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Want To Get Promoted? Develop The Habit Of Going The Extra Mile (GTEM)
Richard A. Chambers (Rik for short, his nickname) was my training manager/coordinator at Guinness Nig. Plc Ikeja Brewery, Lagos 1994/95. During approx. During the one-year period I reported to him, he repeatedly challenged me to be highly competent as a brewer and manager.
By the time I left for Benin Brewery I had four thick spiral bound training reports (printed by myself) filled with lots of large pictures (taken by Rik) of almost every process area/plant I had been trained on. These documents – just as Rik assured me – proved to be very useful references during my later years at the company. In fact, many newcomers (and some older drivers) have to rent them and make copies at various locations!
But that’s not all. It was Rik’s prowess in Lotus Spreadsheets macro programming that really brought us close. Within six months, in accordance with his assigned official role, he single-handedly developed an automated brewery variable cost analysis spreadsheet application that was adopted by both Lagos and Benin breweries for official MONTHLY brewery performance reporting.
Fortunately for me, he noticed the interest I showed in watching him furiously code various data entry/report generation interfaces and decided to involve me by giving me a laptop and letting me check the formulas for errors.
As time went on he started giving me copies of ALL the code in the various applications – the brewing and packaging departments. I was still an intern, but 6 months after continuing at Benin Brewery, I was officially responsible for maintaining/updating Riki’s Benin Brewery software. This was ALL senior management level work – the very complex formulas for calculating key performance indicators (KPIs) would have scared most people off, but Rik had prepared me well.
No wonder then that by 1997 I had successfully developed four custom reporting applications to replace manual data processing systems in the brewing department. Over time, my skills would find use in other departments – including engineering services and packaging departments.
But you know the best part? I did all this INFORMALLY – in my spare time – while still working as a full time brewer/manager. No one gave me a break and I never asked for it. The challenge was there – and I was up for it, and the passion/excitement to make a tangible difference was enough. Having seen Rik do so many things OUTSIDE of his duties, I had no problem with the same. He had set a good example.
My time with Riku prepared me for the success I would later achieve at Guinness. Examples include being appointed to the company-wide Project Insight team that developed comprehensive formats for computerizing technical report data collection, analysis, etc. High-level postings to relieve senior managers in various departments/sections would be followed by promotion and then more postings, including foreign travel to attend international courses.
But I didn’t rest on my laurels – indeed, by the time I left the company (to start my own business) I had successfully acquired MS Excel-VB programming skills through self-taught, taking advantage of the company’s transition from Lotus. Smart Suite for MS Office. So, I didn’t just jump into developing custom spreadsheet solutions. I’ve been doing this for YEARS before I got into it.
It’s important not to get puffed up or think you’re better than those who aren’t as talented at what they do. I will NEVER grow up to call ANYONE – even a 5 year old – a little boy or girl. The last thing I ever want to be is a BIG MAN – you know the ones who blow everyone up because they have money/power or position. It’s ironic that billionaires like Warren Buffet, who have MORE reason to go BIG, still use old model cars and remain humble!
This article is written to encourage anyone currently in paid employment who may feel that it would not be in their best interest to allow themselves to fill roles that they consider to be outside of their job description. In many cases, the opportunities for growth, advancement, and success are work in disguise—to paraphrase Thomas Edison.
And that’s why most people miss them! If you want to equip yourself for sustained success, make sure you achieve full mastery of your core responsibilities in a way that allows you to successfully take on ADDITIONAL challenges, making decision makers SEE that you have the ability to handle higher responsibilities.
Some people go by the “status” they think their work gives them. They are obsessed with acting as BIG men and women. This mentality makes them feel that they are too big to play certain roles. And that leaves them a loser in career advancement—especially in a company that’s looking for selfless leaders to make things happen.
No serious decision-maker will give you a promotion or a career opportunity without being confident that you have the capacity—and the sustained passion—to achieve the desired results. Develop the Going The Extra Mile (GTEM) habit in your work today and watch yourself move to a NEW level of success!
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