Gone are the days that employees are "tapped on the shoulder" for promotion simply by showing up to work and not making waves. Employers want to see passion, leadership, a "what ever it takes" attitude and a solution-oriented team player poised for promotion. Today's work environment requires employees to do more with less and often perform work that was previously accomplished by two or three employees, and they want to see the work accomplished without whining, complaining or having a fit.
When we think of promotion we often only look up the organizational ladder and we neglect the value of the lateral move. Lateral moves, in which you move to a different area at a similar title or salary, can prove to be just as career enhancing and useful as vertical moves. Taking on a new role or new responsibilities will give you new skills and experiences, more information about the company, and a bigger network of colleagues. All of this will increase your value to the organization, and position you well for that vertical promotion.
Here are seven steps to getting promoted and landing that prized position:
1. Demonstrate a strong work ethic:
Know what others need from you, and deliver on time and accurately. If you are not sure, ask your boss and the people who count on you at work. The "powers that be" need to know that you are a dependable, "go-to person" and an expert in your area; master your position. Stay current in your area by reading articles, and noticing what competitors are doing.
2. Find a mentor:
Mentor relationships can be formal or informal. Mentors are people with whom you can talk openly and honestly about work-related issues. A mentor should be more experienced than you, and good mentors can point out your blind spots, offer suggestions, applaud your successes, and guide your career. Think about whom, besides your boss, might be open to spending time with you to help you grow. A mentor can also be instrumental in spreading positive press by championing your skills, talents and abilities throughout the organization to the right people.
3. Speak up!
Remember, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind!" Talk to your manager about your career goals - preferably goals that are attainable within your company. It's your career and you must take the reins and manage it! Promote your accomplishments in a fact-based way, but not in a bragging way. Also, when in meetings, lunches or hallway conversations, don't blend into the paint or the salad bar! Contribute something meaningful and relevant to the conversation; ensure that you are positively "seen and heard"!
4. Stay on the radar:
Show initiative by volunteering for projects, either within your department, on a cross-functional team, or a temporary job detail. Project work will give you an opportunity to gain more experience, showcase your skills to a broader group, expand your network and gain even greater name recognition. Remember, good managers are always on the lookout for talent. Your next lateral move or promotion could come from your excellent project contributions; you never know who is watching you!
5. Avoid petty gossip and office politics:
You must demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness; getting in the middle of office gossip is a sure way to derail your career. While it is important for your career to understand office politics, especially the unspoken rules, you must ensure that you don't get caught up in petty politics. Know the players, respect the players and even form appropriate alliances, but be careful how you play the game watching from the sidelines or from box seats is far less dangerous and can be profitable.
6. Present yourself professionally:
Envision where you want your career to be in a few years, and start living it, talking it and looking the part today! Dress for the position that you want, not the position that you have. In your written and verbal communications, make sure that you are professional, clear and concise. And by all means, don't be a clock-watcher! Taking the "down elevator" at 4:57 every day does not necessarily demonstrate a strong commitment to your position or your employer.
7. Stay the course:
It is said that Rome wasn't built in day. And even if you implement all of these steps immediately, you still may not get a promotion by the end of the week . but Stay the Course! While you are waiting for your promotion, you are building your skill base, expanding your network, and gaining confidence! You must demonstrate patience; after all, that's what leaders are made of!
If you incorporate these seven steps, exhibit your company's core values and competencies, and meet your performance objectives, you are positioning yourself favorably for that next position and making yourself an invaluable resource to your company. Who knows what could come next?