1. Know yourself
If you are to win at work then you need to understand yourself. Have a clear picture of your own strengths and weaknesses, identify what makes you successful and what doesn't and try and ensure that your job is one that plays to your strengths. We all have weaknesses and if you have something which you feel might hold you back then stop worrying about it and take some action. There are very few difficulties that can't be overcome one way or another.
2. Set your goals
Everyone needs to have goals in life both professional and personal and this is one of the most essential aspects of your career plan. If you want to achieve them you need to set some measurements for yourself on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. If you don't know what you want then you'll never know when you have got it.
3. Update your skills
Make sure you are getting the right training at work to enable you to do your job effectively. If you aren't then make your Personnel Manager aware of why you need certain training and be enthusiastic about wanting it. If the training is not offered in-house then find out who runs the course you want, where you can do it, when and how much it will cost. Outside of your workplace you can enhance your inter-personal skills with activities such as competitive sport which is brilliant for team building or perhaps acting which is a big confidence booster for many people.
Everyone talks about commitment these days but it is absolutely crucial that you believe in the organisation you work for and respect the senior management who are leading it. You have to be in tune with the company philosophy, understand the company strategy, its direction - know where it is that the company is going and make sure that you are on the same train going in the same direction. Without this sense of commitment you lose something in terms of motivation and enthusiasm for the job.
5. Make your voice heard
There is a real difference between making your voice heard, i.e. being assertive, and being aggressive. Don't be too pushy and alienate yourself from other people particularly your peer group because their support and respect for you is vital if you want to get on. Develop the art of timing, of presenting your ideas and views logically, of making sure that they will work and of being receptive to other people's ideas.
6. Take responsibility
Being able to take responsibility and to take the consequences of that responsibility is absolutely crucial. As companies move towards a flat management structure it has two main consequences. First, more junior jobs are becoming more responsible and more interesting but this greater level of empowerment for individuals also means that you have to be able to cope with increased pressure both physical and mental. It may be that suddenly you find yourself reporting to a Board Director with no-one in between which can be difficult. It may require some changes in the way you operate but it's not impossible.
As you become more senior in your career it is likely that you will not be working a 9-5 routine, and that you may have to travel, stay away from home and plan your own schedule. Companies need to see that you are prepared to be flexible to do the job that needs doing wherever it needs doing. A critical factor here is having a partner who is empathetic to the requirements of your job, who understands how important it is for you to be able to develop your career and who gives you support at home.
The importance of networking both within your own organisation and outside cannot be under-estimated. Internally it is important that you are respected and seen as being helpful to your peer group and it also helps if you are liked. Try and be the sort of person that other people like to bounce ideas off or ask advice from - be prepared to put yourself out for others. Outside the office you should be developing contacts with other like minded people so that you can provide mutual help for one another. If you want to keep your career plan on track, then getting to know the right people can help you to get ahead.
The value of having a mentor at work provides an ideal environment for positive career development. Ideally at a more senior level your mentor should be someone you respect, who doesn't have any direct line responsibility for you and who represents good working practices. It is with your mentor that you can discuss difficulties about your job, the people you work with etc. without any fear of repercussion. Your mentor will also be able to give you an objective view of situations and provide helpful advice. Whilst you may be looking for a mentor it is also worth remembering that you could perhaps fulfil that role for someone else.
10. Taking risks
Taking risks is never easy but at some point in your career you will have to do so. It may be taking on a new job in a different area, it may be putting yourself forward for a more senior position or it may even be giving up your job and studying for qualifications which you believe will open new doors. Whatever it is, weigh up seriously all the pros and cons before you make your decision so that when you do take risks they are calculated ones and you are aware of the consequences. But at the end of the day, particularly where work is concerned, there is often an element of 'nothing ventured - nothing gained'.
11. Office politics
There are office politics in all organisations, but it is probably true that the larger the company the more chance there is that office politics assume a greater importance. There are two factors here which are really important. First you need to have someone at the head of the company that does not take part in office politics and basically who disregards them. Secondly, you need to develop a fairly thick skin so that you don't take every rumour and bit of gossip personally. Try and avoid office politics, it is a dangerous game which takes people's focus away from the their career plan and often creates a whole host of problems for them.
12. Work Smarter
Don't fall into the trap of trying to be the person who works the longest hours. Concentrate on delivering results and making sure those results are the best you can achieve. Be confident of your own success and other people will have confidence in you.
13. Being a winner
So what does being a winner take? Certainly commitment, enthusiasm, determination to make things happen, ambition and a real drive for responsibility. It takes all of that plus the right attitude and being in the right place at the right time. Even if you are not looking to move now, you need to be monitoring what is happening in your marketplace. You need to be managing your own career getting yourself ready for your next move rather than waiting to see what might or might not happen.