You’ve made it through the first 18 months of your social-impact job! Give yourself a pat on the back. I know it wasn’t easy but you didn’t break, and now you’ve made a name for yourself.
As I mentioned in part one of this series, You've Got the Job...What's Next?, once you’ve been at your job for 12-18 months, you should be working toward “Superstar Status” by stepping outside of your role and establishing yourself as a leader. You’ll need to be more and do more in order to stay relevant.
Here's how to stay relevant at the workplace by excelling at your work and stepping up for new challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities:
Be an advocate and an ambassador
You were hired because you were able to articulate your passion for the vision as well as how you will drive the mission forward. Now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Advocating for your organization’s cause and being an ambassador for the mission is critical. And once you are in the door, it becomes an expectation.
Being an advocate is about introducing people to the organization, and being actively involved yourself. Is your organization looking for volunteers to help with an event, solicit donations, or collect items? Not only should you volunteer for these activities yourself, get involved in recruiting other volunteers, as well. While it is not expected that you get involved in everything, you should find some things that resonate with you, and dive in.
Next, step up from being an advocate to also serving as an ambassador. As such, you are a representative of your organization. You are an official ambassador when your organization asks you to represent them at an industry event or meeting. When you are in other professional spaces, such as a conference, you are serving in a more unofficial role.
As an ambassador, you will speak to and about your organization’s vision, mission, and values, its work, and its relevance.
While being more can be a challenge, you're hard work is likely to be recognized. You may also discover an inherent sense of personal accomplishment.
Contribute to your organization in a bigger way
As you move along in this journey, ask yourself what your contributions have been and how you have made your organization better. Did you create something that helped streamline a process? Perhaps your work resulted in more families getting assistance in a timely manner, your team was able to more accurately track sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, or you introduced a more efficient system for logging donations. Whatever the contribution, your goal should be to help your organization do what it does, only better.
You should also contribute to making the organization better as a whole. We’ve all heard the term cultural fit. Since you were hired, evidently you are a cultural fit, but are you a culture add? Which diverse skills, viewpoints, and experiences do you bring to the table? Help the organization challenge and expand its views by bringing your unique perspectives and experience to all the work you do.
Stay active and continue learning
Staying active helps you stay relevant at your organization. Yes, you’ve done quite a lot already. You’re an advocate, an ambassador, an agent of (and for) change…what else is there to do? Well, the list is never ending, but I will leave you with these five:
- Raise your hand. In part one of this series I talked about volunteering for stretch assignments, taking on lead roles for various projects, and making yourself a resource for those around you. Never stop doing this! This will allow you to interact with people outside of your immediate team. You get to know different players every time, and if your teammates work in other areas of the organization, you’ll be positioned to know about different happenings throughout the organization. You will also have the opportunity to network with colleagues.
- Stay current on what's happening in your organization. There are several ways you can ensure that you stay in the know. Try periodically reviewing your organization’s website. You will find the most updated news about what has been accomplished, and any new initiatives or campaigns coming up.
- Attend meetings. Many organizations will have town halls where you will find out about new projects, get updates on organizational performance, and have an opportunity to interact with colleagues outside of your usual team. These types of meetings present a great opportunity to network!
- Read your organization's annual report. It will be chock full of information about the organization, including financial information. Why is financial information important? It tells you how your organization is doing and if it has met all of its programmatic goals. Knowing this will help you to better position yourself as an advocate.
- Stay current on what’s happening in your industry. Every professional should know what’s happening in their industry. Always explore changes happening in your industry, as well as new policy, legislation, certification requirements, etc. Being the best at what you do can be challenging, but you already knew that coming in. You also knew that hard work and dedication is what got you the job. It’s important to understand that the being more, doing more, and staying relevant has to occur outside of your organization as well.
In part 3 of this series I will give you advice on how to do just that. Until then, best of luck and continued success on your journey!
About the Author: Waajida L. Small, Ph.D., HCS is a Human Resources scholar and practitioner with over a decade of HR leadership experience. Waajida is currently the Director for Human Resources at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a global non-profit organization with over 4000 staff in 64 countries. Waajida has a doctorate in human capital management and is a certified Human Capital Strategist. For more information about Waajida, please visit www.wls-phd.com. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.