Ranstad recently completed a nation-wide survey of employees measuring a number of aspects having to do with salary, benefit, work conditions and expectations they have for this coming year. Ranstad is the second leading global HR and Staffing firm. One outstanding figure was 43% of the people responding indicated they were looking for a promotion this year. That’s going to be a lot of people taking their spouse out to celebrate.
A promotion doesn’t just magically happen because you want it to or by spending enough time in your current position. Promotions take place because of demonstrated ability to perform at the next level.
Here at 7 steps to power your way to that promotion:
1. Know where you’re going. It’s not enough to simply want to be promoted; you have to be clear about what you want to be promoted TO. Granted, for some companies you can be doing virtually the same work and get promoted, which is primarily a pay increase. In this definition, we’re talking about a promotion to a higher rank or position. With that higher rank or position, comes a new set of responsibilities. You must be clear about what the work is you are targeting before you can create any plan to get there.
2. Study the new position. Once you have identified the position you want to be promoted to, you need to understand what the job involves. Most likely there will be some additional tasks for which you may not have the experience or the skills to perform. In order for you to identify what development is needed, it’s extremely important for you to analyze the difference between where you are right now and what will be demanded of you in the other position.
3. Create a development plan. The best way to a promotion is by obtaining agreement and support from your immediate manager for what development you need to do. Create a development plan that you can review with them based on your assessment done on step 2. You will want to know their perspective of the demands of the job and where they see you need to develop. Once you are in agreement on the various development items, you need to work out the details for when and how each element will be carried out. Notice I didn’t say go to the boss and ask to be promoted with nothing in your hand. The act of taking responsibility for your direction, giving thought to what you must do to get there, and working with them shows tremendous professionalism.
4. Look for opportunities. When you are looking to grow, you must look for opportunities to demonstrate you can take on bigger responsibilities. These might not be on your plan, but are still great things to gain skill and experience. Volunteer to fill in when someone in your target position is out of the office, or to pick up a project from them when they need to offload a heavy work load. If those situations aren’t available, look toward the work your boss does for the same chance to excel.
5. Make sure you’re doing your job well. Sometimes when people get so excited about getting promoted and taking on new duties, they forget they still have a job to perform. This is not the time to drop a ball. Make sure you are executing superbly WHILE taking on new tasks. This might mean you have to put in additional hours for a while, but you should consider it an investment in your future.
6. Measure and get feedback. Be accountable to your plan. Each time you achieve a development milestone, it’s a good time to sit back down with the boss and calibrate your plan. You need to ask for feedback on both the items you delivered as well as overall progress. You need to know if what you are doing is truly moving you forward toward that promotion; and the only way to know is to ask.
7. Understand the path isn’t straight. As with everything, things change. The boss leaves, the company reorganizes or you get moved. You should expect that your path to promotion will be a curving and sometimes rough road. If you know that as you start, then know you will occasionally need to make adjustments to your plan. Keep your eye on the goal and when the business changes, look at that event as an opportunity. Every change gives you a chance to solve problems and let management know just how indispensable you are.
If there is one message I would want to leave you with it’s this: You are responsible for your success, however you define it. If a promotion is your next career goal, you must be responsible for making it happen.