Several years ago, I was passed over for a promotion. I felt under-valued and under-appreciated. I couldn’t understand how someone who did half the work I did, who spent most of the day at coffee meetings, who relied on others to do a significant portion of the job was selected over me. Then, I had my eyes opened to how the other half lives.
When I met Kyle, he showed me that there is a difference between your job and your work. He taught me that professional success is not just about being hard working and competent, it is also social and political. And suddenly, I understood why I wasn’t promoted, what my colleague had that I didn’t. He helped me see that I was too dismissive of those who excelled at the social parts of the job I struggled with. So I asked him to write a few posts on the advice that I have found most valuable.
Meet Work vs. Job. Take it away, Kyle.
Many people conflate your work with your job, but they are completely different things.
Your job is the daily tasks you are assigned to complete. Many people think checking theses boxes off in a timely manner is their only responsibility. Then, they wonder why someone (who they often deem less competent) is getting the promotion, or raise, or trip, or perk that they desired. That person likely got the desired benefit because they are better at work.
Work is all the tangible and intangible things that happen while people are performing their job. Many people (like Abra) argue that “that stuff shouldn’t matter” and that “it’s about the work you produce.” But in most workplaces, doing your job well is not enough. So let’s talk about one intangible thing that every employee can benefit from: Managing your boss.
Managing your boss is one of the most important things that you can do on daily basis to advance your career. And chapter one of a multi-volume series on proper boss management is Only Good News Goes Up.
Nobody is saying that you shouldn’t escalate a major problem, that will get you fired. But habitually relaying minor inconveniences or setbacks can have a devastating impact on your reputation and career.
Your boss pays you to handle setbacks; she doesn’t need to know about every single setback or hiccup. Constantly bringing up negative developments makes you a Bad News Bear.
So what should you do instead?
Fix the problem. Resolve the issue. Mitigate the damage. And then, once the storm has passed, work into a conversation how a setback happened and you resolved it. This way your boss sees only sunny skies.
Also, on the flip side, all good news travels up. You made the deal. The opposition conceded. The client is happy. The bill passed. Whatever it is, find an organic way to let them know about it. Drop an e-mail. Send a text. Catch them at the water cooler.
Everyone like to hear good news. Especially good news that they can then give to their boss. (Never steal another person’s good news. It is more valuable to you to give them good news to deliver.)
Sharing good news also makes you a welcome sight anytime you’re knocking on an office door. You want your boss to be glad to see you coming whenever possible. “Oh, I was having a s**t day, but here’s Betty, she always has good news for me.”
Be a Good News Betty. Bosses like Betty.
*Editor’s Note: I asked Kyle to write these posts because his perspective on career success is very different from mine. His advice, even when I disagree with him, always makes me see things in a new way. And I’ve discovered that having such a different perspective in my ear has helped me excel at the areas of professional success that do not come naturally to me.
Some readers have said that they don’t want to see career advice from a man on this blog. I post Kyle’s perspective because I’ve never talked to anyone who thinks about work this way, male or female. Incorporating his perspective into some of my career decisions has reaped benefits for me, and I hope it helps others who might need it.