“Refuse to let your time get burned up
with things that are less important.”
A critical lesson Azzarello learned in
her career at HP is that the “most suc-
cessful executives don’t do everything.
They do a few things right and hit them
out of the park.”
Look Better. The second step of Azzarello’s career plan involves making your
work and accomplishments known to
your immediate bosses. After all, if you
deliver excellent results, but no one
above you in the company is aware of
them or doesn’t connect the results
with your job performance, it’ll be difficult for you to advance in your company.
Azzarello recommends creating
an audience list of the people in your
company who should know about your
achievements at work and a communication plan for how to inform these key
players about your work and what you’ve
accomplished. The audience list should
include the influencers who have a say
in your career—your bosses and your
bosses’ bosses—and any stakeholders who are dependent on your work.
And your communication plan should
describe how you will inform these influencers—usually via conversations,
reports, and email—about your job and
what you’ve accomplished.
For your achievements to be appreciated, Azzarello says it’s vital that they
are relevant to your company’s goals.
“Your priorities must be relevant to
their priorities,” says Azzarello. “Your
work must be recognized as matching
the business’s goals.”
Connect Better. The third step of Az-
zarello’s career plan involves connect-
ing with key players at your company,
which involves building relationships
with mentors and creating a broad net-
work of support. “Successful people
get a lot of help from others,” Azzarello
says. “You can’t be successful alone.”
Azzarello stresses the importance of
mentors (note the plural) at your com-
pany and outside of it, and says em-
ployees “shouldn’t attempt career ad-
vancement without mentors.” Not only
can mentors help you understand a
company’s culture and goals, but they,
and other key players, can help you get
a spot on the company’s list of employ-
ees who are viewed as up and coming.
All of this is about visibility. The
company president or other top executives must know or know about you, or
you must have a relationship with mentors or others who are connected to the
company president and key executives.
This step involves networking, and
many people (and Azzarello admits
she’s one of these people) are uncomfortable with meeting new people for
the purpose of networking. If you’re
one of these people, Azzarello’s advice
is to network with the people you already know.
If Azzarello’s career advice sounds
like a lot of work, you’re right—it is.
Which is why she urges employees to
create a yearlong plan for implementing these three stages.
For many employees, Azzarello’s advice is a real challenge. The alternative,
however, is rather unsatisfying. After
all, who wants a zero raise?
“Laptops in the
Do you ever find yourself
checking your email during a boring
meeting? Do you drift off on a wave of
RSS feeds when you should be listening to your colleagues? Do you pretend
to be taking studious notes during
seminars while actually reading Slash-dot? In fact, shouldn’t your full attention be somewhere else right now?
I find it increasingly tempting to do
lots of things at once, or at least take
microbreaks from activities to check
mail or news. I do think it’s rude to
do so during meetings so I try to stop
myself. My students don’t tend to have
such scruples. They use their laptops
openly in class, and they’re not all
conscientiously following along with
my slides, I suspect. In fact, in a recent
study, “Assessing Laptop Use in High-
er Education Classrooms: The Laptop
Effectiveness Scale,” published in the
Australasian Journal of Educational
Technology, 70% of students spent half
their time sending email during class
(instant messaging, playing games,
and other nonacademic activities
were also popular). They did also take
notes and other learning tasks, but
they weren’t exactly dedicated to stay-
ing on task. If you’re interested in sur-
veying your own class to find out what
they really do behind their screens,
the study’s authors provide a reliable,
validated questionnaire tool about
laptop usage in education.
Jack Rosenberger is senior editor, news, of
Communications. Judy Robertson is a lecturer at Heriot-Watt