So, you want to progress your career – but how? The truth is that there is no exact recipe for what you need to be doing.  The reality is that it is a mixture of things which pretty much all revolve around building relationships with others.

I’m going to share with you the four areas you need to focus on – these aren’t quick fixes or even easy to do but they are what’s needed to get the career you want.

Top tip: I find with many of my clients, progress comes from focusing on a few specific areas well rather than having a list of ideals and ending up doing none of them – behaviour change takes time.

Let’s look at the four areas to progress your career in turn

  1. Managing your boss better

It’s said that most people leave a boss not a job. This relationship is really key to your success. It affects you day-to-day in terms of how you work, the responsibilities you are given and your overall happiness at work too but also your future career prospects – your boss is usually involved in what roles you move to next.

 Practical tips:

  • Understand when your boss is at their best – if he/she is not a morning person then picking 9am to talk about a challenge isn’t a good idea.
  • Work out where he/she is coming from, what are his/her key pressures at this point at work and maybe even personally. There’s often a lot impacting someone’s behaviour that we either don’t know or fail to consider. For instance, if you have a new boss, perhaps they are having to overcome difficulties caused by the previous person, that you are unaware of.

Take some time now to sketch out some notes about when your boss is at their best and the pressures you know they are under – and the ones you suspect they are under. Consider how you can best use this information to approach your boss in a way and at a time that they will best respond to you.

  1. Strategic Relationship Management

Making time to know people around your organisation is essential to help you progress your career. Why?

First, in case you want to move to another part of the organisation they can help you identify potential opportunities and even suggest them to you.

Second, knowing others around the organisation who can support you when you want to progress.

Real example: A recent client of mine was being blocked for promotion by her boss. However, as we worked on her other relationships, her colleagues are now advocating to her boss that she is the right person for a new opportunity.

Practical tips:

  • Consider your career objectives (these could be related to progression and/or to improving in your current role) and who in your organisation can help you further these objectives. In some cases, you might not even know who the person is that you need to build a relationship with. Find out who they are!
  • Make a realistic plan for building the relationship with some of these people – pick 2-3 for the initial 3 months, then review.

To find out more about how to build relationships successfully and genuinely, request my free guide Nine Neglected Skills needed for career success:

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  1. Managing a team effectively

When you have a team that works well it makes your life a lot easier and everyone’s careers more fulfilling. I hear so many people say that their team is a burden rather than the asset it should be. It’s true – it takes work to get it to be an asset, but it’s important to invest the time and energy to make it so.

Practical tips:

  • Make sure your team are clear on what they are trying to achieve and who does what. This is pivotal, so that individuals take ownership for their work and are focused on the right goals.
  • Identify the key development areas of your team members and make a plan for supporting them with those development points.
  1. Managing upwards

Make time to consider the chain above you. Understanding and aligning with (or being able to positively challenge) the vision and priorities of those above you is key to progress your career. Those who just stick to their day job are unlikely to progress as they want to.  It does take greater involvement and working hard on relationships with a wider group of people than your immediate line manager.

Practical tips:

  • Show an interest in others for who they are, not just the work they do. People forget that more senior people are human too. Without being intrusive, it’s a great skill to build rapport with senior people.
  • Don’t be afraid to showcase what you have achieved;  this is a lot easier to do when the relationships exist and are positive.

To read more on managing upwards, click here.


So which area do you need to focus on most to progress your career? It’s better to start with one, taking time to do what you need to (diary blocking is essential) and progress it before adding another focus area.

If you’d like to talk about where you are at and what you want to work on, you can book a no obligation 30 minute Career Booster conversation with me here.

If you feel you are ready to invest in progressing your career and developing these skills, then find out more about my Career Progression Programme™ here.