Monday, October 5, 2015

So You Want a Promotion?

The move upwards within a corporation can often prove a very frustrating experience.  Given that many organizations have downsized, flattening their organizational tiers, there are often fewer opportunities available and therefore increased competition for the few positions that do open up. Additionally, there seems to also be a sense of entitlement amongst workers, the belief that 'time' somehow adds to your qualifications for advancement.

You know the kind of 'time' I'm referring to here, the thought that the length of time you have remained at a company deserves additional rewards and possibly promotion. Let me state categorically here though...  it does not.  Nor should it.  Merely showing up is not enough to recommend you for 'more'.  In fact, fulfilling your current role and meeting your boss's expectations is the price of entry for promotion, it is the minimum of what you need to be doing to secure a promotion.

In all instances, those that are serious about wanting a promotion need to step up and go beyond the day-to-day requirements of their role, demonstrating not only that they are capable of more, but that they are actively seeking it out.  If you want to take on more of a Leadership role, you need to be prepared to start demonstrating your ability to Lead... now.

The following are my top 10 Tips to help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate that you are ready for that next promotion.

  1. Know your Job.  You have to be good at what you are currently doing if you want to be seriously considered for doing more.  Demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of your current responsibilities, show you are dependable and capable.  This is your foundation.  If you aren't doing this then don't worry about the rest of the list until you have mastered your current role.  
  2. Know the Business.  Make a study of the company.  Know everything you can about the industry, competitors and market.  Go beyond your little corner and expand your understanding of the business you are in.  The more you know, the more you will understand and the greater the potential value you have to add.  
  3. Be Creative.  Use your understanding above to help you come up with ideas to bring forward. What ideas do you have that would add value to your Department, that would help your group add value to the organization? Helping your group succeed provides the foundation for being seen as someone that will help the organization as a whole be more successful.
  4. Network within the company.  Don't just get to know those within your department.  Venture out and form connections across divisions and roles.  Build relationships as your build your reputation. Build your network of champions and cheerleaders that will help to sell you into your next opportunity.
  5. Offer Solutions.  Don't just raise issues.  If you are bringing a problem forward then ensure that you are also offering a suggested solution. Bosses are responsible for solving issues.  If you want to be seen as a potential boss then show you are capable of thinking and taking action like one.  Shifting into problem solving mode rather than problem-raising mode immediately helps to shift the way that others perceive you.
  6. Be Drama Free.  Demonstrate your ability to stay calm under pressure and in times of crisis. Management is looking for cooler heads to prevail during times of stress.  How you handle your small day to day crisis sets the tone for how they will view your ability to handle the 'tougher' issues down the road.  As a boss you will be called upon to defuse the 'drama'.  Hard to do if you are its source.
  7. Develop Yourself.  Identify what skills you lack and find ways to develop and improve them. Take the initiative on your own, whether through a course of study, volunteering for specific project teams or taking on a project of your own.  Don't sit back lamenting the lack of career development support, do what you need to help yourself succeed. 
  8. Challenge Current Thinking.  No, this does not mean argue continuously.  But, if you don't think a current course of action is the best alternative then share your well-thought-out opposing view.  Provide your reasons and supporting data. If you want to be seen as a leader, then it is important you demonstrate your thinking as a leader, which requires you to have thoughts and ideas of your own. You have to be prepared to speak up occasionally in order to get noticed.   
  9. Don't Complain.  In some respects this speaks to point number 5.  Complaining is merely a critical way of raising issues.  You are focusing on what isn't working, what you don't like, and what is broken rather than focusing on fixes for them.  More importantly though, complaining has a powerless component to it which works in complete opposition to how you want to be seen. Sounding powerless will never net you more power.  
  10. Ask how you can help.  Don't wait to be told what to do, seek things out.  See what needs to be done and just do it, or ask what else needs to be done.  Don't wait to be caught doing nothing before taking on an additional task.  Seek out your boss and see what else you can be doing to be of service to them.  
Promotions don't occur by happenstance, and they don't go to those that simply show up.  They do go to those that demonstrate a readiness for them.  The 10 tips above will help you to not just appear ready, but to 'be' ready. A final note though... if you caught yourself thinking that you're not going to do any of the above tips because you're not paid to do 'em... you're not ready for promotion.  

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