A guest post by Bruce Harpham
Getting promoted at works increases your responsibility, power and ability to grow as a leader. When you are seeking your first management role, getting promoted is a mysterious process. If you are seeking an executive role, the process is even more challenging. This three-part strategy is built on timeless principles that will deliver results in all industries. With this foundation in place, you can ASK for a promotion!
Allies: Promotion Requires a Team
Promotion decisions are generally made with the input from many people. That’s why you need to build up a team of allies to help you gain promotion. Here are three specific allies you need to develop:
- Your Manager. A recommendation from your manager is often the single most important factor in winning a promotion. To get started, first observe your manager so that you can build a better relationship with her.
- Your Peers. Having a few of your coworkers testify to your trustworthiness and competence goes a long way to strengthening the case for a promotion.
- Other Departments. As a manager or executive, you will need professional and productive relationships with people in a variety of departments. Look for opportunities to do favors and treat these people well.
- Friends in High Places. If you follow Karin’s advice to go through an effective mentorship process, you are likely to develop a good relationship with a VIP at your company. Remember – “Mentoring, at it’s best, is a magical elixir which shaves years off your learning curve through mistakes unmade.” A VIP such as an executive or other high-ranking person can recommend you or give you advice to get ready for promotion.
Relationship development is a vital skill, especially as you move up through the management ranks. It is best to start small in developing relationships – sending one thank you card per week is a great way to start.
Skills: The Rule of Three For Promotion
Skills make the difference in delivering results in an efficient manner. In many professions, technical skills and subject matter expertise are the way into the door. At higher levels, leadership and communication skills take center stage. To land a promotion, you need to determine what skills are required. Use these skills to get control over your skills.
- Review three job descriptions.
Job descriptions are a valuable source of data in your pursuit of promotion. Choose a target job title (e.g. “IT Director” or “VP of Sales”) and then read three job descriptions. The goal is to find common ground of the different descriptions.
- Complete gap analysis for the three top skills.
Gap analysis is a way to draw a map from where to you are to where you want to be. In this case, where you are is your current job. Where you want to be is your target job title. Look into both hard requirements (e.g. must have a PMP certification) and other requirements for skills and experience.
- Validate your findings with three people.
Sitting in a room by yourself is necessary but not sufficient for promotion. You have to reach out to your network and ask for input. With the job descriptions and gap analysis in hand, reach out to three people to ask for their advice. Specifically, look for people who already have the job you want (Linkedin Advanced Search comes in handy here). You may receive validation for your idea or a brand new perspective.
Following the rule of three for skills development is an excellent way to focus your efforts. When in doubt, look for your skills you can develop over the next six to twelve months. In many cases, demonstrating a familiarity for the job’s subject matter and a commitment to continue learning makes a big difference.
Kill Your Bad Habits: What Got Here Wouldn’t Get You There
Have you ever noticed that you don’t need to think about your daily commute very much? That’s the power of habits. Habits also make a big difference in your work performance. If you seek promotion, then you need to avoid these mistakes.
- Lack of Punctuality. Showing up on time – especially at meetings – is a simple way to demonstrate your professionalism. Bonus tip: arrive early.
- Senior managers and executives have to act and make decisions – they cannot wait for perfect information to arrive.
- Personal Disorganization. Losing track of appointments and meetings is an amateur mistake. Learn how to lead yourself with Getting Things Done.
- Hiding Behind Email. As Karin explained, never assume they got the memo. In management roles, you need the judgement to use a variety of communication approaches including meetings, phone calls and conversations.
Take Action To Get Promoted
It is time for you to act to get promoted. Getting promoted at work means new challenges and excitement. Take a moment today to grow your allies – send a thank you note, buy a coffee for someone or simply listen to them. Relationships, skills and habits give you a great foundation for getting promoted.
Bruce Harpham, PMP, is the founder of ProjectManagementHacks.com, a career development resource. To reach your career goals faster, get your complimentary copy of the Career Advancement Toolkit by joining the Project Management Hacks email newsletter.