Questions about promotions often come up in my coaching conversations with my clients. The questions typically sound something like: “What should I focus on to increase my chances to get promoted?” or “I’m overdue for a promotion, but it hasn’t happened yet. What di I need to do to finally get it?”
What I tell clients is that one of the challenging parts of earning a promotion is that it's partially outside of your control. Organizational restructuring, office politics, company-wide promotional guidelines, economic outlook, and interpersonal dynamics all could affect your ability to get promoted.
However, I also tell them that you can take charge and sway the chances to your advantage, that the best way to increase your chances of earning a promotion is to become an invaluable asset to your organization, stand out from your peers, and be recognized for your contributions. And here are five ways to start doing that now.
1. Think "career" not "job"
We’re all so busy these days. But if you’re too busy to think about your career and take actions to advance it, you could end up stuck in your current position far longer than necessary. It’s tempting to let the daily grind take over day after day, hoping that at some point you’ll have time to prepare for your next position—or that it will naturally occur. The only way to break the cycle is to decide that career advancement is important and commit to giving yourself time to work on it on a regular basis.
2. Track your accomplishments
As an employee, your accomplishments are the currency you use to calculate your value to the company. Not only does tracking your accomplishments create concrete examples of the value you provide, but the tracking process itself will give you confidence. As you review all that you have accomplished and become aware of the progress you have made, you will become more comfortable telling others—in very specific terms—how you can provide value to the company.
3. Go beyond your comfort zone
Stretch your capabilities, take risks, go beyond your comfort zone. Although you may fear taking risks, it’s important to still do it. Maintaining the status quo and just being average allows others to pass you by regardless of talent or skill. Try to be consistently aware of opportunities in which you can try new challenges. As a doer who stretches beyond your comfort zone, you will be noticed.
4. Get support at all levels
Support is a valuable commodity in any situation, but it’s a necessity when you navigate the corporate landscape. Without it, you risk being stuck in your current position indefinitely, overlooked for promotion and passed by others who are well connected and better supported. And don’t make the mistake of limiting your search for support to those in positions above yours. Your peers and colleagues can be a rich source of feedback and assistance. Do you know someone on your level from whom you could request feedback? You'll probably get far different information from peers than from your boss and people at the highest level of the company. And this breadth of understanding will help you improve as you vie for a new position.
5. Communicate with a financial framework
Communicating from a strong financial framework is a common characteristic of today’s executive leaders. Today’s leading executives fully understand the financial goals and limitations of their companies. They also speak about most everything in terms of finances, including accomplishments, goals, and requests. And the higher you go in a company, the more bottom-line financial responsibilities you have. When speaking about professional or departmental projects and accomplishments, always include financial data, figures, percentages, and numbers.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.
Clive Boddy, a professor of leadership and organizational behavior at London's Middlesex University Business School, knows a thing or two about corporate psychopaths and bullies. Boddy has extensively studied the unfortunate frequency and traits of psychopaths and bullies, and he himself has been bullied by a corporate psychopath at work.
Everyone starts off at the bottom when they first begin working, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to stay there forever. Right now, you might be just a low-level technician who repairs the office fax machine, but one day you’ll want to move up the corporate ladder and be the IT manager or even the CTO of your firm.