How To Earn A Promotion
Promotion is one of the greatest boosts to some while for the others it could become their biggest challenge.
Most organisations provide periodic opportunities to scale up the corporate ladder. Cracking those opportunities is a responsibility that solely rests with you. You don’t have to bend over backwards or sacrifice your dignity to get a promotion. What is required is proper planning and systematic efforts that can make you a front runner every single time an opportunity arises.
The first thing you have to understand is that you are going to be judged on how well would you be able to handle the position that you are going to be applying for and not so much on how well you perform in your current role.
Being a good performer alone doesn’t entitle you to a promotion. Based on how well you seem to be doing in your current role, your performance and your abilities provide your superiors with an insight into your capability to handle your new position.
No matter how well you perform in your current role unless you display the skills and knowledge required to ace the next level, you will only be looked at as a good performer and not really as someone who should be considered for a promotion.
One of the biggest necessities to get promoted is to have the vision and the perspective of looking at issues from the company’s point of view.
This is something that is practiced very seriously in armed forces around the world. They train their personnel to think from the perspective of their immediate superiors. So in the event of a casualty or if the team has to split up and move in different directions, there is someone who can lead the rest of the team.
The ability to get work done, the ability to lead a diverse group of individuals, people with different levels of aptitude, different levels of motivation, different attitudes, and different motivating factors. How well can you handle all that? How well do you gel with your team? Can you lead your team to success?
So when you decide you want to be moving up the ladder, your first step should be to introspect. Introspect whether you have portrayed yourself to be the ideal candidate for the next level. How well have you handled incidents, people, and possibly even criticism? If you think you have handled them well, then are the right people aware of it? How well have you projected your thoughts, to prove that you are capable of taking over more responsibilities ? And if you have, has it even registered in your superior’s mind that you are truly looking forward to the next level?
During my time in the corporate world, I used a lot of these steps to scale in my career at regular intervals and grew right up the ranks of Head of Operations in large organizations. Having started at an entry-level, I moved up the ladder and was able to head the Operations teams in less than 13 years.
Here are some of my best practices that I would like to share.
The Next Level
Get to understand what life is like in the next position that you’re aiming for. You have to understand the responsibilities, the challenges, and the opportunities that you would encounter when you move up the ladder.
As good as you may be in your current role, it all counts for nothing if your boss doesn’t think you can handle life at the next level.
The company would be looking for someone whom they think is the best fit for the role. They will want to make sure that anyone who gets there has the skills necessary and be capable of dealing with the challenges that they would encounter.
In preparation for your promotion, make sure you get to understand what your boss deals with on a day-to-day basis. Frequent conversation with your boss always helps in getting to know their activities. Never lose sight of this as this is how you prepare yourself to face the challenge when it is thrown at you.
Figure out where you stand currently. Do you think you have what it takes to take on the challenge? If the answer to that question is a no, then bridge the gaps either in terms of knowledge or the skills that you think you lack.
One of the most important things to do when you are looking for a promotion is to show intent.
You have to let your boss know that you are aiming for a promotion. That first step of intent “HAS” to come from you, no one else is going to take interest in your growth.
Don’t wait to get picked or don’t wait for your boss to highlight your accomplishments, they don’t have the time and even if they do, most of them don’t care. You have to be the one who makes all the noise about yourself after all you deserve it, don’t you?
Convey your intent clearly to your boss. Make him/her know that your goal is to be moving up the ladder.
Ask for Guidance
Who can be a better guide to you than your boss? Most bosses appreciate when they have people approaching them with the intent of getting themselves promoted. They would now be aware that they are dealing with someone who is actively looking to achieve something.
They would know that you would be willing to work for it and most bosses would be more than happy to share their view of things. Ideally, they should be happy to guide you along the way.
To be able to attain your goal which is your promotion, you would have to accomplish the organization’s goals too, and that would excite most bosses because they now will start looking at you as someone who will execute their plans.
Showcase Your Ability
Now that you have very clearly shown the intent, it is time to show the WHY you deserve to get promoted.
Again, I cannot stress on this enough, that all your focus and efforts should be going into handling life at the level at which you plan to be and not just where you are.
So the first thing would be to get a good level of understanding of the role that you are looking to apply for. Get to understand what would be expected of you, if you are chosen for the role.
You could choose to take on the most complex task in your project or your team. Try and get yourself into positions where you would be firmly in the spotlight.
Mostly, it should be related to problem-solving. How do you resolve issues that plague the company? How do you go about the analysis? How quickly and how well do you get to the root of the problem? How do you arrive at the best possible solution?
It is all about being able to make your boss’s life easier. You would want to make things easier for them either by fixing any gaps or coming up with innovative ideas that can help your company reduce cost, reduce errors or to increase the output. Example: Training a new hire or bridging knowledge gaps within your team certainly helps.
Learn to anticipate issues, learn to predict outcomes, and come up with innovative ideas to ease the undesirable effects.
Have Regular Discussions with Your Boss
Communication always plays a key role in every aspect of life and it is the same when it comes to your professional life. Especially when it comes to dealing with your boss your communication plays a vital role. It is important that you stay on the same page and think along the same lines as your boss.
You don’t always have to agree with everything your boss says and if you can suggest something better, never hold yourself back. But remember to do it respectfully.
You certainly do not want to offend the one who is a key stakeholder in your promotion. Think about it, would you like to be around someone who doesn’t respect you? I am sure the answer is a no. Hence when you don’t like someone disrespecting you, the same would hold good even with your boss. So show necessary courtesy when disagreeing.
Get all the information required in as much detail as you can and do not leave any room for ambiguity.
