Moving up the corporate ladder can be challenging, and millennials are opting to jump ship for better opportunities rather than work on their skills and move up in one company. Conquering moving up takes a very precise roadmap, and James Adamy, CEO of Ju-mp figured out the formula. He advanced from a 23-year-old sales rep to a Director of a large pharmaceutical company by 30. He created Ju-mp to help younger professionals climb the ladder faster, and shares the secrets to his success: performance, sponsorship, and timing.
Any time you want to climb the ladder quickly in an organization, consistent performance is a must, as it’s a direct reflection on your ability to strategize and execute. Not all customers/employees, territories, and areas are created equally, but that’s where the fun begins and your competitive spirit kicks in.
So what’s the secret to consistent performance? Taking a tailored, customized approach to your business. When people fail to consistently perform it’s usually because they don’t adapt their style, message and approach to each customer or employee.
Building rapport with everyone is one of the secrets to true performance. Try and learn something both personally and professionally with everyone you meet:
Personally: Where are they from? What college did they attend? What sports do they like? Are they married? Kids? What are they passionate about? What are their hobbies? When is their birthday? Remembering these little details and asking general questions about their personal life will go a lot further than you realize and allow you to build chemistry with your professional network.
Professionally: What social style are they? If they are a ‘driver’, the message should be direct and to the point. If they are ‘expressive’, I need to be animated and tell a story. If they are ‘analytical’, I need to share numbers and data. If ‘amiable’, I couldn’t be pushy with my message and need to build a strong relationship for real impact. What do they like about your product? Competitors? Are you bringing value to their business? What’s the total impact?
To become a mentor, leader, and coach on your own team when you’re beginning, you should always know the following about each person:
What motivates each person? How do they like to be coached? What are their personal and professional goals? Do they feel supported? Where can you set them up for success? What are their strengths? Areas of opportunity? What resources do they need? What is their social style? Did they feel valued and appreciated?
Utilize a CRM tool or excel spreadsheet to track the information, and make sure every time you meet with that customer or employee to add a few personal points to show you are an empathetic listener, and care about them, and then transition to business. This often makes people much more receptive to listen.
At the end of the day, customers you’re selling to and/or employees you’re empowering, can tell if you are genuine. If you take time to truly listen to their needs, show you care, understand their business, and then tailor your approach accordingly, success will be right around the corner.
This is equally as important as performance. You can be #1 all you want but without the support and endorsements of those making the hiring decisions, you’ll be left behind.
So, how can you ensure this doesn’t happen to you? Start by identifying where you want to go within your company. James recalls, “For me, I knew from day one as a representative, I wanted to lead leaders. However, that was several positions away from where I currently was. So, I had a ton of work to do in order to bring that aspiration to fruition.” He gives the following tips to get sponsorship in the organization:
- Identify what skill sets and responsibilities are required for each position that you’re interested in moving up to. “I made these elevated requirements part of my development plan and looked for every opportunity to work on them with colleagues, mentors, and coaches once I was completed with my immediate responsibilities for the day,” James advises.
- Quickly identify who the hiring executives and key players are for each position. Map out a strategy to access and build relationships with each. You may not have a direct line to the hiring executives. It’s your job to identify what associates report to them and start finding ways to establish a relationship. Do your homework and learn about their position, accomplishments, and use that to write an introductory email. Most times, associates don’t get the credit they deserve, so signing their praise and recognizing their hard work goes a very long way. Once you get them in your corner, sooner or later the hiring executives will hear about you. Strike when the iron’s hot and introduce yourself – schedule a lunch, call, let them know about your goals and ask if they’d be interested in becoming a mentor. Many times, you have to perform for 12-24 months in your current position before getting promoted, so the sooner you can establish a mentorship or get on their radar, the better.
- Look for opportunities to stand out. “I see way too many people miss tremendous opportunities because fear got the best of them. For example, company conference calls or large meetings where CEOs, GM’s, VPs are in the room or on the line asking for feedback, say something. Be the wolf amongst sheep that confidently speaks up to share something valuable and thought-provoking.” James recommends. Opportunities to get exposure to that many executives at one time are few and far between, so capitalize on them.
- Always make your boss look like the hero. Without their endorsement, it’s very difficult to excel. Look for opportunities to take things off their plates, ask for additional responsibility or volunteer when they ask for help. If there’s a personality conflict or you think they’re incompetent, carry on with a smile, play the game and never let them get the best of you because you’re the one who will pay the price in the end.
No matter what industry or job title you have, these four points, if implemented and executed correctly, will act as your booster rockets to success.
Unfortunately, timing is not something we can necessarily control, so you will need to be patient. However, your goal should be to become the first person hiring executive’s think of when the position you’re seeking is available.
Things that can ‘derail’ very talented people, who’ve have the performance and sponsorship, is their inability to relocate. Several factors come into play with a decision like this, such as uprooting a family or financial considerations. Moving may be a requirement to move up with some corporations, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons for your family.