As long as I have been a manager I have been asked by employees how to move up in their careers or get glowing performance reviews. In my experience I have seen a few key themes that relate to the success of an individual. I believe these are the four main categories:
- The work you do
- The impact and visibility of the work you do
- The culture of the company and management
A lot of people think that if they just do good work then they will be successful but that only really focused on one of the four factors (#1 above). Someone could do a good job at an activity which doesn’t get a lot of visibility or have much impact on the organization (#2) and therefore may get an average review or passed on for promotion. For example, there could be a resource on the team who manages a small piece of code configuration and have a peer who is managing several million dollars worth of delivery.
The other pieces to consider are around opportunity and timing (#3). Being in a larger program or organization provides more opportunities to move around as people leave or the program changes course.
Lastly, you also cant overlook the culture of a company or what management is looking for (#4) – some places value delivery and others may value the ‘spin’ or being political savvy. It is also important to have management that will champion you during the performance discussions.
So while it is important to go a good job at what you do, everyone needs to recognize that that is only a small portion of the formula and should continue look for areas that provide opportunities, work on high impact activities and understand what the companies value.