Play your part to get promoted
3 things that might be sabotaging your chances
A lack of advancement can feel mystifying for veteran and/or highly productive workers.
Promotions are handed out for a variety of reasons, of course — some merit-based, some political, some for reasons that elude everyone. And while every workplace is different, there are still barriers that even the best employees self-impose that hinder their chances of moving up the ladder.
If you’re looking to reach the next rung of your career, make sure you’re not committing these common promotion sins.
You aren’t being proactive
How aware are you of the big picture at work? If you’re overly focused on the day-to-day tasks that are in your wheelhouse, you’re more likely to spend time with metaphorical blinders on. No matter your title, part of your job description is learning as much about your industry as you can so you can notice trends and anticipate changes that may shake up your company.
Use down time to be proactive about research within your industry and your company. Bring interesting findings to your managers and see what plans, if any, are in place to deal with potential challenges or take advantage of opportunities. Taking the initiative and becoming a valuable resource is likely to be noticed and could lead to you becoming an integral part of future projects.
If you’re stuck on ways to involve yourself beyond your normal assignments, schedule a meeting with your boss and lay it on the table: You want to broaden your work horizons. Sometimes the best way to get noticed is by telegraphing your intentions. And make sure you follow through and prepare yourself to possibly get your feet wet in other departments. Make yourself indispensable enough, and your promotion might be in the form of a job title created just for you.
You aren’t exuding confidence
The mentality of “fake it ’til you make it” goes a long way in the corporate world. Colleagues who may not be as proficient or as skilled as you are will be first in line for promotions or raises if they project a willingness to take on new challenges and confidence in speaking up. Too often, employees think they exude a “quiet confidence,” when in fact they appear aloof.
Reframe your mindset to see challenges as opportunities to learn something new or hone a skill.
And while you’re at it, monitor your physiological reactions. That sweaty palms feeling you get before a meeting or presentation? Think of it as your heart racing because it’s excited, not nervous. Even your posture and your wardrobe can have profound effects on the way you see yourself, and, therefore, the way others see you.
If you’re looking to move up the chain of command, think about the type of person you’d want leading you on a daily basis and then emulate that.
You haven’t asked
Don’t wait for your next annual performance review to pop the question. Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, the fear of rejection is very real.
But there’s never going to be a perfect time to ask, and if you’ve demonstrated that your value has outstripped your current title and salary, then it’s almost certain your boss has noticed too. Just be prepared to back up your proposition with data and clear examples that illustrate why you are due for the promotion.
Companies with excellent culture have more transparent boundaries between management and employees, so it’s entirely possible you could put out feelers with your boss about moving up the ladder in a more informal way.
Don’t hide your ambitions, but gather information that will help you determine if you’re in the right position to officially ask for a promotion. If not with your direct boss, then take up the conversation with another manager or executive that you trust.
Another way to gather information to make a more wellinformed pitch is to talk to the person leaving the position that you wish to attain (if that’s relevant to your situation). You’re like to get an honest picture painted of the expectations and realities of that job, and depending on your level of familiarity with the departing employee, you may be able to get a recommendation from him or her.
Asking for more, whether it’s money or a bump in responsibilities, doesn’t have to be something you dread. If you believe that the work you’ve done, the skills you possess or the time you’ve spent warrant a promotion, make sure you’re doing all the right things and be vocal about what you really want.
The worst that can happen is your boss says no. But getting on their radar might mean your name will spring to mind when the next opportunity comes along at work.
Jeffrey Pruitt is the chairman and CEO of Tallwave.