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Dying to Get Ahead? 10 Tips for Reinventing Yourself

Dying to Get Ahead? 10 Tips for Reinventing Yourself

Carly Chynoweth | The Times

There are all sorts of reasons to change who you are at work. Team players might want to become team leaders. Process-driven rule-followers might decide to reinvent themselves as creative thinkers. Whatever the reason, it is best not to turn up at the office one day in proper shoes only to return to your trainer-wearing slacker ways a week later — not least because people will assume you were simply job-hunting. Take a strategic approach with these tips.

1. Know who you want to be

Know who you want the new you to be. “The first thing is to identify how you want senior management to perceive you,” Gabriella Goddard, an executive coach and author, said. “Look at what you are doing now and think about what you need to change.” According to Diane Bradbury, the managing director of Spring Personnel, you should look at people who are already successful and identify the sorts of behaviours that they demonstrate.

2. Get the look

Freedom of expression is for artists and students. Appearances matter, so if you want to get ahead, dress the part. “If the bosses are suited and booted, you should be, too,” Miss Bradbury said.

3. Get a piece of paper

Reinventions demand confidence; qualifications can help this. Chris Burney, the head of retail sales at Daisy, a telecommunications company, is only 26 but has already reinvented himself twice, most recently when stepping into a senior management role. “I had completed [management] qualifications so I knew I had the knowledge and the grounding to help me do the new job,” he said.

4. Consider your comfort zone

Going from being seen as someone who lives by the book to a creative lateral thinker is easier if you take small steps rather than trying to change everything at once. Ms Goddard helped one such manager to develop a reputation for creativity by asking him to become the person who suggested brainstorming sessions in meetings rather than, as in the past, the person who wanted to make sure that people stuck to the guidelines. “It is about looking for creative ways to improve the process you are already comfortable with,” she said.

5. Get your manager on side

Managers want the best for their people and are open to being pleasantly surprised. Tell them what you are planning and they will probably help, Emilie Duquenne, the learning and development director at L’Oréal, said. “Being proactive is always well-received,” she said. But don’t forget to manage the image you portray with them; if you are constantly asking for help with operational issues, they are unlikely to peg you as a strategic thinker.

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