In every corporate office setting, there are dynamics at play that dictate why individuals choose certain career paths, who’s added to the executive track, or teammates that are an integral part of a company’s success, but content with being led instead of being Lead. And why some individuals are assigned the leadership position for an important project (Rising Stars) or take a support role (which can be just as important and beneficial). Leadership teams will assign project roles to individuals based on personality traits and perceived strengths. Which ultimately ties to two areas for career development – perception and promotability. These two factors, in turn, tie directly to how leadership — whoever that is who carries the influence on hiring and promotion decisions — perceives you and the value you bring to the organization from a short- and long-term perspective. From a “career-pathing” standpoint, it’s important to know how the organization perceives you.
There is a catch when it comes to this perception, however. Most often, it will not be found via a direct conversation you have with your manager. It’s something that you may need to discover for yourself. In some truly transparent organizations (i.e. the companies that don’t just say they want transparency but are transparent with their daily actions and conversations. Or conduct personality tests as part of team building), this may not be a concern. If your company falls in this category, you may already know how your personality traits impact your professional perception. However, if you do not, you may be asking yourself, “How will I know?” You can quickly find out by one simple action which is frequently underrated: observation.
In your daily observations, you may notice that management consistently gives certain individuals special assignments and opportunities — while some individuals, on the other hand, may effectively perform their daily tasks and not get any “special look” from management in receiving special projects or opportunities.
While these are simple observations, a few distinct office personas based on personality traits at work are described below may put it into better perspective:
This individual consistently gets the high-profile projects that grant her excellent exposure opportunities to showcase her talents to upper management, such as representing her team or department at key business meetings; getting invited to meet or present ideas to senior leadership; or even strategizing new business concepts. Her efforts are commonly met with some type of acknowledgment, such as a public thank you or similar recognition. This person is usually seeking the attention from executives and is clearly on track for a promotion and headed to the executive Suite.
This individual consistently gets the time-intensive, complex projects that are important and require a certain skill set, but it does not quite meet the “high profile” project status that grants her the opportunity to get exposure to upper management. Although the role this person serves is instrumental in effectively running the day-to-day business operations, she is a “get it done” employee who is sometimes overlooked and underappreciated. Due to her head-down approach, there is very rarely, if ever, a public thank you to acknowledge her contributions. This person may not be interested in breaking through the glass-ceiling to reach the executive suite.
This individual is usually known as the “Hammer” in the office. Office colleagues usually find her intimidating and she sometimes uses that fear to get her way on business decisions. Her actions are rarely met with disciplinary action, but it can sometimes hinder upward mobility due to alienating cross-functional partners; however, management is aware of this person’s behavior but chooses not to “course correct”, due to the person’s proven effectiveness to accomplish tasks, their tenure at the organization and their influence on business colleagues. This person sits between “Rising Star” and “Worker Bee” status.
This individual is commonly known as the “status quo” person in the office. This is the person who has unlocked the formula of knowing what qualifies as “just enough”. She is content to do her job, seldom doing more than what’s required, and leaves each day without thinking about work until the next business day. This person usually has outside hobbies or interests and rarely takes on new responsibilities at work; they are only interested in doing what’s needed to earn their paycheck. Management tolerates this individual because their work performance meets expectations. Acknowledgement is rarely given to this person nor is this person seeking recognition or a promotion.
This individual is constantly praised for her positively at work, which is widely recognized as her best trait. And, although her positive nature is a refreshing break from laborious office demands and often given high-profile assignments, she is not seen as executive potential; she doesn’t quite have the work ethic of the “Worker Bee” or the long-term potential of a “Rising Star”. But she will likely be on track for a promotion due to her pleasing personality. This person has mastered the saying “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.
So, which office type are you? Did this get you thinking about your perception and promotability? Are you chuckling because you know people who fit into these categories? This is not an all-inclusive list, but it hits on the main types that you may observe in your office every day.
If you discover that your company has placed you in the wrong category or that you fit into an undesirable category, know one very important thing: your career is NOT over! It’s simply means one of two things – you need to change the organization’s perception of you to increase your promotability factor, or change organizations (i.e. explore other companies where you can pursue employment).
When it comes to your career, you always have a choice. So look around you, size up your environment, and see if you’re happy with what you see. Knowledge is power, and if you have it, use it!
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