This is the second in a series of blog posts looking at "unwritten rules."
Catalyst interviewed 65 women and men from a variety of industries, locations and roles and asked them to provide examples of “unwritten rules”, defined as workplace norms and behaviours that are not communicated in an explicit or formalized way, but that clearly play a role in developing career and advancement opportunities.
Catalyst then broke down the rules into two categories: Behaviours and Actions and Individual Skills and Characteristics.
Under Behaviours and Actions respondents identified:
• Network and build relationships within and outside the organization (71%)
• Find ways to be visible (51%)
• Play politics and lobby for yourself and your work (45%)
• Communicate effectively and ask for lots of feedback (43%)
• Perform well, produce results (35%)
• Find a mentor, coach or sponsor (32%)
• Work long hours (29%)
• Develop a good career plan (20%).
Under Individual Skills and Characteristics respondents identified:
• Articulate, good communicator, influential (52%)
• Agentic (42%)
• A team player, works well with others (37%)
• “Fits in” with the organizational culture (32%)
• Knowledgeable, competent (32%)
• Energetic, works a lot (31%)
• Strategic, savvy (26%)
• Communal (22%).
Catalyst goes on to suggest you do the following to help your own advancement:
1. Build Relationships and Become Visible - build networks, join affinity groups and find mentors who can share the knowledge about what it takes to advance and gain access to opportunities. Simply belonging to a network may give you the visibility and recognition needed to be seen as a leader.
2. Communicate Effectively and Promote Yourself - work on your ability to give and receive feedback. Observe how other employees communicate and make sure you proactively ask the right questions.
3. Do Your Homework - figure out your career path - it is important to define your goals early on, plan each step and learn the right skills.
4. Who is the “ideal” worker? - the ideal worker norms as provided by the respondents in the survey are outlined under individual skills and characteristics. The ideal worker was described as articulate, a good communicator and “socially” and “emotionally” intelligent. The paper suggests that these traits help build connections and make it possible to self-promote without appearing arrogant. This ideal employee is proactive but not pushy.
Have you joined networks and groups inside or outside your company? Do you provide feedback and are you gracious about receiving feedback when offered? Do you have a mentor? Have you set your career goals and shared them with a mentor or supervisor? Have a look at the qualities of the ideal worker under the list of individual skills and characteristics. Would these be the worker norms expected in your company for advancement?
Ask yourself how doing these things might help you advance in your career, when get to work and cross them off your list.
Next week - Discovering Unwritten Rules.