Did no one tell you these in any training program?
Well, of course, I am kidding! There’re no programs or courses which prepare you for the corporate career success. Yes, there are some which help you prepare for interviews and eventually get selected–But what after that? How do you keep the job? What do you do to keep growing? There isn’t a formal program that helps you build the right mindset to have breakthroughs in your career.
Imagine this–you sign up for an instant weight loss program to lose weight and you do. You take pride in showing off the new you. But studies show that 90% or more of the people end up regaining the weight almost immediately after they stop the program. You feel bad about the weight you regained and ultimately give up. You accept that probably you can never lose weight as you are born that way. Or maybe find some other excuse!
Have you been able to spot similarities between the instant weight loss program and the “so-called” career courses you might have taken up in the past? Then read on–I will be revealing 9 corporate career dark secrets you need to come to terms with to grow faster and have the breakthroughs you have been looking for!
Warning: I may sound harsh or negative here, at times even ruthless! My intent is to make you come to terms with the dark truths. Reality bites!
Career Dark Secret #1: Degrees, certifications, or professional qualifications DON’T always result in promotion, salary hike, or even credibility.
The biggest myth that you have been made to believe in–If you have the skills, you will grow in your career.
So you keep spending a lot of your time, money, and energy in acquiring new skills in the form of degrees, certifications, or professional qualifications hoping that once you have them–you will be suddenly rewarded by your company.
You have been conditioned to think that way.
Complete your studies first and then go out to play–you heard this as a child.
Get a degree and then do whatever you wish to–you heard this as an adolescent.
Everyone has a degree, get professional certification to stand out of the crowd and you will get a job, a promotion, and salary hike–you heard this while you were graduating after you had a job and almost about every time.
During my 12-year corporate career as an HR professional, I have had many people come and ask me – I got myself an executive-MBA degree/so-and-so professional certification; why then have I not got a fair appraisal this year? And I had a tough time explaining that mere qualification/certification will not get you rewarded.
Does that mean you shouldn’t get them?
Of course, you should. But by being mindful.
Before you pursue anything, ask yourself why do you want to? It is because everyone around is doing it and boasting about the success they have had? Or is it really for your own betterment? Does it help you do your current job better and advance? How much?
Don’t take anyone’s word on this one. Concentrate on what really, really, REALLY matters to YOU.
Career Dark Secret #2: Your work will NEVER speak for itself!
If wishes were horses, even beggars would ride!
Likewise, if work could speak, even workers on the streets would be millionaires!
I have put in the hard work. My manager should recognize the hard work and give me a raise accordingly–yet another classic statement I have heard from a vast majority before their appraisals throughout my corporate career. And more often than not, I have seen all these people with sad long faces after the appraisal.
I want you to recall the last time they promoted you. Did your work do all the talking and your manager agreed to promote you based on that? Or was it because you spoke up, presented the work you have done as if it really matters, and asked for a promotion/raise?
If you have never been promoted so far (or even otherwise), I want you to ask others about their promotion. Did their work do all the talking to get them promoted?
Working hard and expecting the manager to reward you without asking for it is like expecting a fairy to appear out of nowhere and turn you into a princess so you can attend the party in the royal palace. Fairy tales are not reality!
It is best to ‘create the miracles’ rather than expecting someone to do them for you. Begin with identifying the tasks that will get you maximum visibility. Channelize your energy there, not everywhere. And ask for what you are worth.
Career Dark Secret #3: Leaders decide in favor of larger business interests, NOT yours.
No organization endures so you can have a job. They do solve a client’s problem and get remunerated in return.
Leaders thus must decide in favor of clients and thus guard larger business interests.
Exceptional Leaders are those who align the team and it’s work to the organization’s vision and mission. So you will see them taking a large majority of the decisions in favor of the organization and not yours!
I don’t see any growth here / My voice is not heard–are other classic statements I have heard an umpteen number of times during my corporate career. Every time someone made that statement, all I had was a grin on my face.
There is one way, however, by which you can oblige your boss to take decisions in your favor–align your interest to that of the organization. If you cannot–find an organization to which they can be aligned!
Career Dark Secret #4: The Human Resources (HR) exists to protect the business interest, NOT yours!
You heard me!
And this is coming from the person who spent 12 years working as an HR professional.
Try to recall the last time your manager did not decide in your favor. What did you do? Most ideally, people approach someone from the HR department. You did it too, didn’t you? What was the outcome? Someone heard you, empathized with you, and finally convinced you to abide by your boss’ decision!
