Last Updated Mar 17, 2011 7:06 PM EDT
In 4 Steps to Surviving a New Job, step two was "Plan how to make an impact." The reason for that is simple. In a new job, at some point you need to produce results or people will wonder why they hired you in the first place. Once you do that, everyone will be off your back for a while. Not forever, mind you, but for a time.
Well, it's not so different for all employees, managers, whatever. Once you achieve reasonably solid credibility, everything gets easier. Your boss will lighten up and stop managing you so closely. Peers and coworkers won't be as willing to challenge you on issues. Your employees will feel proud. Last but not least, if you're a Type-A overachiever like I am, you'll sleep better at night.
In short, you get to exhale and relax. It's just about the best feeling there is, a few obvious exceptions notwithstanding.
So, ever since the first job where I felt I had something to prove to justify my existence - sometime back in the dark ages - I've made a point of learning how to gain credibility pronto - before buyer's remorse starts to set in and somebody decides it wasn't such a great idea to pay me so much.
5 Ways to Gain Credibility in Record Time
- Make a big splash. Once, in an executive staff meeting at a public company, one exec asked me, "Why do we even need PR. Why don't we just execute?" I replied, "Because, the only thing more powerful than doing something great is saying you're going to do something great and then doing it." It's called delivering on a promise and it creates enormous levels of credibility, just like that.
- Take a big, big risk. Really stick your neck out, and I mean publicly. Tell your boss, your peers, put it in writing and sign it in blood. I'm not kidding. But let me be clear about this: I'm not telling you to completely BS and flop on your face. That would have the opposite effect. I'm saying, as long as there's sound capability and sense behind it, then stretch the goal. Even if you miss by some, you'll get credit for guts and putting yourself out there. Management loves that stuff.
- Work your freaking tail off. Sooner or later, hard work is noticed and pays off. I often tell young people that there's no substitute for hard work and there's no better time than when you're trying to build your cred. Just make sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so key people sort of know how hard you're working. But don't overdo it or you run the risk of losing credibility as a self-promoter who only thinks of himself. That would be bad.
- Get on the hottest program. None of the above matters much if nobody gives a crap about what you're working on. The group, project, product, whatever, has to be top-of-mind for management to take notice or even care. If nobody cares, then what's the point, right? So schmooze like crazy, kiss somebody's butt, do whatever you have to do to get on that hot program that everyone's talking about. Just don't make a habit of the butt-kissing part. Nobody likes that.
- Don't try to BS your way through it. Now this is important, so listen up. You might be tempted to just BS people, befriend the boss, stab coworkers in the back, or try any number of snide political maneuvers to build your cred. Don't do it. I'm not saying it won't work; we've all seen it work. The problem is that it becomes an insidious part of you and, sooner or later, will come back to haunt you. It's the dark side, it's Karma, and it's real, so don't even think about it. Seriously.
If you've got a technique for building credibility in a big way and a short time, by all means, do share it with the entire class.
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