I have a friend who worked for years at a large consulting firm. He started there straight out of college and was promoted a few times over the years. Sometime after getting promoted to consultant, the highest non-manager position at his firm, he was up for another promotion. When review time rolled around, he thought for sure he’d get it. He was doing great work and his team had no complaints. But he didn’t get the promotion.
He thought about why he didn’t get it, and he figured it was because he didn’t have an MBA. So he enrolled in a part-time MBA program at a top five business school. After two years in the program, he continued working at the same company. His next review came up, and he for sure thinks he’ll get the promotion this time. After all, he spent six figures to get an MBA from an elite university and develop new business skills.
But he didn’t get the promotion again.
Frustrated, he quit his job. After a few weeks searching for a job, he finally took a job at a rival consulting company, with the same job title, but for less money!
Technical skills aren’t enough
The frustrating thing for my friend is that he found out too late why he didn’t get promoted: it was because his interpersonal skills weren’t strong enough for the promotion level. But rather than work on his interpersonal skills, he quit and hoped his MBA would be enough to get him the promotion at another company. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out.
When you’re doing technical work, you need technical skills of crunching numbers and finding data. As a manager, you need far more interpersonal skills to deal with awkward conversations and coach your direct reports. And as your go further up the corporate ladder, you will need to start networking outside of your company to get clients and learn about the industry’s best practices. If you don’t have those skills, you’re going to hit a glass ceiling early in your career. Fortunately, you can learn and improve your interpersonal skills at any stage of your career.
Developing your interpersonal skills
Over the next few weeks, I’m releasing a series of posts to help you improve your interpersonal skills and climb up the ladder. Here’s what we’ll talk about:
Part 1: Body language – projecting confidence
Part 3: Networking – more than LinkedIn
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