Give up the holiday time bliss
Let’s face it, December at the office is never taken seriously. With many decision makers out on extended holiday vacations, others find themselves in limbo with their work, while waiting for directions or approvals from the MIA management. Dark offices and empty cubes promote a relaxed atmosphere and it’s easy to drift into a sweet “work coma”. It is awfully tempting to give into all that holiday time has to offer at the office; peaceful Facebooking, long liquid lunches and sneaking out at four… and why not?
In my conversations with corporate IT leaders, I learned that Christmas time may be an amazing opportunity to stand out and get ahead. Wrapped-up in family obligations, many key players responsible for projects with high visibility are out of the office. This is a great opportunity to pick up their slack and be the hero who saves the day. Evidently, it’s those who complete projects that get all the glory, no matter how many late nights their predecessor might have invested in the project before them. Therefore you can count on recognition and as a consequence more awesome projects on your desk!
To make it happen, stay alert and note when project owners are planning to be absent, this will surely come up in meetings. Pick a project that makes most sense to take over. Then get in touch with those who see the most value in the project of your desire, to obtain maximum support. Propose your help officially to the current project owner via e-mail, with your “supporters” copied and request a quick meeting with everyone involved to transfer knowledge and set expectations.
It is also a perfect time to bond with all the right people. Get your team behind you by giving everyone something small and useful like a ten-dollar Starbucks card. Hand it to your team mates in a holiday spirit and thank them for their gesture of support you’ve received from them this year. Reinforcement of positive behavior with a treat isn’t only for training pets – it works great in a corporate setting! People love feeling appreciated and having your team behind you is a key component of your success.
Senior leaders who are around would be more likely to do lunch with you while the office is relaxed. Ask them! Don’t miss an opportunity to turn them into your mentors and try to set the stage for recurring visits over lunch or coffee. Passing on their corporate wisdom will play up to their egos, and they will enjoy spending time with you. You can use these meetings to insure their support for your agenda and get extremely valuable off-the-record advice on how to execute your plans effectively. Overall, bonding with influential folks in your organization will turn climbing the corporate ladder into an elevator ride.
Don’t be a party-pooper
Don’t even think about skipping the holiday party! Follow the suggested dress code and carefully choose your date: a socially inept introvert or an obnoxious self-promoter on your arm may be damaging to your career. And if your date is a potential disaster, it’s better to come solo! However when attending without a date avoid another temptation — hooking up with administrative support staff. Minimize your liquor consumption, so that it wouldn’t seem like a good idea at any point of the night.
Focus, as you only have a few hours before everyone becomes tipsy and their memories turn into a blur. Target the folks who matter most to mingle with, and tell their spouses how much you admire them (third party compliments have higher credibility). Somehow hearing from his wife over breakfast “John really admires you” sounds more convincing than hearing that from you directly. Creating positive feelings associated with your name will encourage more support for your growth. So work the crowd!
Holiday time may have a amazing impact on your career and set you up for a promising year ahead if you approach it as such. Of course every company is different, so I am hoping this post will give you some general ideas and your creativity and wit will take it from here. I would love to hear how everyone is dealing with the holidays at their office! What is your strategy?