How do you get the process going?
Do your job – plus
Employees sometimes believe they should be promoted based on automatic factors, such as seniority, doing their job on a consistent basis, or even popularity. In truth, you will not be promoted unless you are deemed promotion-worthy by your superiors. That will mean that you will have to stand out in some way.
It will not be enough to simply do your job every day, it will be much more about what it is that you do in addition to your job. That usually means taking responsibility that is beyond your job description. That can involve taking on difficult tasks or volunteering when a major assignment comes up that no one else wants.
It can also be establishing yourself as a problem solver. When there is a problem in your department or in your company, who is it that the staff and even management turn to? If it isn’t you, you shouldn’t expect to be promoted.
Schmooze with the brass
We just mentioned popularity as a reason why employees expect to be promoted. While that’s not generally a factor – or at least it shouldn’t be – sometimes it is. But you have to differentiate between being popular with your coworkers, and being popular with the decision-makers.
If your bosses boss hardly knows you, and his boss doesn’t even know your name, there’s not much chance to be promoted. Whatever it is you have done in your tenure with your employer is not reaching the higher-ups. Sometimes that happens because you haven’t done anything noteworthy, but other times it’s because you haven’t spent enough time with management.
If you want to be promoted, you’ll have to make that effort. Schmoozing with the brass doesn’t mean fawning over them, but it does mean making yourself known at company functions, at extracurricular activities, in meetings, and especially when input is sought to deal with problems.
The more people above you in the pecking order who know you and know you well, the more likely it is that you’ll be promoted.
Become a problem solver
This may be the single factor that sets you up for promotion more than any other. Every employer has problems that they need to deal with. You probably heard it said if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. Take this to heart, and become part of the solution wherever you can.
This isn’t about being an “eager beaver”. It’s about recognizing and understanding that your boss and her bosses face challenges in the business, and doing your part to help them solve those problems.
Your purpose shouldn’t be to solve every problem in the department regardless of how small it is. That will only waste time, spread you too thin, and it might even come across as if you’re trying to win a popularity contest.
Save your problem-solving efforts for major tasks, the kind that will make a difference and get you noticed by the higher-ups.
Let it be known you want to be promoted
This can be a case of overlooking the obvious. If you never let your superiors know that you would like to be promoted, they may take your silence as an indication that either you’re not interested in being promoted, or that you are not motivated to make the effort.
This doesn’t mean you should go around poking your superiors on a regular basis letting them know you want the next promotion. But once or twice a year you should have a serious face-to-face meeting in which you indicate that you not only want to be promoted, but you expect to be.
It could be a dangerous strategy, but from time to time you may also want to drop some hints that you are talking to competitors about higher positions. Sometimes the only way an employer notices a promotion-worthy employee is when they realize that they have market value outside the company.
It could get you fired. But you also get you promoted.
Do you have other ideas on how an employee can get promoted?