As much as everybody would love a promotion, the fact is that it can be quite a daunting process, and many people give up just because they don’t know how to get it.
Remember that nobody cares about your career as much as you do. Well, except maybe your worrisome parents. The truth is that nobody (not even mom) is going to pave the path to your promotion for you.
In order to get picked for that open chair in the bigger office, you need to raise your hand and show that you’re interested. But before you raise your hand, you’ve got to go above and beyond to get recognised for what you’re worth in the workplace.
So again, how do you know if you’re ready for the challenge?
GetSmarter, an online education company specialising in short courses for working professionals, suggests asking yourself these 5 questions to help you figure it out.
1 When was I last promoted?
Never – The first step towards your first promotion is surprisingly simple: take advantage of any “stretch opportunities” that come your way.
Try this: Get out of that comfy comfort zone and say “I’ll take care of it” the next time a challenging task lands on the table – even if you have no idea where to start.
- 6 Months ago – It is probably a bit soon to be gunning for another one. Instead, start focusing on strategically laying the groundwork for your next move up.
Try this: Actively work towards increasing your skill set, and start formulating a succession plan so that someone can replace you when you’re ready to move on up.
- A year ago – Your timing’s not too bad – you should be aiming for a promotion every 18 months, but if you feel ready pursue it sooner rather than later.
Try this: Learn a new skill and (subtlety) show it off – one that’ll be beneficial for the role you’ve got your eye on. Keep working on that succession plan.
- 18 Months ago – Your timing is pretty much perfect as you should be aiming for a promotion every 18 months.
Try this: Start tracking the success metrics used in your company and your direct impact on those numbers. It’s not bragging – you’re just showing your contribution and commitment.
2 How often do I speak up in meetings?
- Almost never – Promotable people don’t hold their tongues! Especially in meetings with senior or executive staff.
Try this: If you’re not comfortable adding your own opinion to the conversation, ask an insightful question instead – it’ll confirm that you’re engaged.
- All the time! – Uh, be careful… You don’t want people to think you’re too fond of the sound of your own voice…
Try this: If you’ve got something to say that’ll add real value to the conversation, try and communicate it concisely and compellingly, for maximum impact.
- When I have something valuable to add – A thoughtful approach is always good! Just remember, people who get ahead don’t wait for an invitation to speak.
Try this: If you don’t have anything to add, make sure you confirm that you’re engaged in the conversation. Agree with a colleague’s point of view, or ask a sharp question.
- Once or twice per meeting – Perfect! If you want to get ahead, you can’t afford to wait for an invitation to speak.
Try this: Keep it up! If you feel you don’t have anything worth adding, make yourself heard by engaging with what others are saying.
3 What does influence in the workplace look like to me?
- Authority over others – There’s a fine line between effective influence and forced authority. To win the respect of your colleagues, you need to redefine the way you see influence.
Try this: Successful people build influential relationships with both their superiors and their peers, so remember to win over your team while you’re winning over the boss.
- Superior skills or expertise – Sure, your skills and expertise will help you gain influence in the short-term, but how will you maintain that momentum into the future?
Try this: Share what you know with others. Don’t just care about your own ongoing self-education and professional growth, but also the growth of those around you.
- Powerful people by your side – Influence is about networking. Connections are useful if you’re gunning for a promotion, but remember to show you can stand on your own two feet.
Try this: Show your ability to act independently by taking the initiative to execute on an important task, or improve a process, without being asked.
- Inspiring others to action – Powerful people promote those they’re inspired by, so if you focus on developing influence in your current role, you’re on the right track.
Try this: When interacting with your colleagues, give them your undivided attention. Motivate and energise those around you – being an activator is more powerful than you know.
4 Am I a team player, or more of a lone ranger?
- A team player – Teamwork makes the dream work! Are you ready to take that highly promotable attitude to the next level?
Try this: Start proactively identifying and solving challenges facing your team. If you have a solution that’ll help everybody work more efficiently, speak up!
- A lone ranger – Success is totally a team sport. Yes, being independent is good and you should be trying to set yourself apart, but greatness isn’t achieved in isolation.
Try this: Help out a teammate who needs a hand. Freely share credit. The more you look out for your colleagues, the more they’ll look up to you.
5 Which of my strengths and skills do my colleagues value most?
- My creativity – Creativity is infectious, and you probably add tangible energy to any meeting, project, or team you’re a part of.
Try this: Don’t lose momentum when it comes to turning your ideas into action. Promotable people don’t just develop the idea, they also execute.
- My vision – It’s true that without strategy, execution is aimless… But it’s also true that without execution, strategy is useless.
Try this: Don’t just devise the strategy. Walk the talk by implementing, adapting, optimising, executing, and refining a project.
- My management – The ability to set up and improve processes is a major asset to any team. But if you’re wanting to move up, don’t just set up the project plan and leave it at that.
Try this: Seek out opportunities to branch out and show off your skills in more creative areas. Get your hands dirty by helping develop the idea, devise the strategy, and execute it.
- My execution – Success starts with strategy but ultimately ends with execution. Sounds like you’re on the right track to a promotion!
Try this: Demonstrate not only your killer execution skills, but also your ability to revise, and refine. Make great work happen based on what works in practice, not in theory.
GetSmarter partners with top-tier Universities to present career-focused online short courses, postgraduate programmes, and professional accounting programmes. Visit www.getsmarter.co.za.
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