Earning a promotion is no small feat. It’s likely an intensive and quite competitive process. To be successful, you must position yourself optimally so that others – the decision-makers – view you as a logical choice.
So, what do you need to do to make that a reality?
If you take an honest look at yourself today, how do you think others view you? Not only those who know you, but a colleague on the other end of the country or in a different department? What “personal brand” are you creating?
Why is this important?
Quite simply, it’s because others’ perceptions of you can make or break your chances for a promotion. The old saying “perception is reality” is never more true than within an organization. Companies promote people based on how they’re “perceived.”
Developing a personal brand that positions you as a natural leader and an ambassador of company cultural values is critical. As a result, it is always wise to take time to self-assess. Is the image others have of you at work positive and reflective of the real value you offer to the company? Does this image or personal brand have reach? Where might changes be required to strengthen your brand?
So, how are promotion decisions made and what do you need to know to stand out in the pack?
Succession planning (identifying and developing employees for key roles in the company) is an important process of any successful company. Highlighting that next generation of leader is critical to a corporation’s sustained success.
It is worth noting that a management team contributes to most decisions around succession planning. Yes, your direct manager’s support and advocacy is crucial. And the final decision may be in the hands of one senior manager. But it’s often the full management team’s input that truly drives the decision.
This is why creating a personal brand that is admired throughout the company and its management ranks is so important. Once you have assessed the quality of your personal brand, work on strengthening it even further. Increase the likelihood that when the management team is convening to have their promotion discussions, you’re topping their list.
Want to bolster your image and get yourself noticed? Here are five steps you should take:
In another article, I wrote about the importance of building bridges within an organization in order to maximize your success. If you want to gain a promotion, you must be a known quantity that is viewed positively. This doesn’t mean that you reach out to other managers to get to know them simply because you want their support. Authenticity is key. Support your peers across the company and consistently be a positive role model. Especially in times of uncertainty.
People talk. Make sure that what they’re saying reflects well on you. Just as you may have a positive view of someone elsewhere in your company whom you’ve never met, you too will be sending positive waves outwards through your support of others.
Companies look for consistency of performance. Sure, it helps to win the top-performer spot in any given year. But even more importantly, ensure that you become an annual fixture in the upper ranks. Having sat around many succession-planning tables, I was well aware of certain employees simply because their names kept appearing as top-tier performers year after year. While it’s certainly only one piece of the puzzle, consistently high performance should be regarded as the cost of entry if you want to gain a promotion.
You’re in a meeting. Working groups have been assembled and the time has come for one person in each team to present their findings to the larger group. Is that you putting yourself forward? Very little will give you greater exposure to the company and the management team than capitalizing on these opportunities. They are like gold. It’s more than simply being seen. Step up wherever you can and demonstrate your leadership, initiative and a willingness to explore. Be bold. Show your stuff!
One of the best ways to show your potential is to take on stretch assignments that allow you to interact with other departments and managers. The challenge is that these assignments are usually quite rare. If you wait around for one to drop into your lap, you may be waiting forever. Bring forward a suggestion to your manager. Where does a need exist in the company that you could potentially meet? Make it a multiple-win scenario: for you, your manager and the company? Your creativity and initiative on this front is well worth your investment.
Build your personal brand through working with a mentor or career coach. For example, if you are wanting to become a manager, find a manager other than your own who is willing to take you under their wing and offer the benefit of their experience. Not only can you gain some very useful insights into other opportunities and challenges within your company, but you are once again showing your initiative and desire to learn.
This last point is crucial. The strongest leaders invest in themselves. They are constant learners. As companies assess their employees for future leaders, they look for a history of self-development. Be a learner. Be seen as a learner. In working with a mentor, you will also be creating another voice of support for your cause!
Secure a promotion through creating a personal brand that is widely known and respected. As the full management team often influences any promotion-decisions, it is critical that you take every opportunity to communicate an image that has positive and lasting impact across your company.
As a Career Success and Leadership Coach, Glenn guides established career professionals and leaders to greater career success and fulfillment. As well a training as a professional coach, Glenn draws on 17 years of corporate leadership experience during which time he coached countless others to success. His depth of career experience also provides him with an ability to personally relate to many of the challenges faced in today's workplace. Connect with Glenn through his website or LinkedIn.