It’s Really NOT Who You Know

Yesterday’s post considered the author’s experience with two ways for career progression: 1) hard work, patience and humility that are recognized through production and 2) writing performance appraisals and recommendation packages that describe the work you’ve done when visible results aren’t necessarily available. There is another way and this post is a warning to all our descendants to avoid this method at all costs. It entails riding someone else’s coat tails.

I’ve personally seen this approach many times in my career journey. It never ends well for the practitioner. It starts as they develop their network and build “relationships” with colleagues in their field. Most of the time, these folks are looking for the fast burner in their field who has all the right stuff and rockets up the career pyramid quickly. The coat tail rider manages to find a way to endear themselves to the fast burner using various methods including flattery, focused effort on the fast burner’s priorities, filling a key role on the fast burner’s team, etc. This approach always works for awhile as long as the rider stays on the good side of the fast burner. But eventually, even the fast burner peaks out. Sometimes they peak out early due to the Peter Principle. Sometimes they actually make it to the top, but then there is nowhere else to go so they move on to another agency, another company or even retirement. In all these cases the coat tail rider is left hanging with no sponsor and no future. Its; very sad to watch these people flounder.

The best advice is to just work hard at the job you’re currently in and not worry about who does or doesn’t know you. You work will speak for itself even if you have to write a package to tell the story. I saw a FaceBook post the other day that said “Work so hard that you never have to introduce yourself.” I could go two different directions with that advice, so being the eternal optimist I’ll take the positive approach. If you work so hard that everyone knows you, you’re probably doing something right.

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