“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” ~ Alan Kay
Agnes asks: My day job has become so monotonous and predictable. I’m ready for greater challenges, but I’m not clear on when the next promotion opportunity will arise. I want to be prepared to seize the moment when it does, since I’m eager for a change. How can I do that?
Joel answers: It sounds to me like it’s time to promote yourself to the job you wish you had. The best way to set yourself up for a promotion to your dream job is to show that you’re already excelling at the work. If you find your current responsibilities boring, bigger challenges are definitely in order.
Increasing your responsibilities is all about good time management, whether you’re accepting a promotion or trying to prove you’re ready for one. Here’s a sobering fact: The 72-hour workweek is fast becoming the new norm, according to the Harvard Business Review. Here’s how you can prevent that from becoming your reality as you prepare to step into your new role.
- List all the things that need to get done in your current job.
Make a list of everything you absolutely must continue doing in your current role. These are the things that have value and require a skilled individual to complete them. If you follow through on these essential tasks, you’re free to take on additional projects.
- Create new systems for handling routine or low-priority tasks.
Many of us are spending a third or more of our time on tasks of lower importance. You might be able to stop doing some of these things altogether. They may no longer have value for the company, or a more efficient way of doing them may have emerged.Speaking of which: When it comes to those mundane tasks, it’s time to consider the merits of automation. By automating repetitive tasks, companies can free up their employees to spend more time on higher-level, creative responsibilities. Look for opportunities to adopt systems that can handle some of the routine tasks that don’t use your full potential, like scheduling meetings or replying to emails from new leads. Prepare to explain to your boss what you would do with your newfound free time. A smart boss will probably be excited about such solutions, and taking initiative to make processes more efficient demonstrates real leadership.If you can’t automate a task, outline your own system for how to do it. Block those lower-priority tasks into your schedule to make sure they don’t eat up undue time. When the moment comes, you can hand off your system to someone else!
- Prepare to pitch the high-profile projects you want to take on.
What got you here won’t get you to the job of your dreams. What high-visibility projects do you want to pursue in the new role you’re assigning yourself? Outline one high-profile project that excites you, and why you’re qualified to take it on. Pitch your idea to your boss with confidence. Starting with one will allow you to really shine, but soon you’ll be taking on more. Find out if your boss can invite you to a meeting with top leaders so you can sell your idea to them directly.
Enlist a team to carry out your project, if it’s going to take more than just you. Instead of waiting for your boss to assign people to it, talk with coworkers whose work you admire in advance. Ask if they’d like to jump on board. Soon you could be the leader of a crew of trusted colleagues who are most equipped to carry out the project together.
Take your ideas seriously. Schedule in time to reflect and hash them out on paper. As you gain visibility through high-profile projects, you’ll have more opportunities to pitch your ideas to leaders. Don’t miss an opportunity because you weren’t ready to present your idea to the world! And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn when you succeed.
Agnes worked to prove her capabilities by initiating one major project. About two months into it, her boss invited her to a meeting of executives so she could update them on its progress. She took the opportunity to pitch another idea she’d been preparing to unveil, and they loved it. A third project didn’t fare as well, but she kept moving forward so people wouldn’t associate her with that failure. She continued taking smart risks, and it paid off. She’s since been promoted to her dream job, a leadership position that lets her focus on projects that grow the company and positively influence its direction.
Stumped on how to reach the next level of your career? Contact Joel for more expert insight on how to unleash your leadership skills and get the promotion of your dreams.