How to Get Promoted

Everyone wants to get promoted. Even the people that say they don’t really do want it. They just may not be willing to do the work that is involved in earning the promotion. Most organizations prefer to promote within. It is a good practice to hire a person who understands and is accepting of the culture and knows the business well. In most cases, this will give you an advantage. Other times, they will want someone from the outside to provide a fresh, new perspective.

There are two critical keys to a promotion. Know what the organization values and who the gatekeepers are.

The most important aspect in getting that promotion is to figure out what the organization values. This is often not what “they” say they value. Look at what the managers and high-level leaders are talking about. What metrics do they track? What items are consistently communicated? Determining these values can be tricky, but it is important not to be fooled by cliché terms like, “work hard” and “give it your all.” Although they are important, working hard is the entry-level employee reason for promotion. Management positions require reading between the lines. Weekly emails from your manager about the training stats are a great indicator that training is important to the organization. If the monthly and quarterly award winners are the ones that innovate and drive change, then your organization probably values innovation and improvements.

Determine the gatekeepers and know what they need to give you passage. The gatekeepers are the people that can stop you from progressing. Everyone in the organization will have an opinion, but there are only a few that hold the real power to block a promotion. Your peers and others in the organization will probably have influence with the gatekeepers, but their influence is only effective if your actions leave room for doubt. Doubt about whether you are right or wrong for the promotion.

If you don’t value the same things your organization or the gatekeepers value then perhaps you aren’t in the right organization. Those things will change over time, but the big things you are passionate about should be a focus for the organization as well. In an ideal situation, the things you believe are important for promotion should also be what the organization values.

Once you identify the values another great piece of advice is to solve your boss’ problems. Don’t be a “yes man” or a “brown-noser,” but solving your boss’ problems will provide many benefits to you, most importantly, more autonomy in the future.

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