By, Frank Danzo – Senior Partner
Stop working harder!
Want your career to take off? Vying for a promotion? Struggling to get your work noticed? Here’s my advice: stop working so hard! Seems like a contradiction right? Hear me out!
Working in Human Resources for the past 20 years, I was in a position to learn from the best and the worst executives in the business world. I saw careers soar and careers plummet. With every person that succeeded there was at least one that didn’t. But what determined who failed and who succeeded? Being a woman in the business world and wanting to be successful, I decided to track those behaviors that ultimately moved someone’s career in a positive or negative direction. It wasn’t too long before I noticed trends among successful women – what they did to get ahead as well as what they intentionally didn’t do.
Something I noticed was that all of the successful women weren’t necessarily working harder. At some point, we’ve all been taught that if we work hard and do a good job, we’ll be rewarded. That’s how our parents and grandparents did it and that’s what they taught us to do. You got rewarded for getting good grades because you studied all the time, you got on the soccer team because you practiced for hours every night, you got a raise in your allowance because you did all your chores! The harder you worked the bigger the reward! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in the professional world. In corporate America, you rarely get noticed for hard work alone.
Yes, there’s a place for hard work, drive, and commitment to excellence, but it’s the relationships you build and maintain that positively impacts your success rather than working 12-hour days for the rest of your life.
Too often, women fall into the trap of putting in long hours at work trying to get everything done and done right. We skip lunch, we work late and NEVER leave early to meet co-workers for happy hour. We do all this to show the world that we are hardworking and reliable. We get the job done no matter what! But in doing this, we sometimes miss out on opportunities to connect with people.
Hanging out with colleagues just isn’t a welcome break from the daily demands of the job, it’s a crucial career move. The more people who know and love you, the better your chances of being approached for new opportunities and better assignments – which all leads to more money! Building positive relationships often provides increased resources to help you get your job done.
Translation: People want to help you because they know and like you!
Work today is like being on a professional sports team. In business, just like being a player on the Cardinals (or, in my case, the Royals!), you need to have people championing your cause. You need coaches, trainers, marketers, and talented teammates to help you perform at your best to ultimately bring home the trophy!
Don’t misunderstand me, you don’t have to be the office social butterfly, but by devoting a portion of your week towards relationship building, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day, the payoff will be huge! For example, you could pop into someone’s office for a quick chat, grab lunch with a coworker, or ask a colleague out for a quick cup of coffee.
These little interactions help build the foundation of good relationships, especially if they are face-to-face. Be sure to build relationships not only with your team, but with other departments too. When social events occur, go! Many times key career-boosting connections are made at these types of events, so you don’t want to miss them.
We also need good working relationships with others in our professional circle. Customers, suppliers, and vendors are all essential to our success. So, it’s important to build and maintain good relations with these groups as well.
- Building and maintaining good working relationships will not only make you more engaged and committed to your organization, it can also open doors to key projects, career advancement, and pay raises.
- Identify stakeholders in your organization that you would like to connect with. This does not mean only knocking on the executive’s doors! Key stakeholders include your boss, coworkers, other department staff, customers, vendors and suppliers.
- Devote a portion of your day to laying the foundation of good relationships with these key stakeholders. Even minutes a day, if it’s genuine, can help to build a bond between you and a colleague.
- Don’t be the office gossip or social butterfly. Be honest and sincere, avoid gossip, and make sure to compliment people on a job well done. After all, the more you give in your relationships, the more you’ll get back from those around you!
Focus more on building relationships rather than putting in more hours at work will have a big impact on your job and future. The benefits from this practice will compound over time. So start today and embrace the strong woman that you are and start working LESS!