Ambiguous parameters are one of the major hurdles that people face when they go about looking for a promotion. A lot of times, you would think that you have gone beyond your expectations and you have delivered beyond what everyone else would have done, only for your boss to say that your performance was just on par with what he/she was expecting.
This is the result when you do not know what is expected of you.
Discuss and set parameters, to gauge your performance. Don’t leave anything to chance or interpretation. Get all answers in as many details as you can. Don’t step out of the meeting without getting all your doubts clarified and needless to say, if any doubts creep up at any time in the future, make sure you get them clarified too.
Skipping this would only mean chasing shadows leading to a lot of frustration.
Never let things pass and never leave yourself relying on your boss’s memory. Remember, you are not the only one who reports to your boss. There would be a few more people, all with similar expectations and unless our boss is a robot, he/she will never remember your accomplishments.
So, you take the lead and make sure everything is documented for your boss to review.
Document your goals, your progress, accomplishments and share them with your boss and get a confirmation from him/her. Acknowledgment from their end is very essential.
Become Your Boss’s Troubleshooter
Figure out if you can be of any assistance to your boss. If there is any nagging issue that they need help with, take the initiative to assist.
Again, your skills of pre-empting the needs of your company and knowing your boss’s plans for your team will take you a long way.
Make yourself indispensable. Become the person your boss would always turn to for help, become the person your boss can always count on, and become your boss’s go-to person.
Take up Initiatives
Take the lead to initiate new steps in your team. This is something that most bosses like when someone can take some workload off their shoulders.
So when you know what is happening with your boss’s targets, figure out ways to enhance the process, ways to equip your teammates to be able to perform their tasks a lot better, and ways to contribute towards helping your boss achieve their target.
Don’t hesitate to take the lead and initiate things to help your team.
However, there is one thing you need to keep in mind, you are not leading your team yet, your boss is. So always be sure to keep him/her in the loop and take permissions whenever necessary.
Until your boss allows you the freedom, do not take it for granted. Or else, you will be perceived as someone who doesn’t respect or even acknowledge your boss’s existence.
There are always other people constantly trying to get the spotlight over themselves. Some like to do it by raising their game and sadly there are a lot of them who like to make themselves visible by putting others down. They like to confront, oppose and belittle other people’s ideas, even when they have very little to contribute.
When you are forced to deal with such people, you have to be prepared to stand your ground.
You do not have to confront them back and turn the discussion into an ugly personal battle but stand your ground if you are in disagreement.
Stick to plain old reasoning. Reason out, why their idea could be counter-productive for the team.
Restrict yourself to the issue and never make it about the person. Make yourself look like someone open to scrutiny and you are prepared to introspect and portray that it is one of your major priorities to take everyone on board.
Try to be as calm as possible. Whenever you float an idea, think about what questions you are likely to attract and be prepared to answer them. Never back down if you think you are right.
As always, be respectful, even if the other person chooses to make things personal, don’t get dragged down that path. Keep bringing them back to the issue on hand and ask them to tell you what is wrong with your idea.
You don’t have to back down unless you are wrong.
Feedback Is Your Best Friend
Sometimes, we all falter in our efforts. Sometimes, you would have done everything that would have been expected of you, and yet you might have fallen short.
In such cases, make sure you get some feedback from your boss. Make sure you know where you were found lacking and what do you have to do to make yourself stronger when the next opportunity arises.
Failure doesn’t mean you are not cut out for it. Never let disappointment get the better of you.
Get to know where you went wrong and what you have to do to get better.
Just refocus and keep your efforts going.
A positive attitude towards work and your promotion can sometimes be the difference between success and persistent failures.
Sometimes you might be reporting to someone who is not on par even with their subordinates and would be making everyone wonder as to how that individual got to the level at which they are. You would be a far better manager, a far better communicator, and even a far better thinker than your boss.
You would be wondering how your boss got to the level where he/she is leaving you complaining that despite being better than your boss, are stuck reporting to him/her, seeing your ideas being torn down. Don’t let thoughts of your boss’s capability hamper your plan towards your promotion.
Such thoughts would only deviate your thinking and distance you from your goals. These thoughts would do very little to you and will not help you other than taking you into a negative spiral.
So avoid negative thoughts, assessments, and judgments about your boss at all costs.
You might not have things going your way, you might not be working with the kind of people that you would want to be working with and you might not have anyone favoring you. But, these are all THE hurdles that you have to overcome to reach your goal.
You do not have a choice but to accept the fact that your boss happens to be a hurdle. Whether you think the person belongs in that position or not, he/she is in that position today.
It is your responsibility to find a way to prove yourself to your boss.
Your boss would have done something to prove to their manager that they deserve to be promoted. Now, if you have to earn a promotion, you have to do the same.
Look at ways to prove your mettle and stop wasting time feeling sorry for yourself or cursing your boss for all the negatives in his/her personality.
All the tips that you see here are something that you can use in most organizations. An organization that is true to its goals and a place where the best people are rewarded for their knowledge and skills, by allowing them to play a larger role in the company.
However, there are some companies with a toxic environment, toxic people and you would see more politics being played in those companies than by political parties in the country. Here, proximity to all influential people is valued more than an individual’s ability or intent.
If you find yourself in such an organization, around people who refuse to see your value, people who are not co-operative.
If you have tried most of these steps and you are still at the same hurdle, if you do not get valid reasons about why you are always overlooked, or if you have a boss who is never good with anyone, then it is time to look for other pastures.
The key is to explore all options first and give it your best.
However, if you don’t seem to find your way, you should be thinking of a future away from your current organization.
Get in Touch
Yearning for progress is what makes us all human. Get in touch with me to help you plan your next promotion.
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