An increasing trend in corporate America today is the feeling of being “stuck” with little-to-slow opportunity for promotion. More executives are staying in place because of economic conditions, fear of the unknown, or valuing what they have even though they may be bored.
Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say that they have held the same job for at least five years. That’s up from 46 percent in 1996, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. Don’t be one of the “stuck” ones. Cut the crap, get promoted! Here’s how to go about it:
- Plan for a promotion. Map out your approach – who, what, when, how. Write down your target month for promotion (be realistic), put together your plan of action, identify the supporting materials you will need to prepare, and list the staff you will need to engage with. Remember: Nobody is planning your promotion for you. Own it.
- Do your research. Study your company’s Intranet, HR website, guidelines, and metrics. You will find an amazing amount of material on your Intranet site or available through your human resources department. Most employees don’t read it. Don’t be one of those. Be prepared to cite appropriate company information during your effort to get promoted.
- Seek insights. Find three people to share your thinking and get feedback. Select three very influential and insightful people who will be direct, yet helpful. Share your written plan and ask for their perspectives.
- Host a preliminary talk with your manager. What does he or she look for in promotions? Prepare a solid agenda for a meeting dedicated to the topic so you won’t stray into “work stuff.” Listen more than you talk. This is just for investigative purposes; do not ask for the promotion… yet.
- Secure the promotion form your manager needs to complete. In most companies, there is a form that your manager needs to fill out to justify your promotion. Get a blank form, study the questions, and do more research to complete it.
- Fill out the form for your manager and hand deliver it, don’t e-mail it. If your company is looking for examples of scope growth, show how you have increased revenue, grown and developed your team, or made an increasing impact on the company’s bottom line. Do not just say what a great employee you are.
- Book a dedicated one-on-one meeting with your manager to discuss your career. Communicate the purpose, prepare an agenda, and send it to your manager in advance. Show that you are focused on your next career move now, rather than 5 years out. Script your “pitch” to demonstrate why you are ready for a promotion based on concrete examples.
- Run an amazing meeting. Follow your agenda and discuss the promotion form and the next steps. Have hard copies of the agenda, the promotion form (or a facsimile if it is an online form) and a list of specific questions to discuss after you have made the “pitch.” Take notes throughout!
- Follow up the conversation with a thank you note, summarizing the discussion and making note of action items. Regardless of the outcome, show a huge dose of appreciation!
- Be persistent in your follow-up by scheduling actions in your calendar. Your manager may say, “I need to research and I’ll get back to you.” However, you can take the initiative to send a “meeting invitation” for a date 3 or 4 weeks out, depending on your one-on-one meeting. You may need to reschedule multiple times before you get the specific insights you need – or get that promotion!
The “good old days” are gone; employees are no longer rewarded with surprise promotions! It takes work, deep insights, proactive communications with your manager, great networking horizontally and vertically in your company, and much more. Promotions today are rarer than ever and you need to be that much better to get promoted.