“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.”
~ Margaret Cho ~
Rosie has been with her company for a little less than a year. Last month she had a very positive performance review with Jake, her immediate boss. During the review, Rosie told Jake that she felt she could handle a bigger workload, and Jake seemed to agree, but nothing happened.
Yesterday Rosie found out that Jan, a co-worker with the same job title she has, was promoted—and it’s been only a year since her last promotion. Rosie knows Jan earned it, but now she’s wondering how to ask for a similar opportunity to prove herself. Rosie wonders if she should have been more aggressive in her review with Jake and in following up afterward. Of course Jan’s promotion is unrelated to Rosie’s performance, but now Rosie wants to ask for larger-scale projects and more important work without seeming like she’s jealous or resentful of Jan.
If, like Rosie, you’re feeling stifled at work and would like to take on more responsibility and get promoted, Step One is to share your aspirations openly and specifically with your boss. Don’t be shy. Ask your boss exactly what you need to do to get promoted. The more clarity you have on the specific steps you should take, the easier it will be for you to take action and achieve your goals. Over the next three to six months, schedule time every two to four weeks to discuss your progress.
Here are some of the questions Rosie asked Jake:
- How does the promotion process work?
- What do I need to be doing over the next three to six months to get promoted?
- What kind of data or information can I provide you to document my progress?
- What larger-scale projects can I own right now?
- Do I need to increase my visibility with other decision-makers to improve my chances for promotion?
When it comes to visibility with other company leaders, especially C-level managers, Jake had some specific suggestions for Rosie. In addition to taking on larger scale projects, Jake suggested Rosie look for projects outside her own specific area, particularly projects that were being neglected or that no one wanted to do. Completing an “orphaned” project successfully is a great way to gain visibility. Jake also suggested that Rosie look for one or more advocates, either inside or outside the company who would be willing to speak up on her behalf. An advocate can easily raise your profile with your boss’s boss and other high level executives by publicizing your successes.
Rosie took Jake’s advice and developed her game plan. She volunteered to head up the company’s web site revamp—a project that had been languishing for a year for lack of leadership. She completed it successfully in less than three months, and both Jake and her recently recruited advocate made sure everyone—including the company president—knew what she had done. It was no surprise that Rosie got that coveted promotion at her next performance review.
If you’ve been passed over for a promotion, or even if you’d just like to take on more challenges where you are, now is the time to act. Develop a list of five actions you could take immediately to improve your visibility. Then schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss them.
Talkback: Have you successfully improved your visibility in your company? How did you do it? Share your experience here.
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“Successful people turn everyone who can help them into sometime mentors.”
~ John Crosby ~
Virginia is hoping to be promoted soon. She approached me to find out what she can do to increase her chances of getting the position she desires.
As I told Virginia, there is one thing you can do that is so important, you are practically shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t do it.
Studies have shown that a mentoring relationship with an influential individual can increase your chances of being promoted by more than 80 percent. So if you don’t have a mentor, it’s time to get one now.
A mentor can help you understand the culture and inner workings of the organization. He or she can work with you to create career plans, improve areas of weakness, provide honest feedback and introduce you to other supportive people.
Katherine Klein, a Wharton management professor, says that mentoring is “a sounding board and a place where it’s safe to be vulnerable and get career advice. It’s a relationship where one can let one’s guard down, a place where one can get honest feedback, and a place, ideally, where one can get psychological and social support in handling stressful situations.”
Klein adds, “Mentors also should have an understanding of the organization’s values, culture and norms so they can pass these along to mentees. The mentor should be sensitive to the mentee’s needs and wishes, and enhance the mentee’s career potential, while simultaneously looking for ways the mentee’s potential can benefit the organization.”
Often, when initiating the mentoring relationship, you may feel like you are invading your mentor’s space and time. You may be hesitant to reach out and ask for help. However, the mentor also gains from the relationship; says Klein “You get the satisfaction of seeing somebody develop. And don’t forget that mentees may be in a position to help the mentor at some point.
“Mentees may also make the mentor look good.” Terri Scandura, a management professor and dean of the graduate school of the University of Miami, says, “Dealing with a person who is your junior improves your network. Mentors know more about what goes on in lower levels when they deal with mentees. Junior people can provide information to mentors…. [They] are up on the latest technology and knowledge. So it’s an interactive process: Mentors and protégés become co-learners.”
Here are some tips for selecting a mentor:
1. Choose someone you (and others) respect.
Identify an individual who you admire who has accomplished things you hope to accomplish some day.
2. Your mentor should have influence and power in the organization.
This, along with their knowledge, experience and competence, will help to open doors and introduce you to other influential people in the organization.
3. He or she is willing to invest time and is committed to your success.
Look for a respected person who is your senior and is willing to invest time in – and take responsibility for – your success and development. Likely candidates are executives with a reputation for helping others succeed.
