– Rukmini Iyer, Director, Exult! Solutions
(Published at Rediff.com)
What is the key to success?
That is the question on every young, ambitious executive’s mind these days. The bare essentials such as hard work, discipline, time and stress management and good work still hold good. But here are a few tips that could add to your persona and make your career soar.
A parallel career
If you were not in your present career, where would you have been? Would the doctor have been a singer? The software developer a magician? A lot of us are fond of certain things that could have been the core of our activities had our present career not been so demanding of our time.
Well, you own your life. So, resolve to pursue that activity whole-heartedly. Give it at least four hours a week. Doing what you really enjoy not only makes you happy, it also improves your productivity at the workplace. As you know you cannot have time for your exciting pursuit unless you finish work on time, you naturally become more disciplined and punctual.
You can probably indulge in these activities on a freelance basis, if your terms of employment allow it, adding a neat sum to your income. How about teaching the neighbour’s child how to play guitar for a few hours a week, or writing an article for a magazine once a month? Opportunities abound; you just have to identify what you love doing and go after it.
Enhance work relationships and environment
While the focus of your career is definitely performance oriented, one cannot work in isolation. Work relationships are an important aspect influencing professional growth.
Ajay Gupta, a senior IT professional with Oracle in Bangalore, says, “While I have initiated my growth through relevant certifications and upgradation, I must say my managers and work environment have contributed a lot to my success.”
The statement rings true almost universally. So make sure that one of the things you do this year is to improve your relationships at work. Remember, the relationships have to symbiotic, not parasitic. A healthy give and take of ideas and opinions is essential. Also, share the credit for your success with your teammates and superiors. While the effort may have been largely yours, the influences come from a lot of external forces.
Not all of us may be blessed with conducive work environments. However, resolve not to make that an excuse to sulk. Instead, take the initiative to change things. Do you think the processes are not in place and ad hoc decisions are hampering your performance? Why wait for the boss to mend things? Do it yourself. Assert your ideas to make the workplace fun to be in. Brainstorm with your colleagues and present a compilation of ideas to your boss. You are sure to be noticed for your enterprise and leadership skills.
Be observant and open to learning
Learning and growth result not only because of big breakthroughs, but also due to the cumulative effect of little lessons we learn every day. Be a pro-active and conscious learner.
While landing a plum assignment or bagging an offer from an industry leader does provide an impetus to your career, what really goes into these achievements is what you learn everyday on the job. Says Savitha Kasha, a lawyer practising in Mumbai [ Images ], “The high-profile cases come in only once in a while. What helps me succeed in those is my experience from the so-called mundane activities. Observing the way your opponent argues, the way judges put across queries in a routine case, the way seniors approach an issue — all of these have contributed to learning.”
Do not wait for those D-days to learn and grow. It is your entire personality, rather than your technical skills, that matter at higher levels in an organisation, preserve and implement these precious lessons.
It’s the name of the game now. And it’s easy. While good performance and hard work definitely count, networking goes a long way in presenting you with opportunities to enhance your career growth.
For instance, there are a lot of business networking groups online. You can google your way into an e-group that has members in your area of work, and participate in discussions. Also, professional clubs and associations that charge only a nominal membership fee are good places to gather contacts and learn more about the industry.
These contacts come in handy when you look for new jobs or new clients in your current job. They can also be of great help in supplying industry-specific information that helps you improve your presentations and knowledge about your profession. There is a lot of information out there that is already compiled and ready to use. Avoid re-inventing the wheel and putting in long hours of research when you can ask for help. Of course, the aim is not to be lazy and get others to do your work, but it does save a lot of productive time.
Be a life-long student
A lot of us may be glad about finishing with school and college, safe that we don’t have to mug up for those exams anymore. Do not discount the power of education. An additional academic qualification always helps when it comes to choosing people for vertical growth or important assignments.
You need not take a break from your career to acquire another degree or diploma. There are a lot of distance learning programmes available at universities and professional bodies, which add value to your resume. Sign up for a programme relevant to your field of work. A master’s degree definitely adds spark to your resume, even if it is from an open university.
Continued interest in academia reflects to your employers that you are eager to learn more while doing well on the job. It presents a positive image that is sure to better your prospects.
You will always grow in your career, so long as you pursue it passionately. What goes a long way in determining a sustained zeal to grow is whether you enjoy your work or not. As Henry Ford says, “Work does more than get us a living; it gets us our life.”