Top tips for getting ahead in the workplace

Women's representation in the most senior roles in businses is far from what it could and should be. I've compiled some top tips to help you to successfully navigate the politics and conflict, and help build your network and pesonal brand.

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Women's representation in the most senior roles in businses is far from what it could and should be. In the UK women represent only 5% of FTSE100 CEOs and 23% of the Executive Committee members of those businesses, with similar statistics in other western countries.

At Shape Talent we’re on a mission to support women to accelerate career so they can make a bigger impact.

So we've compiled some top tips to help you progress your career more quickly.

We also cover these in our Women’s Career Accelerator programme starting the 12th October, with a module dedicated to each of the areas highlighted below. Click here to find out if this programme could be for you: https://womens-career-accelerator-programme.lpages.co/1/.

Navigating Power & Politics

  • Become politically savvy by getting to know the key players, where the real power lies (which may not be the same as the official power), and how decisions are made within your organisation.

  • Understand the key players agenda, preferences and objectives, and personalise your message to appeal to their cause.

  • Consider the extent of your political awareness and reflect on who can enable and empower you to succeed, so you can play an impactful role.

  • Build positive alliances. Not in a purely self-serving way, but as a way of achieving organisational objectives. Ensure there are people in the business who have ‘your back’.

  • Make politics less personal, in order to keep yourself on an even keel and be more resilient.

Strategic Networking

  • Develop and utilise your network by making sure you have people who can help you in three key areas: operationally, strategically and in your professional development (read this blog for more).

  • Map your network: write down everyone in your network in the above 3 categories and identify gaps.

  • Network online: join relevant groups and identify people of interest on LinkedIn, follow them, engage with their posts, and once you have established connection invite them for a virtual coffee.

  • Don’t be a time waster: when networking, be respectful of the person’s time. Ask their advice, insights and recommendations. And always ask how you can help them.

  • Nurture your network: don’t let yourself get forgotten. Once you’ve established a new network relationship, nurture it by keeping in contact at least 2-3 times a year.

  • Get a sponsor, ideally someone at least two levels above you.

Managing Conflict

  • Accept it: recognise that different perspectives and ideas, and some degree of conflict is inevitable and can be healthy in a workplace – it prevents group think and helps stimulate innovation.

  • Look for win-win outcomes: try to find a position where both parties achieve something valuable

  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood: These are the wise words of Steven Covey. Many misunderstandings can be avoided by careful listening.

  • Be professional – maintain your credibility and cool: always be respectful when faced with conflict. Losing your cool or being unprofessional will always come back to haunt you.

  • Have some time out: if you are struggling to keep your cool, take some time out, away from the confrontation, to calm yourself and revisit the conversation with a cooler and clearer head.

  • Understand your preferred way of dealing with conflict and contemplate the pros and cons. Remember most people default to their preferred style particularly under pressure, and this might be the time that an alternative approach will better serve you.

Sharon Peake

Coach & Founder, Shape Talent Ltd

I am an experienced coach and career development leader with over 20 years' experience in global blue chip businesses focused on career development for individuals and strategic people management for organisations. I specialise in helping upwardly mobile female managers and executives to achieve their potential, navigate career transitions and ensure a fulfilling and rewarding career. My coaching area of focus is all things to do with careers and ensuring fulfilment, performance and effectiveness at work, successfully transitioning to a leadership role, dealing with confidence and imposter syndrome, making an impact on return from maternity leave or other career breaks, helping navigate career 'junctions' and decisions, considering and making career changes, finding your career 'mojo' and other related topics to help achieve a fulfilling and rewarding career. How I work: As a Chartered Occupational Psychologist I bring a psychological perspective to my coaching, looking at the underlying factors that influence the way we behave and respond to situations. Where it helps the client I can use a range of psychometric assessments to bring greater clarity and self-awareness to patterns of behaviour. My clients describe me as insightful, open, warm, encouraging and focused on ensuring the client’s success.

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