May it be executive level or people in the middle management level, we sometimes do have discussions with our candidates around this topic. As sometimes, even if a bit counter-intuitive to our role as search partners, the best advice for the candidate is to stay with the current company and try to grow within.
That being said, promotions usually don’t come overnight. It’s a process that involves more than just being good at your job. Of course, being good still matters. But if no one sees you being good at your job, you’re not going to get that promotion. If people see you, but they have trouble remembering your name, you’re not going to get it either.
Getting a promotion requires you to hone your social skills as well as professional skills. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It requires you to have the right attitude. And mostly, you can sum up everything you can sum it up in five steps.
1. Do a Great Job!
No way getting around this one – you need to be good at your job. Companies that let people who are not good at their jobs advance are not companies where you want to work. So you better be good. And you better have a high tolerance for clichés, because the next one will be something you should be repeating to yourself every day on your way to work. Ready? Here it goes:
“I have to give 110% today.”
The point is that you have to over-perform. You have to find a way to do your job either faster or better. Or both. But you need to give more than you’re expected, and you need to be doing it consistently.
2. Be Visible
You know that old Zen koan which asks you if a tree falls in the wood, and no one’s there to hear it, has the three indeed fallen? Right, so, don’t let yourself be like that tree. All the good work you’re doing is worth next to nothing to you if people don’t know who you are.
You’ll read a lot of advice telling you that you need to make your own brand in order to advance in your company. It’s sound advice, at least some of the time. Even though it sounds like one of those business-speak phrases people should never use. But it boils down to developing a good reputation within a company, and that’s not a phrase. That’s important, and it starts with people knowing who you are.
3. Build Lots of Relationships Within the Organization
This one goes hand in hand with increasing your visibility. It helps tremendously to have friends in high places, right? Especially when you know you’re good at what you do, and there’s a new spot open you’d be perfect for. So, being friendly with your boss, your boss’s boss, and your boss’s boss’s boss would be great.
But it doesn’t always work that way. People will get promotions while you’re building towards yours. People who you think have no influence over your path through the company’s hierarchy might be able to help. You never know how having a good relationship with someone can benefit your position in the company. So, if being at the very least nice to people around you isn’t already on your list of promotion-related priorities, get it in there. Close to the top.
4. Always Be Ready to Learn
If there’s one thing that makes a winning attitude, it has to be an openness to learning new things. This is true in all spheres of your life, not only the professional sphere. You should never be afraid of trying new things, and you should never miss a chance to learn something new.
When confronted with things that are currently beyond the breadth of your knowledge, don’t say “I don’t know that.” Ask how much time do you have to learn it. It’s a very simple idea that will not only help you get the new position you want – it will actually help you thrive when you get there. So above anything else, be open to new things and excited by learning. And don’t be afraid to show your excitement.
5. Be Honest and Accountable
If you do something go, take credit for it. It’s as simple as that. Don’t say it’s a team effort it wasn’t. On the other hand, if something was a team effort, make sure you pass the credit along to all the people involved. Never let people take credit for your work, and never take credit for anyone else’s work. Be honest, and play fair.
This also counts when things go bad. Don’t shift the blame around for something you did wrong, and don’t let anyone blame you for their own mistakes. Be accountable, and don’t get overwhelmed by your mistakes. Acknowledge them, and immediately start looking for a way to fix them. People make mistakes. If you want to be promotable, you need to know what to do when you make yours. And what you need to do is start working on a fix as soon as possible.