|This is what everyone sees when you’re on the job right out of college|
One of the big jokes on the project I currently work is that all the analysts that join the firm think they’re coming in to do strategy work, and who can blame them? Strategy practitioners are lifesavers who change the fate of fortune 500 businesses one PowerPoint deck at a time. They get to play by their own rules…
Yes, you’re supposed to dress to the client’s dress code so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb…unless you’re a strategy person, in which case you are never to be seen in public without a blazer on. What they fail to realize, though, is no seasoned executive wants a 22 year old whose breath still smells like Similac. Nobody wants a person working for them that lacks drive and twiddles their thumbs all day either, so what do you do?
Channel Your Workplace Ambition Into Eagerness to Learn and Ask Questions
When you first start a job you should be asking tons of questions good questions. By that I mean do your best not to ask questions that can easily be found on Google or the company website. A good question helps clarify the expectations for you at your position AND someone at the next level. Good questions resolve any ambiguity you might have about a comment that was made so that you don’t have to make any assumptions about the intent later.
When You Ask Questions, Listen to The Answers and Take Notes
I hate to be asked the same question more than once when you could’ve referred to your notes if you were taking any, so take notes. Additionally, the information you get from asking questions up front will give you exactly what you need to set (aggressive) performance objectives to get where you want to go.
Observe How the People Around You Conduct Business
One of the critical things to do when you arrive in a new position is to observe the behaviors of those around you. It gives you a feel for the culture of the organization and who the key players are without having to blatantly ask who’s running the show there. Identifying the influencers and potential mentors early can drastically improve your career trajectory. Even in the most merit-based jobs, politics play a key role in upward mobility.
Wait (Patiently) For Your Opportunity
Or at least appear to do so. Playing your hand too early can cause people to dislike you because you come off as brash or pushy. Or worse, they may see you as a threat and take defensive measures to ensure to keep that threat at bay, which may manifests itself in keeping you from pursuing other opportunities or citing minor incidents as justification for you getting a lower performance rating than expected.
Anticipate the needs of your supervisor and team members and proactively deliver solutions that address those needs. Consistently. Operating at a high level sometimes or even most of the time is not good enough. High ambition requires you hold yourself to the highest of standards to bring your A-game every single day.
Everyone wants to sit at the top of the mountain. The trick is to show you have a well thought out plan to make the climb. Anything less than that would be foolish.
How have you handled a young gun with lofty (but unrealistic) expectations and/or what coaching did people give you when you were in that position?