In the Broadway revival of the musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, protagonist J. Pierpont Finch consistently finds ways to sidle up to company brass while pressing flesh, spelling out his name in a millisecond, and making uncanny personal connections that take him from mail boy to the top of the food chain before you can say, "smooth operator."
That's a lot tougher than it looks. Just ask San Francisco-based career coach and jobs transition specialist Don Asher who was in New York City recently coaching high-potential young executives at Goldman Sachs.
In a subsequent interview with eFinancial Careers he shared some of his own insights toward jumping the corporate boundaries gracefully.
Whereas going over your boss' head is quote clearly "a suicide event," says Asher, you can think out of the box by doing one or more of the following, in an attempt to make yourself known outside of your own department or profit-making team:
· See if you can make it onto a client presentation team. "Sometimes the organization just needs some extra suits (men's as well as women's) to be present," to make the best showing, says Asher, and by tagging along you'll be getting direct access to senior people.
·Become involved with the firm's philanthropy projects. "Everybody is apt to dodge the United Way campaign at work," he says. What they don't realize is, that gives you an excuse to walk around the entire building to tow the United Way banner.
· Floor safety manager works, too. "People think it's goofy or nerdy but it gives you a reason to walk into the offices of your boss, your boss' boss, and so on.
While you're talking about safety, you can always drop some hints about your special talents, whether that involves sales production or (still better) the fact that you are fluent in five languages. Make sure the top people know they are welcome to seek your counsel for any reason at all, whenever it strikes their fancy.
"These are great channels for walking into a senior manager's world," says Asher, who goes on to list several known workplace relationship-starters that are prone to backfire if not handled well:
· Holiday parties, for instance, are rarely all the fun they're expected to be, especially if you are inebriated. Asher's advice: Show up early, grab a white wine, nurse it and get out quick.
· When it comes to things like Fantasy football or March Madness, it's better to be a player than an organizer, says Asher, since several articles have appeared criticizing the such events as work distractions.
For instance, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported in March that "Extra games and wider access to coverage of the NCAA men's basketball championship (A.K.A., March Madness) on smart phones and tablets could increase workplace distractions that threaten to sap employee productivity during the annual three-week long tournament."
Challenger, Gray estimated that total online viewership during work hours was likely to reach at least 8.4 million hours during the March, 2011 tournament, based on viewership in 2010. "Multiply that figure by the average hourly earnings of $22.87 among private-sector workers and the financial impact exceeds $192 million," the firm stated.
Asher is the author of several books including, Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't, and Why.