4. Good mentors ask tough questions and hold you accountable.
Honesty and trust are critical in a mentoring relationship. He or she will offer constructive criticism when necessary, but will also take joy in your triumphs. The situation is considered ideal when both individuals – the mentor and the mentee – learn and grow as a result of the relationship.
5. Work with a mentor who is positive and enthusiastic.
Your goal is not just to learn from a mentor, but to be inspired. A good mentor is upbeat and optimistic. If you’re energized and raring to go after meeting with him or her, you’ll know you’ve selected the ideal person!
Are you ready to take action to make that next promotion happen? Sign up for Joel’s Career Advancement Coaching program and learn exactly what you need to do to take your career to the next level.
Talkback: Do you have a mentor? How did you find him or her? Do you have any tips to add for our readers?
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“The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.”
~ Ayn Rand ~
Tammy is good at her job, but her career doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. She has been in the same position for two years and is ready to move up to the next rung of the ladder. One of her co-workers was just promoted to the position she wanted, and now she wonders if she will be stuck in her current position forever.
Getting a promotion requires more effort than merely doing your job and being good at it. Supervisors want to see that you are qualified for the new position, not the one you are already doing. You must stay alert for opportunities to advance or to move laterally to broaden your skills and position yourself for future success.
If you are like Tammy—good at your job but not quite ready for a promotion—here are five tips to help you get out in front of your competition so you are the first person your supervisor thinks of next time there is an opportunity for promotion:
1. Express Your Interest
Let your supervisor know you’re ready for new challenges and want to play a role in any expansion efforts. As companies look for growth opportunities, they will form task forces, study teams and interdepartmental committees. Tell your boss you want to be a participant, not a bystander.
2. Stay on Top of Current Events
Stay alert of your company’s growth plans by reading its news releases and annual and quarterly reports. Get copies of executive speeches and reports from investment firms that follow your company. Then brainstorm how you and your skills can contribute to the success of these ventures.
3. Write Your Own Marketing Plan
If you see an opportunity to market a new product or service, grow your company’s existing portfolio or increase client service, create your own marketing plan. Do your homework, crunch the numbers and write up a proposal to present to your boss or senior management. Even if you fail, you’ll reap dividends from the exposure and gain the reputation that you want to play a bigger role in the success of your organization.
4. Take Advantage of New Training
As companies loosen their purse strings, they’ll also be investing more in training and development. Visit with your supervisor or human resources department to find out what new skills you need to improve your effectiveness and promotability.
5. Network, Network, Network
Keeping your nose to the grindstone is admirable, but it will also pay to get away from your computer and stay actively involved with your network. Keep on top of what other departments and divisions are doing, what their plans are, and how you might fit in.
As your company gears up for growth, find ways to increase your visibility and to showcase your talents to decision-makers in your organization. When in doubt, look for problems to solve. That’s one of the effective ways to get noticed, appreciated and promoted!
If you really want to move up the career ladder quickly, a top-notch executive coach like Joel Garfinkle can help you reach your goals twice as fast. If you’re serious about getting ahead, sign up for executive coaching with Joel today.
Talkback: How long have you been in your current position? Are you ready for a change? What do you need to work on to position yourself for your next promotion?
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“Financial rewards follow accomplishment; they don’t precede it.”
~ Harry F. Banks ~
A client of mine, Lance, has been with his company for ten years. He works hard and gets his work done. Management knows he is consistent, reliable, and loyal. They’re happy with the status quo. Unfortunately, my client is not.
He is ready to make the change. He’s tired of being taken for granted. He wants to get paid appropriately and get promoted. So he must overcome his current perception as a “reliable workhorse.”
If you’re like Lance, you can’t just hope that you’ll get the reward down the road for all your hard work. Instead, you must take control of your career and stop hiding out.
Here are some tips to get you started if you’re not sure how to go about getting a promotion at work:
1. Make a list of all the things you accomplished in the last year.
For each accomplishment, try to assign a dollar amount on how it benefited the company. That way you’ll be able to prove your worth during your next performance evaluation or salary review.
2. Proclaim your achieved results.
If you get good results and your clients like your work, it’s important to spend time proclaiming the achieved results. Even if it takes longer to document the results so the key people in management see what it took to get the results (effort, steps, process, details, etc.), they will appreciate who you are and what you have accomplished. The key is to not wish for more recognition, but to start being an incredible advocate for yourself.
3. Make your results more perceivable.
Your results will become evident when they are communicated in an easily understood way. The more the break down the result into its many parts, the perceived value will be seen as higher.
4. Know how you are being perceived.
Every time you communicate, think about how are you will be perceived – in meetings I attend, emails I create, conference calls, interact with client or upper management.
