Article by Lisa M. Aldisert
I work with a manager who has a solid employee whom we’ll call Chris. During his annual performance review this year, Chris broached the topic of receiving a promotion. Chris does a good job, but frankly, it isn’t anything out of the ordinary. He works 9-5, does what is required, but never really goes that extra mile. He isn’t a mentor to junior team members. He rarely works late. He doesn’t apply strong critical thinking to his work and has missed some key opportunities as a result.
The manager asked why he felt he should have a promotion, and Chris responded, “Well, I’ve been doing this job for a long time.”
An employee who thinks he deserves a promotion just because he’s put in the time is misguided. The challenge, however, is that managers don’t always provide exact guidelines on how to achieve a promotion, so the route can be unclear. Every company is different, but the following advice should help you get you on the right track.
1. Avoid Entitlement
The biggest mistake people make when they’re trying to get a promotion is assuming they deserve it. An attitude of entitlement about receiving a promotion, even if it is deserved, is never going to work. A “give-me” monologue, without any substance to back it up, won’t convince anyone.
An attitude of entitlement may also drive you to fixate solely on the promotion, instead of on what you need to do to get it. When you think you’re so great that there is no doubt you will get a promotion, you are probably ignoring the feedback previously given to you about what it will take to get that position.
Another common misstep people make is bypassing their managers in order to kiss up to more senior leaders in an attempt to show off or demonstrate their value. This kind of behavior is always noticed, but not necessarily for the right reasons. This sneaky strategy will likely paint you as manipulative in the eyes of your direct manager, the senior leader, or both.
2. Know Your Why
It’s common to feel as if a promotion is the next logical career step and to start moving blindly in that direction without thought of what the promotion will mean. Before you lock your sights on a position, take time to identify what you want and why you want it. If you don’t know the why, a promotion just for the sake of a promotion may lead you down an unfulfilling path.
Examine your motivations. Are you looking for a better title, more money, increased power, career advancement, additional responsibilities, team management, a learning opportunity, or something else? How will the position satisfy your career desires, whatever they may be?
After you have identified your motivation, examine the position itself. Setting aside your desire for the title, consider the responsibilities of the job and how much time you will spend doing each of the tasks required. Is the job going to call for late nights? Will it spill over into weekends? Will you have to be on call? What additional skills does the job require, and which of those skills do you possess? Will you be comfortable with the new responsibilities of the job?
If, after a full assessment, the position and your motivations are aligned, it is time to take steps to get noticed.
3. Go the Extra Mile
People who put in extra hours, take on additional responsibility without being asked, and anticipate project needs will get noticed. You could even start doing part of your target job’s responsibilities before you get the position, provided doing so does not step on anyone’s toes.
One of my clients had an aspiring young employee who wanted a promotion to a position that didn’t yet exist. When his boss pushed back and said he wasn’t ready, the employee came prepared to his annual review with a list of tasks he was already doing that would fall under the position’s purview. The boss couldn’t argue, so the new position was created and the employee got the promotion.
4. Do Your Current Job Flawlessly
In your current job, you should aim as close to perfection as possible. If you’re functioning on autopilot or even neglecting parts of your job, you will give off the impression that your work is sloppy or you just don’t care. If you can’t shine in the position you currently have, why would a manager give you additional responsibilities? Doing your current job well is part of proving that you’re ready for advancement.
5. Ask for It
If you want the promotion, make sure your manager knows. Ask what you need to do to get the job, and then start doing those things. Even if you don’t get the role this time around, you will identify yourself as a potential candidate for future promotion opportunities.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Self-Promote
Remind your manager of all the outstanding things you’ve accomplished on the job. Don’t expect your boss to necessarily know how great you are. Plus, offering details of your achievements will help offset any perceived weaknesses you may have in your boss’s eyes.
Making yourself promotable takes time, strategy, diligence, and commitment. Don’t rely entirely on your own self-evaluation to prove your worth. Ask a trusted colleague or mentor for feedback, and listen to what they tell you. A little self-awareness will go a long way.
Act as if you’re already in the job you want — not the job you have. Acquire the skills you need. Take some of the load off your boss’s desk. Demonstrate creative problem-solving skills.
And, of course, remember to ask. It would be a shame to do all of this work and miss out because you didn’t let your intentions be known.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Dr. Lisa M. Aldisert is a speaker, author, and business advisor based in New York City. She is the president of Pharos Alliance. Her latest book is Leadership Reflections: 52 Leadership Practices in the Age of Worry.