Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been told that you could do anything. Now you’re wondering if someone’s been lying to you all these years.
You set your sights on business, you got the “right” degree, and you landed a great job. As hard as you work, though, it seems like the “glass ceiling” is quadruple-paned, and you’re not getting ahead.
You’re a minority at work. Even in this day and age, could that be the issue?
Maybe. Maybe not.
In his new book Good is Not Enough (with Sonia Alleyne), author Keith R. Wyche says that you can get ahead in business, no matter your gender or ethnic background. It’s just going to take a little more work at work.
Congratulations, the job is yours. Sweet words, aren’t they?
But hold up. Long before you sign an acceptance letter, Wyche says, be sure that the corporate culture is going to be a good fit for you. Have you done your research about this particular business? Are you willing to do what it takes to assimilate?
On the job and off, never underestimate the power of networking. Nurture your contacts and look for a mentor (someone you choose) and a sponsor (someone who chooses you) to help navigate this job and beyond. Utilize those people to garner inside information, and be ready to sponsor or mentor someone when it’s your turn to do so.
Be willing to stand out and be seen. You may already be visible by virtue of your minority status, but Wyche says you should also volunteer for extra work and off-hours events, and seize every opportunity for face-time with senior-level management or out-of-town corporate visitors.
Demand (nicely) a quarterly progress report and heed it. Make sure you and your boss are in agreement with how your job should be performed. Be willing to make lateral moves. Always prepare better than do your colleagues. Be ethical because you won’t get a “second chance.” If all else fails, have a good exit strategy and never give up.
When I got my copy of Good is Not Enough, I was intrigued. Here’s a book expressly for young minorities, written by an African-American man. There must be some in-the-trenches, in-the-know, double-secret information in here, right?
Yes and no.
Wyche, who is the president of U.S. operations for Pitney Bowes Management Services, uses personal stories and those of friends and colleagues to illustrate paths and pitfalls for passionate people eager to move up in business. The interesting thing is, although he includes plenty of information specifically for non-white as well as non-male professionals, much of the advice he offers is useful for anyone of any race or gender who wants to get ahead in the workplace.
Be aware that this isn’t a book for someone who just “wants a job;” instead, it’s heavy on corporate America-type careers. But if you’ve got your eyes on the corner office and the salary to go with it, reading Good is Not Enough is a pretty good start.
Good is Not Enough by Keith R. Wyche with Sonia Alleyne c.2008, Penguin Portfolio $24.95/ $27.50 Canada 242 pages
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.