You can spot them quite quickly…the individual who clearly puts everything at a lower priority than his or her single-minded goal of quickly getting promoted. Peers typically don’t like working with such individuals who, by the way, seldom realize that their warped values are quite obvious.
This is a bigger problem than you think, particularly for younger people. I was in a board meeting recently of a company that makes engineering-intensive equipment that is used throughout the worldwide technology industry in producing hardware products. I was asking the reason why a manufacturing plant that makes this equipment was being moved from the USA to Taiwan.
The executive in charge indicated that while wages were a factor as well as the availability of young engineers, another key reason was that young engineers from the USA too often don’t want to work for several years in manufacturing facilities, taking on numerous different engineering responsibilities. Such initial assignments are typically used by companies since they are a great way to learn how engineering is practiced in industry and to learn the company and its products. He pointed out that typically in Asia, young engineers are very enthusiastic about such work. Unfortunately, in the U.S. quite often young engineers view such initial assignments as beneath them. They believe they are already qualified to step into big responsibilities.
Concerning the notion of getting promoted, here is my advice: forget it! Just focus on the following three things:
1.) Do your current job very well. Make sure you know what the boss is after and deliver it.
2.) Generate some fresh new ideas on how to improve the operation, modify them based on input from peers and the boss, and make them happen.
3.) Communicate clearly and objectively at all times. Don’t be just an alarmist and/or a critic; be a person who pushes all the time to achieve the current goals and improve the operation.
If you do these things well, I will guarantee you that good things will happen in your career. By the way, the three suggestions apply equally to all levels, be it an entry level or a CEO, whose boss by the way is not only the board of directors but also the customers.