The secrets of winning your next promotion, by John Lees, career coach and author of How To Get A Job You’ll Love and How To Get The Perfect Promotion.
Are you wondering why you didn’t win that promotion? If so, don’t try to reinvent the wheel – follow where others have gone before you. While researching what gets people promoted, I asked more than 50 successful professionals what they did in the past to win promotions, and what tips they would recommend to anyone who wants to get ahead within the next 12 months.
Read your organisation
Begin by taking a new look at your organisation. Work out who knows what’s really going on – projects, developments, problems. Identify the key decision-makers as far as your future is concerned: who do you need to influence?
Do your homework
Investigate your employer with the same hunger for detail you would engage if you were researching a new major client or project. Know what really matters to your employer. Listen to the dominant language of the organisation (is it about winning, transforming, providing exceptional service, etc), get the pulse of your company and then work towards those outcomes. Seek out short-term projects that go to the heart of what your employer finds critical and which put you within range of the key decision-makers.
Don’t set career traps for yourself
How can you get to where you want to without getting in the way of your own success? Some career blocks are employer-imposed – you’ve been sidelined away from the action or you’ve over-specialised. But remember, most career traps are designed, set and operated by you.
Take care at the job offer stage. If you’re flattered into accepting a role where failure is guaranteed (lack of resources, impossible targets, or the job can only by done by an insomniac), you’ve been set up to fail.
All work is in some way related to promotion (or at least, retention). You are either undertaking activity which encourages your employer to keep you and develop you, or you’re blocking your career path. There’s no real middle ground. The favourite strategy of ‘getting on with the job’ is far from neutral – you’re in danger of parking yourself in a backwater.
It’s satisfying to be the coffee break cynic, but word soon gets out if you always look for the downside. You don’t need to be a robotic optimist, but it makes sense to be seen as open to new ideas.
Look for quick wins
Look for ways you can deliver in the fastest time with the minimum of effort. Ask around – what gets in the way of productivity? What can be resolved obviously and cheaply? Unsuccessful managers often fail because they try to impose change without knowing how the organisation already works – or doesn’t. Quick wins come from talking to people on the shopfloor, particularly those who are customer-facing. Ask ‘what could we do better?’ and ‘what are we missing?’. The answers are often enlightening. Seek consent to implement two or three changes that are low on cost and high on imagination. If it works, give credit to the person who gave you the idea. And make sure you follow up – don’t be a one-hit wonder.
John Lees is the author of the best-selling How To Get A Job You’ll Love. His latest book, How To Get The Perfect Promotion (McGraw-Hill £12.99) was published in September.
How to Get the Perfect Promotion
How to get a Job you’ll Love