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How to Get Promoted

Performing well in your current role is certainly central to being considered for a promotion.  More than personal relationships or seniority, promotions should be based on merit.  How do you show your current employer that you’re ready for additional responsibility? Here is what I recommend.

Be the hardest working person you know.

Working smart is great, but it may not be enough.  I’m not suggesting you should work long hours for the sake of it.   But, ask yourself, are you truly investing the time you should? Here’s how you’ll know: if you were to be made CEO of your company today, would you be satisfied with finding an identical replacement for your position?  Working hard is more than just completing the tasks assigned to you. It’s also about being passionate in what you do by working to improve your skills for both you and your company’s benefit and success.

Know where you are headed.

Remember that your career is never in neutral. You are moving in reverse, moving forward “accidentally”, or moving forward purposefully.  Have you created your career plan? If not, read my recent blog on career management.

Own your mistakes (and those of others).

Regardless of whether or not it’s “your” mistake, own it! Taking responsibility for a problem that you didn’t create is one of the fastest ways to gain visibility.  Likewise, being defensive or accusatory when you are part of an issue is a missed opportunity to show your leadership capabilities.  Care less about where the problem originated and care more about leading the solution.  And remember, you do not need to advertise every positive thing you do. Candidly, it may come across as disingenuous or self-promoting. It shouldn’t take long for your current employer to see and hear what you are doing to push things forward.

Add to the culture.

Either positively or negatively, you are always impacting the culture.  You job is to support the company’s growth objectives and to ensure your personal goals are being achieved.  Avoid contributing negatively to your company’s culture through gossip or negative conversations.  Not only does it not help the company, but it could impact your reputation.  Be aware that even your association with known culture assassins can impact the company’s perception of you.   Do surround yourself with people that are interested in being a part of solutions and avoid those that that seem to need drama to fuel their dialogue.

Learn from everyone; share your knowledge. 

When you have a genuine interest in sharing your experiences with others, regardless of your current role, it demonstrates your commitment to the company’s growth. And frankly, it’s just the right thing to do.  You should make it a habit to constantly seek out opportunities to learn and grow and help others do the same.   When you learn from someone, let them know. This reflects your willingness to invest in others and your openness to improving your own skills.

Be thankful.

At a time when so many companies are trying to differentiate their culture by showing flexibility in everything from work schedules to BYOD, the investment that a company makes to go above and beyond for their employees may be missed.  Does your company offer exceptional benefits, timely performance reviews, a mentorship program, a lunch ‘n learn series, investment in technology, etc.?  Yes, some of these things should be expected, but when a company works hard to ensure the guidance, resources, and support you are getting is not only consistent, but exceptional, I believe it should be recognized by you. Given the resources you need to do your job well and grow means more to me than a beanbag chair or a foosball table.

Have fun.

If you are not enjoying what you’re doing, you need to think about why. Is it the work you’re doing? Is it the company you’re working for?  Or is there another reason that you’re not satisfied?  Hoping things will get better is a losing strategy. Instead, take charge of the situation and evaluate why you are dissatisfied.  Be brutally honest with yourself rather than blame others.  Chances are, the issues are within your control so fix it. If they are not, maybe it’s time for you to make some decisions.  Whether you know it or not, your dissatisfaction will come through your communication and quality of work in ways you may not even realize.


So, here is my challenge to you. Review the list above and mentally checkmark the items you feel good about. For the ones you didn’t tick, you now know where you should immediately focus.  Let your company know what you are trying to accomplish, and what you are working on. Then, ask them if there is anything you should include in your plan.  Schedule regular follow-up sessions to share your progress. This will also create a placeholder for you to be made aware of future opportunities.

This is not an exhaustive list.  What else would you add?


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