Moving Up Within a Team

Unless you run your own business, you’ll generally be part of a team, and the team may itself be part of a larger organization. In situations like this, the ability to move up the ladder more quickly will be a major element in improving your career trajectory and your level of success.

Navigating upwards within any kind of team environment of course depends on your productivity and expertise. But it also depends on your ability to position yourself for desirable opportunities, challenges, and promotions.

Here are a few techniques to help you position yourself within a team environment for accelerated upward mobility:

Build Personal Relationships

Aside from all your qualifications, experience, and past successes, the plain fact is that personal relationships can be powerful accelerants to your career trajectory.

This doesn’t mean sucking up to people you don’t like, or putting on a phony act for your colleagues and supervisors.

However, to the extent you can honestly be personable, helpful, and interested in other people’s work and lives, you will move more – and more favorably – toward the forefront of  their thoughts when opportunities, challenges, and promotions arise.

As a practical matter, this means spending a few minutes on a regular basis, intentionally getting to know other people and interacting with them as friendly as you can. A small investment of time and effort along these lines will nearly always lead to opportunities to move up significantly faster.

Offer Your Help

People above, below, and at your level all face problems, difficulties, and obstacles. If you can make yourself a valuable resource to them, they will appreciate your presence and better recognize your qualifications.

Regularly offering your help to others will also provide opportunities for you to learn more about what’s going on around you. This will let you know more details about a wide range of situations and goals, which in turn will lead to extra opportunities for you to showcase your practical skills, strategic acumen, and leadership abilities.

Ask for Opportunities and Challenges

In any fair-minded team situation, a certain number of opportunities and challenges will come your way. But when you proactively ask for them, you generally increase this number and thereby accelerate your career trajectory. This approach benefits you several ways:

  • Asking will likely bring you more opportunities and challenges, each with the potential to showcase your skills, knowledge, experience, and talents.
  • Asking will mark you as a go-getter, someone who is highly motivated to perform and succeed.
  • Asking will offer evidence that you’re aware of what’s going on around you and smart enough to see the emerging opportunities.
  • Working on extra opportunities and challenges will deepen and sharpen your abilities, making you a better candidate for expanded responsibilities and authority.
  • Working on extra opportunities and challenges will bring you into contact with more people at higher levels within the team and the organization, making it easier for you to build relationships and demonstrate your worth to them.  

Solicit Feedback

In the ordinary course of everyday work, you’ll naturally receive a normal level of feedback from others on your team and in the organization. But when you solicit feedback on particular actions from particular people, you gain benefits from their experience and perspective that might not otherwise be available to you.

What ‘s more, the act of asking for feedback helps to build stronger relationships and marks you as someone interested in enhancing your skills and abilities.  

Soliciting feedback works even better when you take valid feedback to heart, incorporate it into your future efforts, and share what you’ve learned with those who originally gave you the feedback.

Cultivate a Mentor

Much has been written by others, as well as by me, about the benefits of having a mentor. Those benefits are usually expanded and increased within a team environment, because the mentor is likely to have more frequent opportunities to work with you, knows the team environment very well, and very often has the power to accelerate your advancement within it.

Fundamentally, these approaches will increase the time you spend interacting with key players in your team environment, and will also make your interactions with various team members more intentional, purposeful, and goal oriented.

The net result will be to position yourself within the team environment for faster career growth, expanded productivity, and higher levels of success.

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