The closest analogy to the above scenario is–As a child, your dad scolded you for something. It hurt you. Crying to run to your mom who felt sorry, said some nice things to pep you up, and ultimately convinced you that whatever your dad did was for your own benefit in the long run!
So no matter what you have to say, HR will protect the larger business interest.
Now it’s a no brainer–the only way to get HR on your side is to align your interest to that of the organization and allow your boss to vouch for you before HR does!
Career Dark Secret #5: You NEED NOT do everything your boss asks you to, to get ahead.
I have seen people do everything their bosses ask them to.
I mean absolutely every single thing. The result–a very busy 9 to God-knows-when-it-will-end schedule, high levels of stress, no social or family life and eventually being passed over for promotions/ other rewards. Is this what you really wanted out of your career?
But it still happened!
You loved being busy, so they kept you busy. You asked for it, so you got it. And as revealed in secret # 2, you kept mum to let your work do all the talking!
What gets you ahead is not the time you put in at work but the most effective projects and activities. So don’t be tempted to do everything!
The secret to getting ahead lies in the Pareto principle. Focus on the 20% of the activities that have 80% of the impact. Every time they assign a task to you, get into the discipline of asking yourself–Is this part of the 20% that will have 80% impact?
Career Dark Secret #6: Holding your manager/organization responsible for your career is like giving the TV remote in your spouse’s hands and expecting your favorite channel will be played!
When you do things that benefit the organization, your benefits will automatically be taken care of. Oh yes, that holds so true!
But then again, your manager/organization will take care of you in the manner that seems right to them.
Largely, I have seen people working well and let the managers “manage” their career and I thought how criminal that really was. They grew in their careers, but does growing mean being a product of others’ decisions? I opine it is like giving the TV remote in your spouse’s hands and expecting your favorite channel will be played.
It is imperative that you decide where you want to go. What heights do you want to reach? How? And when?
You can retire with a speech–I wish I had more time to… OR I am proud to retire early having achieved what I wanted. Make a choice!
Career Dark Secret #7: Results you produce DON’T matter, their impact does.
Results aren’t the same thing as the impact.
Result: This program creates better leaders.
Impact: This program saves 100% of leadership recruiting costs and improves organization productivity by 15% thus leading to about a 8% increase in the revenues.
Do you see the difference?
Impact means you had something to do with the company’s top line or bottom line or maybe both in one measurable form or another.
So turning yourself into an impact machine ask yourself: What impact does your work have on–you, your team, your organization, and your clients? Are some random results or is it a specific measurable outcome? It is desirable? What can you do to maximize the impact?
Then do the right thing and focus on impact instead.
Career Dark Secret #8: NO ONE cares if you grow or not, stay or leave.
There are large chances you might develop a feeling that you are the most critical resource in the organization. That is because you might do a big deal of work. You are made to believe that you matter. The work that you do is central to the organization’s success!
You feel important – to the point where you start believing that you can get everything you ask for!
But when reality dawns you are up for some serious surprises. Stop doing that important and you will be replaced in the blink of an eye. In no time the you-can-have-everything cloud will burst! If you don’t believe – go ahead, give it a shot!
So is it really worth sacrificing on your family time and your health?
Surely it is a great feeling to be an important person, it makes no sense to kill yourself for an organization.
Career Dark Secret #9: No matter what you do, you CAN’T get ahead without being mentored.
You actually can, but way too slowly.
You will take time to figure something out, try it out, test it, fail, accept failures, correct them, make new strategy and then repeat the whole cycle multiple times to come to uncover what works for you. And by the time you have, circumstances change and you will have to go through the entire process yet again to device a new strategy.
Is it really worth the effort?
Will it not be meaningful to get a promotion twice as fast, get paid twofold of what you are really worth, by doing what you love to do? And wouldn’t 10% of the amount you make be a worthwhile investment to get these incredible results for your own self?
But it scares you.
In the past, you asked for advice and it did not work. That was because they told you what is good. No one focused on what would be good for you… your growth!
It is imperative you find a mentor who focuses on a personalized strategy for you!
Next steps –
Trust you have been able to come to terms with these dark secrets. There is a large possibility that some of these dark secrets would have been already unfolded themselves for you in the past, the hard way! But as you navigate the corporate landscape, I hope to help you avoid your corporate career mistake. Or recover from them fast.
If you want to go further and achieve grand breakthroughs in your career check out my website www.designyourcareer.co to schedule a personal strategy call with me where I show you how to best position yourself for massive career success.