How to land that promotion
Want to move up the ladder? Don't be afraid to try something different and take on more work. (Shutterstock)
There is no definite path to getting a promotion at work, if there was then there wouldn’t be anyone left to deal with all the data-entry and espresso machine cleaning. There’s more, too: you don’t have to be an anti-social dullard who is solely interested in staring at a computer all day. You were employed by your company because the manager either liked something about you, or liked your potential, so it’s up to you to show what you can do.
You want that promotion, right? Then say so!
Stand up, stand out, and take on more
“Tim who? Oh, the quiet guy, no he doesn’t stand out”. Poor Tim, he’s just missed out on that promotion because all he did was turn up to work every day, did what was expected of him, and went home at 6pm. What’s wrong with that, you may ask. Technically nothing, Tim has gone into work every day, done his job, and gone home. But is that a good enough reason for promotion? Not really, that’s what he’s paid to do. If he really wanted that promotion then he could have worn a brighter tie or, more importantly, been more vocal and willing to take on additional work.
By taking on work normally carried out by his boss, for example, then Tim would have been the ideal person to promote because, obviously, he would already have a good idea about what’s involved. Don’t be afraid to try something different in order to stand out from the rest, and nothing will make you stand out more than taking on the bosses boring work!
There’s an old saying in the corporate handbook: It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Translated, this means that Tim should not be afraid to take a calculated risk at work, as opposed to scheduling a meeting with his boss and asking for permission to do something. Employers want to know that their employees aren’t afraid to think for themselves.
If Tim is too nervous to take a chance then he’s not cut out for that promotion anyway. In the real world there is no time for Mr. Nicey Nice and his middle-of-the-road CD collection.
Getting noticed is a big part of getting that promotion, and nothing will get you noticed more than a calculated risk. And we use the word “calculated” with intent here; scaling a tight-rope between two skyscrapers is not going to help you to climb the greasy corporate pole.
Look at this article as an example, it was a risk writing it in this style; and we’re yet to find out whether the Editor likes it or not! If your risk pays off then you’ll be heralded, and if it goes wrong then you’ve made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t be afraid to show that you’ve got the nerve.
Offer solutions, not problems
There are two types of employee who speak up; those who highlight problems, and those who offer solutions. Which do you think an employer prefers? Anyone can look around and identify a problem, but equally anyone can offer a solution, it just requires a degree of thought. Instead of telling his line manager that the photocopier is broken, Tim could call the maintenance man himself.
Your solutions don’t have to resolve problems for the United Nations; regardless of scale they will showcase your ability to think logically.
Sit in the driver’s seat
Leadership is a quality that all employers look for when promoting. It’s not always easy to demonstrate your outright leadership skills, and if Tim had started bossing his colleagues around then he would have been as popular as a wasp at a picnic.
To catch the boss’s eye, he could show his softer skills more often. Communication and social intelligence are traits that can’t be taught in any degree, and if he had not been afraid to lead group discussions then maybe that promotion could have been his.
There is no office in the world that is void of office gossip or people who spend a sizeable chunk of their day complaining about their co-workers or how the company is run. Morale is a massively important factor for any successful company, and if Tim was ever over-heard being negative then it’s no wonder he was overlooked for promotion.
Complaining, gossip, and negativity are three things that will see poor Tim either overlooked or asked to leave, especially if a rival co-worker decides to use anything against him. If only he’d been a bit more positive.
Move with the times
The worst words in the corporate lexicon are “it has always been that way”. Times change, attitudes change, and business needs change. If Tim wants another shot at promotion then he needs to realise that his employers are looking for flexibility and a willingness to embrace change.
If things never changed then mankind would still be living in caves, and that just won’t do. Tim needs to demonstrate that he can embrace change, accept new ideas, and even show flexibility with his working hours. All employers love to see a spot of open-mindedness.
Keep it personal
Getting along with co-workers is important; you don’t want to be “that guy” who sits by himself at lunch, unwilling to make friends. But it’s important to draw a line somewhere. Allowing personal issues to spill over into the workplace can decimate morale, keeping that balance will show him in a far more focused, and reliable, light.
Tim, like most of us, has his share of personal problems. Whether that’s an errant child or gold-digging ex-wife, his personal problems should be kept just that: personal.
Blow your own trumpet
Everyone has potential, and more often than not a lot of it goes unrecognized. Quiet old Tim sat there at his desk every day, doing his job, knowing full well that he was capable of so much more. As his application for promotion was thrown in the bin, he surely must have been lamenting keeping his confidence to himself.
There’s a difference between being cocky and being willing to prove your potential, and in a lot of cases it is hard to tell the difference. To prove his potential, Tim should have told his manager that he was prepared to take on a specific task, or indeed could have asked what he could do to prove it. Just walking around the cafeteria with his plumage on display wouldn’t have worked at all.
Know your Emotional Quotient
How well did Tim respond to criticism of his work do you think? Did he accept it and consider it educational, or close up and brood angrily? When he was angry at work, did he know why? Was he happy with his work and refuse to believe that it could be improved? Did he shy away from speaking his mind or from confrontation?
There is no one “ideal” when measuring ones emotional quotient, but learning to control your emotions and understanding your thought process is great for personal development. Your EQ itself won’t be of any interest to your employer, but if you can’t control your emotions when things aren’t going well then that will drastically lower your stock.
A question of loyalty
Poor Tim, he’s not having a good day, is he? He missed out on that promotion and now he’s having his character torn apart. Well it gets worse. Tim has worked for his company for five years, and indeed he has proven his loyalty, but in that time he has not moved up the company; why? Well, being at a company for a long time – as a lone factor - is not grounds for a promotion.
Certainly loyalty is usually considered when an employer is looking to promote, but you’re relying on your boss being as loyal to you as you are to them; can you take that chance? It wouldn’t be advised. Never “trade on your loyalty”, it takes much more than just that to move up the ladder.
By Martin Fullard
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