5. Be seen as a valuable resource and get others to appreciate what you do.
Your company needs to know all the things you do and how each accomplishment provides something that benefits the company. If they don’t see the value in what you are doing when you communicate it, it isn’t relevant. The more they know, the more they appreciate the work you do.
6. Stop perpetuating the perception management has of you.
Make a list of how you are currently being perceived by top management and your peers. For each negative perception, write down how you would like to be viewed. Then, carefully monitor your behavior at work to make sure you are reinforcing the positive traits, while deemphasizing the negative ones.
7. Educate your management about what you do and what your position is in the company.
Often management just sees your position as a commodity that is replaceable. They take what you do for granted. Educate management about how valuable your position is and all the things you do in making your job work as well as it does. As you educate them, they will begin to alter how they view the entire position (e.g. marketing, sales, programmer, and project manager) of what you do.
8. Become a communication expert.
Communication skills are one of the most important skills considered when determining who will be hired or promoted. Joining Toastmasters is a good way to improve your communication skills and get used to addressing groups of people with confidence.
9. Constantly think about how management will value what you just did.
How will management value this? How will management hear this so they will recognize it contributes to the bottom line?
10. Stretch yourself to be different so you stand out.
Management is used to you being who you are. Stretch yourself in ways that can impact perception. If you are used to being quiet at meetings, speak up. If you speak up at meetings, hold back and only speak when you have something really important to say.
11. Get clients to share how great you are.
When you do something positive for a client, ask them to speak up on your behalf by writing what they appreciate and then sharing this with your management. You can explain how management isn’t fully aware of the work you are doing so it would be good for them to know what you did. If you can do this 4-6 times a year, it will start to influence how management views you.
If you’re ready to start working on that next promotion but aren’t sure how to proceed, Joel has a coaching program that can help. Sign up for Joel’s coaching for career advancement and implement the techniques Joel teaches to accelerate your career growth.
Talkback: Is it time for you to move up to the next level in your career? What steps will you take to make it happen?
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“You were hired because you met expectations; you will be promoted if you can exceed them.”
~ Saji Ijiyemi ~
Denise has been a team leader for an IT company for the past year. Now she wants to move up.
“I had my eye on the manager’s position. I knew he was thinking about relocating to be near his sick dad,” Denise said. “I wanted that job, but I wanted to make sure I knew how to ask for the job promotion the right way.
Denise stepped back a little so she’d have the greatest chance of success.
1. Evaluate Yourself: “I stopped to evaluate how well I was doing as a team leader,” Denise said. She looked at her past reviews to see if she’d made the improvements suggested and met the company goals for her. Had she given value to the company?
2. Observe the Job You Want: Then she started looking more carefully at the manager’s job. What exactly did he do? “I saw he had much more responsibility moving the project to completion,” Denise said. “I started looking at all the factors that led to this—how he scheduled meetings, how he interacted with the team leaders. I looked at the paperwork he processed and the hours he kept.”
3. Act the Part: “Then, to the best I could, I tried on the job,” Denise said. “I put in the hours he did. I tried to connect with my team and motivate them in an effective way to help our numbers improve.” To her best ability—without stepping on anyone’s toes—Denise acted the part of the manager. She volunteered to take on some of his responsibilities.
4. Prepare your Benefits: Now Denise needed to prepare her presentation. She gathered the data that showed her value to the company. She listed the successes of her team. She got feedback on her performance from peers, subordinates, and bosses. “If I was going to ask for the job promotion, I needed to be prepared,” Denise said.
“I went one step further,” Denise said. “I wanted to be sure I asked for a competitive pay rate, if I got the job. So I researched Salary.com to see the range of salary I might expect.”
5. Set up the meeting: Denise didn’t want to just walk into her boss to discuss the promotion. She asked for a meeting. She wanted his undivided attention. She knew he was grumpy before his second cup of coffee, so she tried to schedule it later in the morning. “I told him I wanted to discuss my performance and benefit to the company,” Denise said.
6. Sell Yourself: You are not there to beg for a job promotion. Your job is to convince your boss, the company will get so much value for you they will want to offer you the job promotion.
Have your facts and figures lined up. “I have a hard time tooting my own horn,” Denise said. “So I really tried to have everything laid out visually so the work would speak for itself.”
7. Back-up Plan: For Denise, her plan worked and she got the promotion. But she had a back-up plan. “I decided if they said no, I’d ask what I needed to do to be qualified for that promotion or another one,” Denise said. “What was holding me back, and what skills or abilities did I need to have so the next time I came and asked, I’d be successful.”
Like Denise, once you know how to ask for a job promotion, you can start taking the steps to that next job. Be confident your skills and abilities match the job you want. Then go in and ask for that promotion.
Call to Action: If you want that new promotion, but need a coach to walk you through these steps to insure you’re totally qualified, contact Joel.
Talkback: Have you asked for a job promotion? What things helped you the most?
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