In season 6 of C-CRETS, the theme is “Staying on Code.”
Staying on code means doing your part to uplift your demographic. There are many BIPOC employees that champion this message. But in order to advance your group, you must first advance yourself as an individual. In other words, having the ability to pull others up requires that you are able to make strides yourself, to then help others along the way.
If you want to help your group, or feel that those in leadership positions should do more, you as an individual can also play a more active role in taking the necessary steps to climb the corporate ladder. Here’s how.
1.Prioritize better communication
In the workplace, in order for you to have greater access to those in positions of authority, as well as have more opportunities come your way, you need to be a good communicator and have some skin in the game.
Communicating well and being willing to talk to others, regardless of their position, and doing excellent work, will get you noticed.
A key part of communication is conveying confidence. Your delivery when speaking, as well as your nonverbal behavior will either aid your mission to advance your career, or hurt it.
Confident mannerisms transfer to others, as people tend to be as confident in you as you are in yourself. Things like eye contact and open body language not only shows self-assurance, but when you exude confidence, those around you subconsciously will view you as more competent.
In episode 102, Doing the Right Thang- A Conversation with Yolanda Jackson,
she spoke about witnessing black employees not speaking up during meetings, and encouraging them to do so. Jackson mentions how many great ideas are lost because BIPOC employees do not feel comfortable speaking up.
It only hinders a group when those within it want to be empowered, but do not speak up. And in order to change this dichotomy, more BIPOC employees need to be willing to share their opinions more often. As an individual, your willingness to share your ideas conveys confidence. Knowing helpful information and staying quiet, or being unwilling to share your opinions or give feedback, can actually harm your career’s progression.
2. Take advantage of proximity
We’ve shared many times how important it is for an employee to network within the workplace, and at company events outside of work, including the dinner parties and on the golf course.
Familiarity tends to increase likeability. Taking the time to attend a few events outside of work, allows others to recognize the similarities that you may have with them, outside of the context of work duties. Human emotions always play a factor in decision-making. Likeability can be an edge you have over someone else with the same level of competency.
Think of it this way–your foot in the door allows you to open it wider for someone else to get in. Take advantage of your proximity as networking sparks opportunities for advancement. Anything learned along the way can be shared with other BIPOC employees.
Our proximity to other C-suite executives is what has enabled us to create C-CRETS, which allows us share some of our experiences with you.
It’s important to note that when given new opportunities, you will be judged on the work done. While networking and having ‘people skills’ are an important part of the equation, doing excellent work is a bigger factor in compounding your access to opportunities.
Finally, it’s important that while in proximity to those ahead of you career-wise, that you take the following step.
3. Ask better questions
There is a learning opportunity at every job. As you’re climbing the corporate ladder, there will be people you meet along the way that you can learn from, if you simply ask better questions.
However, having access to those ahead of you does not mean you ask questions focused on yourself only.
Instead, ask questions to better understand the leader’s thought process about certain actions that led to their success. This will give you insight into the mindset needed to accomplish certain milestones within the organization. It can also lead to clarity beyond your current situation.
Questions outside of the norm will also be a signal to the person you’re speaking with that you can be a possible mentee. They may even become interested in becoming your sponsor.
In episode 41, we talked about becoming sponsor ready. Your thoughtful questions will put more of a spotlight on you in a leader’s mind. People want to pass on their knowledge, but they are more prone to invest their time into someone who show interest and take action.
Do these three things well–prioritize better communication, take advantage of proximity, and ask better questions–and you will be well ahead of the pack. Just remember as you collect more wins under your belt to help someone else along the way.