There is no one way to get a promotion; sometimes it takes years, and other times it happens quickly—even before you’re ready.
Make your boss look good
Check in with your boss on a regular basis to ensure that your priorities and goals are aligned, putting both of you on the path to success. Meet deadlines while producing high-quality work. Take something off your boss’s plate and see that it is completed correctly. Work well with your peers and try to resolve interpersonal conflicts on your own so that your boss does not have to intervene or, worse, explain the conflict to their boss. Doing a good job and being a good teammate will make you and your boss look good, which may increase your chances of promotion.
Excel in your current role
It is difficult to advance if you are not performing well in your current position. I recall having a conversation with an employee who was dissatisfied with his current position and requested a promotion. I wanted to help him find a better job, but his dissatisfaction with his job caused a slew of issues, the most serious of which was underperformance. How could I promote him to a new position when he had let the company and his teammates down? I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t the message he or his peers needed to hear. Instead, he made a lateral move into a role that was more aligned with his skills and goals, and after excelling in it, we eventually promoted him.
Ask for feedback
It is critical for success to be able to solicit and act on feedback. Even if they don’t say it, your boss and teammates are likely to have feedback for you. Instead of waiting, ask for feedback by saying, “Is there anything I could be doing better?” And when you receive feedback, respond with grace and gratitude. Inquire, don’t be defensive, and take action. People who can take feedback and act on it are highly promoteable.
Be helpful and solve problems
If a teammate was having difficulty, talk through the situation with them and assist them in brainstorming solutions. If someone needed assistance meeting a deadline, I stayed late to help. If there was a difficult problem to solve, I worked with my team to find a solution. Nobody wants to work with a grumpy or negative coworker, no matter how difficult the situation. Keep problems off my boss’s desk, which he appreciated. If you want to advance in your career, always look for ways to assist your boss and coworkers. Be a problem solver who is both creative and proactive. Doing these things will make you the company’s go-to person.
Advocate for yourself
Make it clear to your boss that you want to advance in the company and that you have a well-thought-out career plan that you discuss with them on a regular basis. When you meet with your boss, make sure to tell them about your progress and how it benefits the team and the company. Ask your boss if someone higher up in the organization can mentor you, and build relationships with high performers throughout the organization to learn how they grew their careers. Well-executed self-promotion and self-advocacy are subtle, tactful, and extremely beneficial.
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