Everyone wants a promotion, but not everyone knows how to get it. I’ve solved that problem for you with 5 little steps and they actually mirror my standard sales practice. In essence, getting that promotion is just like closing that big deal. If you can sell, you can get promoted.
Step #1 – Be Awesome At What You Do.
Step #2 – Make Your Intentions Known.
Step #3 – Act As If.
Step #4 – Gain Advocates.
Step #5 – Ask For It.
Step #1 – Be Awesome at what you do. This should go without saying, if you can’t walk the walk then don’t even bother trying to coach anyone else on talking the talk. IF you aren’t awesome at what you do yet, then there is hope. You can still make your intentions known, in fact, I’d recommend it. Stating your intentions and setting public goals will hold you more accountable and help you actually hit those goals. You’ve room to improve and in many cases that progress will actually help earn you credibility. Everyone in your organization will be watching your growth and if you can raise to say the top 25% then you’ve earned respect. If you aren’t awesome at what you do and you have no plans on being awesome, then you have no business trying to get that promotion in the first place. It’s cool, every company needs foot soldiers and maybe that’s your role for right now. If you work 9-5 and want to spend more time outside the office because you value your personal time then own it. Be the guy that get’s stuff done in less time and is good enough for now.
Step #2 – Make your intentions known. This is pretty easy to do and once the cat is out of the bag, it’s tough to undo. Put yourself out there. Talk to your boss or the decision maker and let them know what your intentions are. Resist the urge to be overly dramatic and cocky about it though. State your case and let the decision maker know that you’d like them to watch your progress and take note of your actions. You want to be the obvious choice, not the obnoxious choice.
Step #3 – Act as if. Let’s assume you are already awesome at what you do and you’ve alerted the powers that be to your presence. What now? Well, it’s time to start acting as if you’ve already gotten the promotion because it’s basically inevitable. This is tricky because you don’t want to step on any toes. I’d recommend that you speak with your leader and put together a plan. I know I love initiative like this and I reward it. When a top performer comes to me and says that he/she loves what they do and that they’d love to help out, I come up with a plan. That plan could be 1:1 coaching or mentoring, it could be running a sales contest, it could be setting up additional training courses. It might be creating a newsletter or a regular voicemail update to the team or division. These activities are dual purpose. First, the activities raise your visibility and your peers start to see you as giving more and contributing like a leader and secondly, these activities build up those around you so that your team and boss also look good. Don’t ever forget that making your boss look good will give him/her more leeway to recommend or to hand out a promotion.
Step #4 – Gain Advocates. During step #3 you have hopefully helped some individuals to get better at what they do. Great! Now ask them to take one extra step and to publicly thank you, or to send a quick note to the leadership team. If you have given a training class just close out the class with a request, “I’m glad everyone learned something very valuable today! If you like trainings like this and they actually help you, please let our leadership know so that we can arrange for more of them! Can I get a few of you to agree to send XXXXX (The VP, Owner, HR or decision maker) an email letting know that this was impactful? Also, can I get a few of you to let me and the leadership team know when this training is actually implemented?” This tactic is useful and 3rd party advocates increase your appeal to management. Leaders are consumers too, they want to believe that what they are buying into (you) is going to pay off. Just like any consumer they are scared of making a bad decision. You need to create 3rd party validation so that the decision to promote you is easier.
Step #5 – Ask for it. This is the close. This is the time where your hard work pays off. You said that you wanted this and your actions have spoken volumes about your ability and determination. You’ve helped others, gone above and beyond and now it’s time to get rewarded. Go to your leadership team and state your case when the opportunity arises. When the position is vacant or you believe there is room to create a new position. Be prepared to overcome objections by creating a plan where you new position creates more bottom line revenue for the company. It’s all about the revenue and you need to justify your extra expense. Leaders buy on emotion and justify with logic, just like everyone else. Chances are that they’d love to promote you and feel good about your presence, but you need to give concrete examples of what you’ll bring to the table and how the company will profit.
If you follow this plan and still get shut down, or get the brush off it means 1 of 2 things. There might be a legitimate issue with creating your position, you don’t have a prerequisite or the people you are talking to don’t actually have the power to offer what you are asking. It might also mean that your presence is intimidating and you failed to make them comfortable. You are a threat. I firmly believe that at any given moment I should have a replacement for my job in the wings, otherwise I’ll be deemed too important to vacate the position I’m in. Not everyone feels this same way though, some bosses protect their jobs by suppressing good talent for fear of being overshadowed. I don’t recommend attempting to make your boss look bad, I’ve never seen that work. You could try to bypass and request a move to a different division if appropriate. If that doesn’t work it’s time to take your show on the road and find a new boss.
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Learn the 5 steps to earning that promotion!
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