January 24, 2014
“Work hard” we heard all our lives was the ticket to success and happiness, especially when it came to our careers. I used to live and die by this philosophy: work hard and it will pay off. How could my parents and teachers be wrong?
No doubt about it, working hard is honorable and a great way to live your life, but if you are using hard work as your sole strategy to be recognized by management and promoted in your career, you are going to be disappointed.
My biggest takeaway from an 11-year corporate career is this: just working hard is the worst career advice for getting ahead. What follows are 5 reasons why hard work alone can sabotage your attempts at advancing your career:
1. Working hard does not enhance your circle of influence. You don’t get ahead if no one knows you exist. Your circle of influence may start off small when you begin a new job or career but as time goes by, it must expand. This does not happen automatically. You need to think beyond your immediate circle and impact people and teams at your job by casting a larger net. Offer to fix a problem for someone. Share your knowledge over a cup of tea with a person in a different department. Be known for what you do well and who you are.
2. Working hard does not secure you the right relationships. When you are head down in your work, you are not building relationships, the foundation of professional success. You build relationships by making time for them. Identify the people who have influence and connect with them. Every week, get to know at least one new person in order to expand your professional network.
3. Working hard does not excuse your poor attitude. Another big mistake is to assume that hard work excuses a poor attitude, gives you permission to complain, or allows you to feel entitled. This attitude just cancels all of your hard work. Never compromise your attitude, it’s your greatest asset to build relationships and increase your circle of influence.
4. Working hard does not help you to understand the corporate system. You must understand the corporate system, the decision making process, and the risks a company faces. Ideally, you want to connect those dots back to your own work. This requires research, conversation with co-workers, and following the news. Don’t let your hard work make you seem disengaged from your company.
5. Working hard does not increase your ability to help others succeed. When you are solely focused on getting your own job done, you cannot help others succeed. Don’t forget that if you first help others succeed, it will come back to you tenfold. Helping a co-worker can be as simple as being resourceful or not seeming rushed when someone requests your assistance. Always be open to lending a hand.
The Ultimate Choice Is Between the Hard Worker and the Savvy Worker
Hard work is important and necessary, but if a promotion comes down to the hardest worker who is quiet, shy, and never speaks up and the average worker who has the relationships, the influence, and the reputation of being helpful, the decision always favors the latter. In the end, the helpful and connected worker will bring more value to the company.
Instead of growing bitter about this fact, use it to your advantage. It can favor you in the future, just implement the strategies discussed here on top of your hard work!
Farnoosh Brock writes, teaches and coaches employees on how to get recognized and promoted at work and get paid what they deserve. Find out more at about her free course.