It was next to impossible to get a promotion in 2020. With things looking brighter with the vaccine drive and improved economic scenario even with the alphabets to describe the same are disputed, this year could augur better for that promotion.
While promotion need not define you, it is a visible recognition. It’s not about working harder or meeting KPIs. Often it’s all about the right timing and boldly asking for it. People are anxious about being rejected and shy away from asking. Instead, use the opportunity to reframe the question for positive feedback on what could enable you to be promoted to a new role. Getting into the consideration set of potential candidates is itself a success; asking for it can only improve the chances.
How best to prepare for popping the question? While experience, achievements and skills are important for a promotion, these are not enough. Here are some possible steps you can take, as gleaned from several senior executives who have found success.
- Give what the company wants: Most companies want their employees to add more value than what they pay them. So get involved in broader areas of the organisation to find ways to add more value for the growth and profitability in this “Covid-lite” year. Learn new skills that will broaden your ability to innovate, or in finding new ways to serve customers, reimagine processes or identify new units of business to reposition competition.
- Influence the decision makers: Identify who could be the ultimate decision maker for your promotion. It could be your boss or her boss. Start building a relationship with this person by showcasing your work and ideas for future growth. You can ask in a subtle manner to mentor you, which will make them take special interest in you. Remember all this will work while you continue putting in hard work and perform well. While asking for the promotion, be specific about what you want and why – totally no vagueness.
- Network internally and externally: Evidence shows that networking is essential to career success. Author Ivan Misner says that people should spend 8-10 hours a week building professionally-relevant relationships. Sociologist Mark Granovetter finds that people tend to find jobs through others with whom they have only weak ties – people they may have met casually once or twice, saw infrequently or were more like casual acquaintances. The reason: Those who are tied strongly are more likely to have the same information and contacts, whereas the weakly-tied ones tend to have non-redundant information and contacts. Despite the new virtual work world, spend time liking the idea of networking within and outside of the company for that promotion by looking for opportunities where you can demonstrate your knowledge, offering to lead some new projects, taking regular informal feedbacks, or by projecting a personal brand that meaningfully stands out.
- Establish as leader and problem-solver: Higher roles need more leadership skills and this can be honed by becoming a role model for your colleagues and gaining their respect, by stepping in to lead teams when need arises, by showing meticulous execution skills in projects, and by building skills that result in effective leadership. In addition, it is important to position yourself as a person to solve problems in crisis. Step in to take up critical initiatives that need problem solving in business processes, people issues or diversity issues. Find areas that have bottlenecks such as productivity or workplace safety, for instance, and reverse the curve. Every company loves self-starters and you will have a clear edge if you take up problem areas without being asked for it – and solve them.
- Demonstrate strong work ethics: All said and done, performance matters most in the end. Creating the image of a hard worker with strong work ethics is key. A mastery of current position can be demonstrated by differentiating from your peers. Get better results, show excellence in what you do, and focus on execution and critical reasoning. In addition, be on time for work and meetings, especially on project deadlines while taking up extra initiatives that you believe in which, as mentioned earlier, has a link to creating value.
Will it be easy to get a promotion this year? It won’t be hard for those who understand how the workplace has changed and agile to adapt. Face up to the challenges and follow the above steps. If you still don’t get that promotion, clearly your employer doesn’t deserve you!
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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