Land Your Next Big Promotion With These Smart Strategies

So, you’ve reached that place in your career.

After years of hard work spent fortifying your skills and establishing your place and reputation within the company, you feel ready to rise to the next level.

As such … you’re eyeing that big promotion. You want it! And your mind is zeroed in on how to make it happen a.s.a.p.

Wait. Not so fast.

Having your eye on a prize promotion is great … if you’ve actually paused and reflected on two critical questions:

  • Is this promotion really the best move for me?
  • And, Am I truly ready for it?

I’ve worked with thousands of professionals during my career, and while I’ve definitely coached some of them to advocate for themselves more within their company, I’ve also encountered far too many employees and new managers itching for a big promotion (even feeling “entitled” to one) without really earning it. Or, without thinking through what obtaining that higher position will really entail once they have it.

Upward movement just for upward movement’s sake is not a wise professional growth strategy.

To that end, here are seven smart strategies to use when positioning yourself for that next big promotion:

Get clear on why you want the role.  

More money. More prestige. If these are your main motivators for seeking a promotion, please pause here. Mind you, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting either of those things. But, remember: After you receive the boost to your paycheck and more recognition around the office, you still have to DO the actual job you were promoted into.

I work with C-level executives in both publicly traded and privately owned companies, and I can tell you those roles aren’t as glamorous as they seem. With more money comes more responsibility, more complex problems to solve, more high-stakes pressure, and more scrutiny.

A sincere desire to tackle the actual tasks associated with the daily demands of the job you’re eyeing should be the  #1 motivator for seeking that role. This is especially important if you’re pursuing a leadership position. If team management isn’t something you’re truly interested in, a promotion that puts you in charge of other people probably isn’t the best path … for you, for that team, or for the company.

Clarify the unique contribution you want to make

In addition to wanting to do the established tasks associated with the position, what impact do you want to make in this new role? What can you uniquely bring to the job to elevate it (and the company) to next level?

One of my coachees wanted to build work environments where team members feel both psychologically safe and highly productive. In his new leadership role, he focused on that. Day after day. Another client came from a very poor background and became passionate about diversifying leadership and worked to level the playing field for professionals around the world.

When you approach your work with sincere passion and inspiration, believe me — it shows. The people above you and below you take notice.

Don’t act competitive

There is a powerful African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In the business world, this concept is known asrelational thinking. Basically, working cooperatively with people, not competitively working against them.

Reality check — times have changed. And, in today’s business culture, looking out only for yourself in the short-term or stabbing others in the back just doesn’t fly. Do people still do it? Yes. Do you want to work with any of those people? … Nope. I didn’t think so.

When eyeing a promotion, it’s easy to fall into an it’s-me-versus-them mindset regarding peers also being considered for the role. Resist the urge to one up them. Don’t take cheap shots at their work (even if you notice their shortcomings). Instead, actively collaborate with them and your other colleagues. Look for effective ways to support and forward company goals versus your own personal agenda. Trust me, those around you can easily tell who is looking out for the greater good and who is just watching their own back.

Play up your Linchpin skills

One of my favorite clients often talks about the value of being a “janitor” on the job — the person who steps up and tackles important yet unappealing tasks no one else wants. This is a wise move because the gaps not already filled often offer the best opportunity to prove yourself.

In the same vein, best selling author Seth Godin advocates for showcasing your Linchpin skills — those unique-to-you talents or abilities you bring to your work (or the work environment) that aren’t part of your job description. These, according to Godin, are the assets that make you indispensable. Perhaps you’re great at keeping teams rallied during stressful times. Or, you’re the one always in the know about the latest industry trends. Whatever innate skill you have a knack for, apply that talent to your current job to help distinguish yourself from peers who otherwise have the same technical skill set you do.

Fill in your own gaps  

In my work with upper management leaders, I’ve seen that they will rarely block a promotion because you’re not 100 percent a subject matter expert. However, theywill pass you over if you don’t earnestly demonstrate a desire to learn, face the areas you need improvement, and actively step outside your comfort zone to grow.

Before you assume you have all the skills needed to execute the job in question with excellence, ask higher management what you need to work on to get to the next level. And then dedicate time to filling those skill or knowledge gaps.

Make your boss (and the company) look good

Make yourself useful. Instead of just focusing on what you want and what youneed, take the time to understand what the organization, your peers, and your boss want and need. And then, go do it.

It’s human nature to look out for those who look out for us. So, have your company’s back. This doesn’t mean kissing anyone’s behind, but it does mean learning to speak the language and stepping into the mindset of those leading the company.

Ask if there’s anything your boss needs to help make his or her critical presentation to the board top notch. Share news about your company’s successes on LinkedIn (not just your own or those of your department). Act like you’re proud to work there. Demonstrate that you fit into the company’s larger mission.

Don’t obsess about the outcome

This sounds counter-intuitive but don’t fixate on getting this specific promotion. And, definitely avoid talking about it too much.

Be clear with your ask when you express interest in the position and state clearly why you believe you’re the ideal candidate. But, do not … I repeat: do NOT … badger your boss (or anyone else in the company) about it. Upper management is smart. They heard you the first time.

Besides, the more obsessed you get about the promotion, the more likely you are to disconnect from your current responsibilities, as well as your true passion (that energy that fuels you to enthusiastically work above and beyond the call of duty). Your task is to demonstrate your interest in the role and what you can deliver. Then, let it go and get back to doing your existing job with unprecedented excellence.

What if the promotion doesn’t happen?

If you decide the promotion in question really is a job you want for all the right reasons, I wish you the best of luck in winning that role.

But, if after following the strategies above, you don’t get the promotion, my advice is — don’t take it too personally. A lot of things can happen behind the scenes that have nothing to do with you.

Do your best to shake off the disappointment. Look for the lesson and understand where you still need to grow to ready yourself for the opportunity next time around.

Spend time really pondering what you heard (versus being defensive), and ask yourself how that feedback is TRUE. Then, if you truly aspire to step into that role (or one similar), do what it takes to make up those gaps.

Also, don’t talk trash about whoever received the promotion. While it can feel frustrating to see someone else promoted into a role you truly believe you’re qualified for, ready for, and deserve, the more you talk about it, the more you come across as annoying and a poor sport.

Ultimately, remember, if this opportunity passes you by, the world is big and full of other options.

This article originally published on LinkedIn

Categories: Career Happiness, Transition

Comments are closed.

Scroll Up