There are many stages of a person’s career throughout their lifetime. Some employees work their way up the ladder to become executives, some are hired on at high positions, and some are content just where they are. Middle management positions can be a fulfilling step on the way to a more successful career or they can be where you live out your days at a company. Acknowledging the difference between comfort and complacency is an important element in your upward mobility in any company. If you feel you’ve hit a middle management career plateau, focus on these 5 tips to gain an “executive” or a higher management title.
Make Yourself Stand Out
The easiest way to stand out in your current position at work is to be present and be reliable. If you are someone who is consistently at work and on time, you will be more visible to your company executives. Dressing and speaking like your executive counterparts is a professional but subtle way to stand out amongst your co workers. Pay attention to the outfits your superior management wears and mimic them for yourself.
Aside from being physically present, focus on being the most productive employee in the room. Make it your goal to exceed your company’s expectations of you by going above and beyond the tasks you are assigned. Find a way to show your superior the quantifiable results of your accomplishments. Volunteer to oversee projects and task forces to show you’re ready for more responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to bring your knowledge of areas that you see being neglected to your superiors and ask to be in charge of filling the gaps. This gives you the opportunity to work with other departments and co workers and gives them the chance to experience (and vouch for) your management skills.
Be bold! Don’t wait for your annual review to discuss promotion opportunities with your boss. Take initiative to show you are interested in a future opportunity. Ask specific questions about what would be required of you to move up in your company, and begin to apply the critiques to your work life.
”Carpe diem” as they say. Instead of focusing on seizing the day, pay attention to changes that are going on around you and seize the moment. Just because an upper management position is not available right now, doesn't mean it isn’t about to be. Keeping your ears and eyes open to potential job shifts can help you stay ahead of the hiring process. Listening is a very important management skill to master so start using it right now!
In the meantime, focus your attention on things that concern upper management executives. Pay attention to the goals and roadblocks that your superiors are often facing and offer them a possible solution. Solving your bosses problem or inspiring a solution can help put you ahead in the workplace.
To be more aware of your own role, focus on things within your control, like being more cost-effective and increasing your productivity. Ask for feedback. Besides giving you a chance to improve your role, feedback lets your company and your management know that you are serious about being an effective employee for them, long-term.
Improve Your Qualifications
Find out what is required to be in an executive position at your company and cater your skills to these expectations. Your job in higher management will be more focused on creating and adhering to strategies and growing the success of the company, so getting into the habit of continually improving yourself will help you now and in the future!
Working toward a masters degree can help you gain a higher skill set necessary for higher management and executive positions. It also puts you on the radar of the powers-that-be when higher positions become available in your company; when your superiors can see that you are invested in yourself, they are going to keep you in mind for promotions.
Going back to college for the average working adult has not always been readily available, but thanks to technology, obtaining a degree has become far more convenient. Even if your company doesn’t have any executive positions available in the future, a higher education can always help you find your way in another company.
To improve your general management abilities aim to continuously seek out challenges and projects that broaden your range of skills. Focus on building your knowledge of personal industry news and events. Being able to communicate technical jargon about your company and their position in the industry with higher management can expand your value to a company.
Team up with a Mentor
As with most things in life, it’s not necessarily what you know, but who you know that counts. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your abilities is essential to moving up in our modern workforce.
Mentors can be anyone: upper management employees, executives, even fellow coworkers. Some companies have formal mentoring programs that offer entry-level mentoring, training mentoring, and excelled mentoring. An upper management mentor can help you gain a better understanding of what is expected of a corporate employee. Aligning yourself with the employees in your company that are successful and have a good repertoire can be good for your own reputation.
The point of a mentor is to offer you situations where the opportunity to display your skills is available for them to oversee and vouch for. Working with a mentor allows for you to hone your sites on the direction you would like to move, and helps answer questions on how to get there.
Think About Changing Careers
If you’re in a position of complacency with no real opportunities for a promotion, then leave! It is said that switching companies every two years can increase your earnings and opportunities by 50 percent.
At the end of the day your job is meant to support you, and if it is no longer supporting you financially and emotionally then it’s okay to cut ties. Some companies have strong upper management positions comfortably filled with no power shifts in sight. If the positions above you are coming available within the time frame you’d like to then you are not obligated to stay at the company you are at.
There is nothing worse than feeling as though your career has plateaued. Focusing on the aspects of your company that you can add value to gives you an advantage when an executive position becomes available. Showing off your skills in a professional way is the best way to let upper management know you are ready to advance in your career.