I want promotion!

One of my now ex-bosses once gave me a really great piece of advice, she said “if you want to be promoted, act like you already are”.

This does not mean start trying to be the boss in a literal sense, you’re just going to upset your colleagues, and likely your boss! But it does mean look at the responsibilities of the role you want. Are you already exhibiting the characteristics of that role, more importantly are you showing them every day. Remember, it’s not just the technical skills, but the mindset and character that you need to show.

Everyone it seems wants instant gratification in life, this is equally true of their work life. You don’t get selected for promotion just because you have been somewhere a long time. Your bosses will be looking for key skills and behaviors in you, that’s where you will shine and stand out from the crowd.

It is also pertinent to note that you need to vocalise your wishes. If you want a more senior role, tell your line manager (don’t rant to the team at large…this isn’t going to work!).

I have been fortunate enough to have excellent people in my teams. People that volunteer for the difficult or tricky projects, people that see the potential obstacles as challenges to take head on and defeat. This dogged determination if also key.

Learn, absorb and most importantly display every day, the skills and behaviors of the role you want. Make it known you want to progress, then take personal responsibility for your own progression.

5 thoughts on “I want promotion!”

  1. This assumes that your managers know what they are looking for in a more senior role; many may not.

    And it also presumes that your organisation has a structure that allows for promotion. In a world where “de-layering” has been a managerial objective for possibly fifteen or twenty years, there may be little scope for promotion until an opening becomes available.

    1. Both great points Robert. I think the key is your last one though, “de-layering” is certainly rife and to progress within your current company may not be achievable. But let’s be realists, sometimes to get the move you want you need to look outside the current organisation.

      I know there are many who love the company they work for, in which case leaving may not be the right thing for them. This is a more challenging situation, but could these individuals not look for horizontal progression rather than vertical? What else can you learn to broaden your skill set.

      In all cases there will be exceptions to any perceived “rule”.

      1. All very true, Andy – it will always be a matter of taking each case on its merits. I worked in the UK civil service for thirty years and became institutionalised to it and its ways. When I found that I was being effectively blocked for promotion, I became quite frustrated – in that situation, to move sideways would have required me to learn not just a new skill, but a whole new discipline from scratch (economics or accountancy) and I couldn’t see a way to do that in a reasonable timescale. I only realised that I had to leave when I applied for a role where I was able to demonstrate ability, only to be thwarted when the decision makers had effectively decided who they wanted to appoint from outside in advance of interviewing, and stuck with that decision despite being rather taken aback with my performance in interview, which they had not suspected (too blinkered a view of colleagues they weren’t dealing with daily).

        It took a major rethink of my life to break out of thirty years’ of institutionalisation and to consider doing something different. Although I had some very rough times in the following five or so years as a result of that decision, it’s really the best thing I’ve ever done and I don’t regret it, even though in some ways I’ve not really had any promotion in that time. But I am healthier and happier now than I was back in 2010, and that’s the important thing.

  2. This is literally how I do career development with my reports. Show that you can do the job and you can have it. It has other benefits too. People don’t end up in positions that overwhelm them and they learn to lead without relying on positional power. It’s more difficult when the career move entails learning a lot of skills that are not relevant in the current role but that’s difficult in any case.

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