Unspoken rules for advancing your career

Could I interest you in a few choice secrets about getting ahead? The price is right- it doesn't include getting another degree or working overtime.

These "secrets" are things your boss wants you to know but probably hasn't told you. These are the unspoken rules.

Although these guidelines haven't been explained, you could be held back if you violate them. They are deeply imbedded in each manager's beliefs about the "right" attitudes and behavior needed to succeed.

Keep in mind, every boss has his or her own personal, silent expectations. Watch, listen and learn. Here are a few to get you started.

1.      No surprises. They make managers nervous. Your boss is expected to know what you're doing and why. If a storm appears on the horizon, give him or time to get an umbrella. You'll stay dry, too.

2.      Follow up and follow through. Never wait to be reminded. Try to beat assigned deadlines. Write memos or notes updating your boss on progress made on long projects. Dependability and initiative are admission tickets qualifying you for the promotion race.

3.      Be there. Arrive on time for meetings. Disregard anything you've read about late arrivals or early departures signaling importance. It's bunk and it's rude. Don't look for excuses to take a sick day. The only person you fool is yourself.

4.      Write things down. "Mental notes" make other people nervous. It implies that you don't care about what was said, who said it or your accountability for it. No one will be impressed with your retention powers because they'll know what's really between your ears.

5.      Don't complain. If you have a gripe, come up with a workable solution. Complainers are dead-enders.

6.      Make him or her look good. Provide your boss with ideas, knowledge, support and documentation. Do what it takes to make him or her shine. It'll reflect well on you.

7.      Learn your boss's language. "Get it done when you get a chance," may mean within two weeks- or two days. Pin him or down and get a translation.

8.      Solve your own problems. Be assertive about cleaning up your own messes. Unlike mom, your boss won't nag you- he or she will get rid of you.

9.      Never assume. Ask questions. Paraphrase. Clarify. Develop a reputation as a good questioner. You'll make everyone around you rise to the standards you've set for clear communication.

10. Get along. Bend over backward to treat people fairly. Stick pins in their effigies at night, if you must, but remain professional and cooperative all day.

11. Think beyond your nose. Consider the big picture before taking action and you'll stay a part of it.

12. Choose your battles carefully. To decide if something is worth fighting for, ask yourself: "Is it important enough that I should risk pushing it? Is it worth making an enemy?" If not, don't bother rattling your sword.

13. Develop timing. Study your own children. They seem to know the best time to ask for something as well as the best time to avoid you. In other words, wait until your boss is receptive before approaching him or her.

14. Accept mistakes as inevitable. Never blame others or beat yourself up. Mistakes are routine and human. A promotable person recovers quickly, analyzes the causes and never makes the same mistake twice.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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