HR AGENT BLOG
Thoughts and strategies related to HR Consulting, HR Outsourcing, HR Compliance, HR Oversight, HR Administration, HR Daily Tasks, Talent Acquisition, and Talent Retention...
I hear from Administrative Professionals, Office Managers, Legal Assistants and HR Coordinators, all seeking advice on how to grow their careers. Getting recognized and promoted when you are in a support capacity can be difficult, but it is NOT impossible.
There was a point in my career when I was an Administrative Professional. I'm very proud to have had that career experience. Why? Because, I now know first hand how to turn humble beginnings into an explosive career! Here are a few tips to help you grow your own career, even from the bottom of the organization...
Attack Your Role, Vigorously. Attack Your Role, Vigorously. Marry it. Love it. Elevate every aspect of your job description, but never forget to lend a helping hand to your teammates. One of the biggest pitfalls I see Administrative Professionals fall into is that they become frustrated with minor mishaps and over time they disconnect from their role and divorce themselves from their administrative team. Doing so prevents the opportunity to become a team leader. Embrace the challenges that are part of your everyday work life! Even if there is no role in your company labeled "Administrative Team Leader", you can occupy this space. Job titles and their descriptions are constantly evolving. HR departments redefine roles within their company all the time. Be sure you are at the front of this evolution!
Be Fluid. There is no such thing as "not in your job description". It is only natural that an Administrative Professional, Office Manager or Legal Assistant might feel insecure about his/her standing in a company if they are asked to execute a task beneath their station (i.e., sit at the front desk for an afternoon while the Receptionist is out). It could feel like you are being pushed backward and that is hard to accept when you've worked so hard to accomplish your current standing. I get it. But keep in mind, being the person that everyone can rely on is the goal. Outwardly expressing frustration or begrudgingly executing the task while mentioning to others 'how unfair things are' is a sure fire way to pigeon-hold yourself in a narrow career path and limit your opportunity for growth. Remember, you never want your manager to feel that he/she is paying an 'emotional cost' when asking you to execute a legitimate task. It is your responsibility to do what is necessary to further the company's goals, even if it requires duties that are inconvenient or otherwise unpleasant. Keep in mind, your objective is to show that you have leadership qualities. So, stay focused and strut your stuff!
Be Open Minded, At Every Turn. Always consider ways to add more value to your company. If you are a Receptionist, you might consider ways to better serve those coming in the front door. Remember, YOU are the internal face of the organization! Guests count on YOU every day. So, give them a reason to remember you! This may seem like a small thing, but it is far from small. I've known Receptionists who have grown their roles into lucrative careers as Accounting Clerks, HR Generalists and even (with the right education, training and perserverance) Vice Presidents! What did they all have in common? They were all open minded, eager and ready to accept the challenges around them. They all took full advantage of every opportunity; even the tiny, seemingly insignificant ones.
Smile And Share Your Infectious Energy. Energy is infectious, be it positive or negative. Coworkers will associate how they feel AROUND you with how they feel ABOUT you - and the two will become inseparably linked. As an HR Consultant, if I've heard nothing from HR professionals, I've heard of their troubles in dealing with negative employees. Often times, when we work with these HR teams, we discover that their firm has grown quickly and sometimes several existing staff members are resistant to that change. It is unfortunate when this happens, but we understand both sides of this coin all too well. We know what it ifeels like to be a part of an organization, having put your own blood, sweat and tears into the company's foundation - only to see it change (sometimes drastically). The truth is, companies are a growing and ever changing entity with new members being added all the time. That's part of the lifecycle of a company. As these changes take place, it is important for existing members to help shape the culture, rather than resist it. It is not easy, but helping to drive the change could give you more opportunity than you may realize. Remember, through change comes opportunity!
Be Honest With Your Manager And HR Department. If you feel you have strong and positive ideas to share, make a bee-line to your manager and/or HR department and share them. The result might surprise you. Having been an HR Director at a global firm, I found it exciting when employees would share volunteer opportunities or enhancement ideas with me. The result, small sustainable changes and organic group activities which helped foster team spirit! Additionally, an employee's honest feedback could lead to new career paths and may even empower others to do the same. So, don't be afraid to share your ideas!
Be Accountable. It is important to be accountable for the good and the 'not so good' that you do. Just as you shouldn't be afraid to take credit for the outstanding value-add things you've done, you should be equally willing to own the mistakes. Mistakes, though mildly embarrassing, can often lead to unexpected success. Some of the things that you enjoy on a daily basis were mistakes turned success - i.e., the chocolate cookie, the ice cream cone, potato chips and even the post-it note...all happy mistakes!
Anticipate And Embrace Change. Change is inevitable; a long standing cliche'...right? Though you may tire of hearing it, it is very true. Many of us remember a time when Instant Messaging was a new phenomenon. Instant Messaging evolved into texting and blogging turned into social media outlets like facebooking and tweeting. No matter how one resists these changes, they are going to happen. The same is true for the small, but consistent changes that are occurring within your company. Like social media changes, corporate changes can lead to better and more efficient outcomes. Let's take performance reviews for example. They were once done on paper and physically signed by the employee and manager, then submitted to the HR department and stored away in a file. Now, many companies use an electronic review process. This change saves time and makes retrieval and multi-manager review simple and trackable; ensuring that all relevant parties are aware of what is being said about a single employee or employee group, including the employee him/herself! Thus, making it easier for companies to comply with state and federal employment laws.
Enjoy The Ride To Success! You are now on the path to growing your career. While the changes may not be sweeping, they are happening. Don't worry that someone else was recognized before you for an accomplishment. Just be ready when the pendulum swings your way. With consistent hard work and the right attitude, it is a virtual certainty that change and success will show up at your doorstep. You need only be ready to embrace it!
Remember, change is hard for everyone. No one gets around it. But, you can do this! Just engage your job, attack each task (one at a time) and don't take your foot off the gas. Next thing you know, you'll be moving up the corporate ladder and enjoying more success than you might have thought possible. Now, get to it!