Climbing up the corporate ladder is never an easy task. So any little help is always welcomed. Have a plan of attack to show your company you are ready to move up.
SHORT TERM PLAN
Lead the way: If you want to prove you are management material you have to show off your leadership skills. “Volunteer for a project or create a project that will bring significant value to the company,” explains Ray White author of the upcoming book Connecting Happiness and Success. “Executives are looking for managers who can lead people to get important things done.”
Follow: It may sound contradictory to say lead and then say follow, but good leaders can also follow. “Executives are looking for leaders who can take orders, be loyal, and make other people look good,” explains White.
Create value for the company: The company is in business to make money, so help it do just that. “Bring in a new customer, create a new product, convince a big customer to spend more money. Executives desperately need people who know how to create value for the company versus just doing their job,” White points out.
Educate yourself: “Learn everything you can about every aspect of the company,” says business consultant Barry Maher, author of Filling the Glass. Adds Dana Wilde, author of Train Your Brain, “Ask thoughtful questions. Ask questions about the direction the company is headed and ask how you can support company growth and future plans.” Also find out how the other departments in the company operate. “Learn about the overall workings of the business. Get an overview of other departments like finance, HR and the top-level management of the company. As you develop a comprehensive knowledge of your company, you will set yourself up to be a more effective manager who makes wise decisions and works well with other department leaders,” says Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises.
Walk the walk, talk the talk: Check out how the hireups are attired. How do they speak? Image can play a major part in your advancement. “Always act and dress appropriately for the next promotion. Make sure those with the power to promote you start thinking of you as the type of person who’d be appropriate for that job,” says Maher.
Get an in-house mentor: Seek out a mentor within the company who can advise you on your promotion plan. “Hitch your wagon to a star. Find the mentor who’s moving up and help that mentor get wherever it is he or she wants to go,” says Maher.
Go the extra mile: Roll up your sleeves and dig in. “Do the jobs no one else is willing to do. Demonstrate your capabilities and your capacity to grow. Never miss a chance to learn or to grow but whenever possible avoid ‘can’t win’ situations and situations where you’re set up for failure,” says Maher.
Watch your office interactions: The way you treat other people in the office is a good indicator of how you will treat people when you are a leader. So interact with people rationally, kindly. “Deal with your colleagues and managers with integrity and enhance your leadership attitude. Showing your leadership attitude to your coworkers is one way of proving to your managers you are worthy of a promotion,” explains career strategist/retirement coach Cecile Peterkin, of Cosmic Coaching Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Study yourself: You’ve studied the company, you’ve studied your boss–now study yourself. “Understand your own strengths. How confident you are with yourself can be determined by how well you know your own strengths and weaknesses,” notes Peterkin.
Watch the clock: If you aren’t reliable, how can you expect to make it to upper management? “Be
an expert at time management. It is crucial that you are organized and disciplined enough to finish your tasks and complete your projects on time,” advises Peterkin.
LONG TERM PLAN
Prepare, prepare: Plan out how you will make your promotion request. “When going for that promotion, be ready to articulate the case for giving you the job. How are you going to make the company more profitable, save money, increase efficiency or productivity? Okay, you may deserve a promotion, but what is promoting you going to do for the company?” says Maher.
Communication is key: Keep your boss in the loop of your activities and achievements. “To position yourself for future promotions, during the year send a short note to your boss at the end of each week, just keeping him or her apprised of everything you did during that week. Come evaluation time, the boss may well use those notes to help write the evaluation. And at the very least, you’ll have all that ammunition when it’s time to talk about that next promotion or raise,” says Maher.
Become involved: Make moves outside the company as well. Join organizations in your field. Even go some volunteering. “Be active in the industry and if possible gain an industry-wide reputation. If it turns out your company doesn’t appreciate you, maybe another company will,” says Maher.
Speak to clients: To increase business you need to know what your customers want. So ask them. “Great ideas, new business, and future products all come from understanding the needs of the customers. Getting to know and being able to pick the phone and call many different customer leads to get their input prepares you for many different challenges and opportunities,” offers White.
Align yourself with your boss’ vision: You need to be on the same page as your boss. “Work according to your boss’ goals and priorities. Ask your boss what are their long-term goals. Then align yourself accordingly,” says Pierce. “When you are aware of your boss’s goals, you can set your priorities to help them accomplish them. Upgrade your ability to assist and always bring solutions to the table. By taking the initiative you not only gain trust of you boss, but also position yourself as an asset to them.”
Get extra training: Find out what skills you will need for a promotion and acquire them. “Conferences, local colleges, and even competitors or other companies can teach you about the industry and how to do your job better. Education creates the ability to connect challenges with solutions in ways others can’t,” White says.
Create a promotion plan: Have a plan written out. “Create a plan with timelines,” suggests Peterkin. “Keep track of your relevant accomplishments, and how you made a difference.”
Avoid These Mistakes On Your Way Up
Not speaking up: Don’t assume you will be noticed. Make yourself get noticed. “Don’t expect the powers that be to notice you on their own,”explains Maher.
Always criticizing: Constructive criticism is one thing, constant criticism is another. “Many people think that when they are complaining or criticizing, they are offering good advice to management. Be solution-oriented, not problem focused,” explains Wilde.
A poor attitude: Attitude really matters. “Even a highly skilled, over-qualified, hard worker can disqualify themselves for promotion with a negative attitude,” notes Pierce. “If you are prone to complain, gossip, or perpetuate doom and gloom in the office, you’re ruining your chances at advancement. Leaders look for managers with a positive outlook; who can rally the team to accomplish the company’s goals.”
Not being authentic: Don’t try to become another person in order to get ahead. “Be yourself. Focus on your strengths and the opportunity in your company that is a match for those strengths will present itself,” says Wilde.
Being short-sighted: Tunnel vision could make you miss important opportunities. Look at the big picture. “Stop focusing on the ladder. Climbing the corporate ladder is more about giving than receiving. Give value to the company, give loyalty to your boss, and give support to your peers. Don’t focus on what you can get, focus on what you can give,” warns White.
Getting lost: Promotions don’t happen overnight and sometime it can be easy to lose focus. Keep your vision, says Wilde. “Stay the course. Don’t get discouraged. Keep a clear picture of what you want and you are sure to get it,” she offers.
Not smelling the roses: Enjoy every step. It is a mistake to hate the trip up–it’s part of the journey. Be happy now, don’t wait until you get promoted, says White. “Take time to nurture great relationships inside and outside of work. Those relationships will make your career. Those relationships will be much better if you are happy then if you are stressed all the time,” he says.
Forgetting you: Don’t work so much that you are ‘t taking care of yourself. “It is not about how much work you can do or how many emails you can answer. It is about how productive you can be and how smart you can work,” notes White. “If you are sick or out of energy because you always work late and never sleep or don’t eat right or don’t exercise, then you will not be as productive, you will not be as smart, and you burn out or succumb to stress just when you need to be at your best to take advantage of a new opportunity.”