What Got You Here Won't Get You There


As you have probably discovered, the superior education and technical skills that landed you your current job are not enough to advance your career to the next level.

We at Moving Up in America provide you with valuable strategies, resources, and guidelines to get you "there."

"There" is where you want to go next: as team leader, project manager, or CTO.

Unwritten Rules of the American Workplace

You have probably been puzzled by why some things are done in your company. In the American workplace, there are assumptions about business behavior that native-born Americans naturally understand and operate on.

They grew up knowing them. For example, when speaking up at meetings, native-born professionals try to "sound smart" to make a positive impression on others. They don't aim to be modest, as many foreign-born professionals like you were taught to behave.

To "sound smart" means to express ideas not only accurately and clearly but also in an articulate, eloquent style with interesting bits of information and good vocabulary.

In our ezines, you will discover more information about unwritten rules that will help you advance your career.

Now let us turn our attention to additional skills you need besides technical knowledge.

Essential Soft Skills

Soft skills differentiate those who advance from those who are left behind.

Soft skills are required because of the increasingly complex workplace. Other significant factors that affect your career include higher performance standards due to global competition, how knowledge is distributed throughout your company, and the increased need for speed and agility by all parts of your company.

Soft skills include:

  • Self-Awareness Skills

  • Interpersonal Skills

  • Team Skills.

Self-Awareness Skills

Successful professionals know:

  • Their basic preferences or style

  • Their strengths and weaknesses

  • Their cultural biases, values, and attitudes

  • How all these influence their ability to achieve their goals.

Self-awareness enables you to act strategically, not just logically or automatically, with different people in different situations.

For example, engineers from Asia, because of cultural differences, tend to be uncomfortable engaging in frank, open, and energetic communication with their American-born manager.

Unfortunately, the reserved and more private style they prefer may tend to confirm the belief of their manager that they lack the "people skills" necessary to manage others.

Interpersonal Skills

To succeed in the high tech environment, where tasks are interdependent, you need to be interpersonally competent.

It's not enough to know how to do your job. You need interpersonal skills to get your job done.

Interpersonal competence requires the ability to:

  • Give and receive feedback effectively

  • Raise difficult issues and be able to resolve them

  • Communicate with others from different cultural backgrounds.

Team Skills

Collaboration is critical in the high tech organizational culture because tasks are complex. No one has enough expertise to accomplish tasks by themselves.

To succeed in this team-based environment, you need to:

  • Work collaboratively with many others

  • Face and manage conflicts constructively

  • Understand the impact of cultural diversity

  • Develop strong and trusting relationships.

Summary: You Need to Manage Your Career

Promotions and better jobs don't happen automatically in the American workplace because you are technically proficient.

Instead, you need to manage your career.

This involves self-promotion, which we will discuss in future ezines. Self-promotion involves calling attention to your strengths and successes, so the right people notice you.

You need to deliberately build a network of relationships that contribute to your career advancement.

To develop your network, you need to be comfortable with small talk about informal topics and casually talking about your achievements and successes.

Here are two helpful resources for managing your career: The International Advantage by Marcelo Baros and, as reviewed in an earlier blog, The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman.

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