“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you greater than any obstacle.” ~Christian D. Larson
It is quite possible you have been frustrated, watching others at your level move up the career ladder while you remain firmly rooted in your current position. Chances are you are working very hard, but you are relying on others to take notice and offer you a promotion. It’s not going to happen.
My project manager client went into the promotion conversation on the assumption that his director knew him very well. Unfortunately, that was not enough to give him the position he was after. Someone else was able to articulate his value, and was promoted instead of the client.
Modesty has its place, but if you don’t learn to tell stories about yourself and take credit for your accomplishments, you will miss out on opportunities for promotion. Consider this situation: After being stuck in her position as an Assistant Manager in a bank for four years, one client said to me recently, “I am busy producing results. It’s my manager’s responsibility to promote me.” This was after the manager told her she needed to start speaking up and letting others know about her achievements.
How often does one hear a manager encouraging a direct report to speak up and brag about their achievements? Not often. In fact, one’s career trajectory is no longer the responsibility of a manager, the company’s HR or training department. If you are looking for a promotion, it is your responsibility to take charge and guide your career. The following career-enhancing strategies should help you win a promotion:
1. Start your conversation with facts and a well-thought-out plan.
Any conversation about a promotion must begin with facts and a well-thought out plan. Don’t assume everyone, including your manager, is aware of all that you do, so provide specifics about your successes. Refer to the notes you have been keeping and the comments and testimonials you have received. When you are able to provide evidence of your accomplishments, it increases your chances for a promotion.
2. Use the “vacuum theory” as a stepping stone.
The term vacuum theory, used in this context, has nothing to do with physics, but more to do with someone recognizing there is a job to be done and just doing it without being asked. You fill this vacuum by volunteering for the mundane tasks that no one else will do—work that is necessary, but might not carry any prestige. Jump in, fill that vacuum, and make a difference. Then, take the theory one step further and document what you have done. Your notes will become valuable in later conversations.
3. Ditch the negative self-talk.
Stop all the self-sabotaging conversations with yourself as these will stifle your chances of being promoted. Self-defeating, negative conversations such as, “Why should they promote me?” or “They already have someone in mind, so why bother?” or “What’s so special about me, anyway?” have no place in a promotion strategy. They keep you stuck. Focus your energies on your talents, abilities and contributions, and use them as leverage when discussing promotional opportunities with your manager.
4. Go the extra mile.
Not only should you continue to be absolutely amazing in your current role, but you need to go the extra mile where it’s never crowded. Your aim is to stand out. Become the “go-to” person; the one with the expertise that everyone turns to when they get stuck. Volunteer for assignments that are slightly outside your comfort zone; something that will stretch you, but gives you an opportunity to learn new skills or demonstrate your expertise. When you take on additional tasks and projects, it proves you are who you say you are, as well as who you want to be.
5. Develop a marketing strategy to get noticed.
You need to become visible to influencers. These are individuals who will be able to attest to your abilities. Now, do not interpret this act as kowtowing or brown-nosing. It is a way to bring awareness of your existence and contributions. The reality is that if you don’t toot your own horn, no one will know that you are coming.
How do you keep these influencers informed about your accomplishments? Identify projects you are working on and provide them with updates, especially if they have a connection to some of those projects. Share informative resources – audios, videos, books or links to articles – that would be of interest to them. This not only shows your unselfish nature, but showcases the quality and level of your engagement.
The above strategies will help you tell your stories, stand out and get the promotion you deserve.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock