts to start planning for the future. But getting ahead doesn’t have to rely on butt-kissing and overtime. By paying attention to the people around you, you can increase your opportunities at work – and your life in general.
Be nice to the little people
While you’re climbing the corporate ladder, it’s important to make connections with all the people you work with – not just with the people above you, but also those on the rungs below you. When you’re focused on getting ahead, it’s easy to neglect the “little people” – the mail room person, the parking attendants, the person who answers the phone. But in the end, the people who support you can be the most instrumental in your rise to the top. Because they interact with people from all areas of the company, they have access to the kind of information you’ll need to create opportunities for yourself. They also tend to have insight into the company as a whole since they see if from a different perspective than either you or your bosses. And it never hurts to befriend co-workers who are more removed from interoffice politics than you. That way, no matter how grand your ambitions become, you’ll always have friends to help you stay grounded.
Don’t be afraid to be big
Ambitious people tend to focus much of their time and energy on the “big wigs” – their bosses and bosses’ bosses. But they often get caught up in trying to flatter and impress, rather than interacting with them in a genuine, real way. While bosses like to be treated with respect, at the end of the day, they’re really looking for employees who will help them become more successful – which sometimes means helping them avoid mistakes. For the most part, bosses aren’t looking for people to agree with everything they say. What they really want is people they can lead in a meaningful way. As you cultivate relationships with your bosses, make it clear you’re on board to help them bring success to the group. And always remember that it’s sometimes lonely at the top. No matter how powerful your boss is, at the end of the day, they’re another human being who could use a friendly smile.
Remember you’re important
When you’re climbing the corporate ladder, it’s easy to trip yourself up with maneuvering your way through the minefield of interoffice politics. But no matter how important your job is, you’ll never find long-term success at work unless you view it as one part of a happy, healthy life. People who lead full, well-balanced lives are more productive, creative and successful than their peers who focus solely on their career objectives. So if you really want to get ahead at work, make sure you take care of your mind and body outside of work, too.
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