In today’s challenging job market, I’m often asked, ‘can professionals strategically move up the ranks when competition is at a peak’?

It’s tempting to resort to the status quo during times of uncertainty, to keep your head down and work hard, hoping your efforts will be appreciated.  In today’s workplace however, you need a strong plan of action to gain visibility and recognition as a leader. 

I recently spoke with Jamie Haydel, Director of People Development and Culture where she oversees eight Walk-On’s restaurants. Her efforts have inspired the corporate office to develop a formal mentorship program, Blue Chip, to accelerate the professional development of employees within the business.

Jamie started as a server and quickly moved up to manager, assistant general manager, general manager and finally director, all within a decade. Committed to developing others, Jamie has developed a set of strategies she shares with professionals looking to advance in their organizations:

  • Ingrain yourself in the Culture – From shared attitudes to behavioral norms, company culture is the glue that bonds teams together, so make time to contribute and encourage others to do the same. The buy-in helps build trust among team members, a critical attribute that supervisors look for in people they’d like to develop.
  • Understand (and then teach) the ‘Why’ – Behind every process is a purpose. So, if you’re committed to growing with a company, it’s critical to understand the purpose and share it with others. Taking the mentoring process one step further to share the ‘why’ helps empower others and establish yourself as the go-to contact and leader.
  • Strengthen the Team Around you – It’s not enough to simply excel in your area of work. By showing that you have the capacity, empathy and skillset to help others around you is the sign of a leader. Making time to train others on the right processes, answer questions or assemble a team to tackle projects ahead of being asked to, will help your team succeed and show that you are a team player.
  • Remain Consistent and be Reliable – Consistency and reliability are two very underrated qualities. When a team member’s work ethic and positive attitude are consistently present each day they come to work, it makes them reliable. And when you’re reliable, you’re trusted to tackle high-profile projects and viewed as a leader among your peers and supervisors.

Of course visibility is key to building your brand as a leader.  Look for the projects and opportunities to gain recognition for your contributions, a critical factor in career advancement.  Above all, retain your integrity.  When you align your work with your values, the outcome is a win-win for both you and your employer.