6 Career Success Tips from a Chief HR Officer

Every month I post two interviews on My Corporate Climb, my membership site.

One is with a C level executive. These folks share their stories about their personal corporate climb and what they learned along the way.

The other is with a career success coach. These folks share their wisdom on what it takes to create the life and career success you want and deserve.

If you’d like to learn more about My Corporate Climb check out the replay of a webinar I did a while back. I share a lot of great common sense career success advice on it. You can find the webinar here: http://www.mycorporateclimb.com/squeeze_pages/13337-bud-bilanichs-corporate-career-success-webinar/

September’s C Suite interview featured Sylvia Montero, retired Chief HR officer at Pfizer Inc and bestselling author of Make It Your Business.

In this fast paced interview, Sylvia offered six tips for climbing the corporate ladder:

  1. Be enthusiastic.
  2. Be a problem solver.
  3. Know the business.
  4. Treat failures as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  5. Treat feedback as the gift that it is.
  6. Build relationships across your company.

Let’s look at these six tips in a little more detail.

Be enthusiastic — All employers love enthusiastic, engaged employees. You can demonstrate your enthusiasm and engagement by doing small things – show up on time, work till you get the job done, smile, cooperate with your colleagues. But volunteering for tough jobs is the best way I know to demonstrate your enthusiasm and engagement. When you volunteer for tough assignments you show that you are willing to take a risk – tough assignments are tough because you might not always succeed. You also demonstrate you are willing to put the company first by taking on important tasks that aren’t always easy or pleasant.

Be a problem solver — Senior leaders like employees who are problem solvers. I have a coaching client who is a C Level executive in a very large, Fortune 50, company. He has a little plaque on his desk that says, “DBMAPWOAS.” When people ask him what that means, he says, “Don’t Bring Me a Problem Without a Solution.” It’s great to be able to identify problems. It’s even better to come up with solutions to them.

Know the business – Knowing the business means not only knowing your small part in it, but knowing the success drivers for your company. To do this, you need to stay up on what’s going on in your company, your industry and business in general.

One way to see how well you understand your company’s business is to see if you can answer 11 questions.

For the most recent fiscal year end:

  1. How much cash was on hand?
  2. How much cash was generated from operating activities?
  3. What was total net income?
  4. What was the net profit margin?
  5. What were total sales?
  6. What was the inventory turnover rate?
  7. What was the return on assets?
  8. How much did sales grow over the previous year?
  9. How much did net income grow over the previous year?
  10. How much did Earnings per Share grow over the previous year?
  11. How do all of the above compare to your competition?

Here’s a hint. You can find the answers to all 11 of these questions in your company’s annual report.

Treat failures as an opportunity to learn and grow – You’ll fail on your corporate climb. If you never fail, you’re not taking on enough challenging assignments. Henry Ford once said, “You fail only when you don’t learn something from the experience.” So when you run into a setback, don’t pout, don’t blame others, figure out the lesson to be learned in your failure. When you do this, you’ll be taking charge of your life and career and using failure as a stepping stone to success.

Treat feedback as the gift that it is – Feedback is a gift. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, but it is. None of us like to get negative feedback, but negative feedback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Truly successful people seek out feedback. They ask for advice on what they can do better. Unsuccessful people don’t seek feedback. And, they often try to rationalize it, instead of seeing what they can learn from it.

Build relationships across your company – Solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are an important success key. Start building relationships right away. Get to know the colleagues in your department. Then broaden your scope – get to know people all across your company. As you move up the corporate ladder, you’ll find yourself dealing with people in other departments more frequently. You’ll be better prepared to deal across departmental lines if you have some relationships already in place.

That’s the career advice I found in Sylvia Montero’s thoughts on what it takes to climb the corporate ladder. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always, thanks for taking the time to read my daily musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.

If you want to learn more about how to climb the corporate ladder faster check out the free rebroadcast of a webinar I did recently. You can find it at http://www.mycorporateclimb.com/squeeze_pages/13337-bud-bilanichs-corporate-career-success-webinar/




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  1. Thanks for your comment Brent.
    You’re right on — especially the part about how to answer questions about your weaknesses.
    All the best,

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