Career Management

Do you want to get promoted in your current position or a future job? Follow these tips.

1) Let your boss know:

If your boss doesn’t know you want to move up in the company you are unlikely to get a promotion or even recognition for doing good work.

Bosses cannot read your mind. Our attention is split all over in this time of electronic communications, and the same is true of your supervisor. The bosses attention is focused on their team, politics, performance, paperwork, compliance, strategy, competition, profile building, hiring and firing, and many other items. If you don’t get feedback from your superior, exercise your power by requesting feedback (If they don’t oblige, go to their boss). During a review session assert yourself by directly saying what you need. If you tell them what you are hoping for, then at the least it’s on the agenda, and documented for future conversations. If your superior is not taking notes, take them yourself and send them later. Explain your value to the company, and what you deserve in terms of promotions. You should always ask what it is you can do that would set you apart and earn you recognition. Opening a dialogue is the way to move ahead.

2) Ask for feedback:

If you haven’t asked for feedback do so now.

You must be specific in your communications with your supervisor about what you’re wanting in terms of your future within the job or within the company. As detailed in the step above, before you go in to a meeting with you supervisor, get clear on:

  1. what you desire
  2. what you are able to accomplish
  3. what you are willing to do for the company in order to get your needs met.

3) Understand exactly where you stand in the pecking order:

This is where you and your boss may differ, so it’s worth going over your recent reviews to see if you are both on the same page. If there is anything at all that is unclear to you, this will need to be discussed at the feedback session in detail, and recorded along with any actions you mutually agree, you could take to improve the situation. Remember that your superior will apply his/her own personal standards to your performance. If your boss is someone who is very self-critical or hard on them self, they are very likely to be applying equally tough standards to your performance on the job. If their attention is getting overwhelmed, it’s possible they don’t really know what you’re doing day to day. There are usually specific written guidelines for appraising work quality in place to minimize this idiosyncratic method of performance review. Your boss carries his/her values into everything they do, especially into what they value most. This is a difficult conversation, and should be approached diplomatically. You’ll need to be willing to support your boss to see how they view their own performance, in order for them to gain more awareness of the productivity that you offer.

4) Remember you are there to make money for the company:

Given the current economy, there isn’t a manager out there who hasn’t had to consider who they would let go if required to make cuts. When they evaluate staff, it’s always based on who provides the most value. If you can’t more than justify your salary with the work you do, you are at risk. Make sure your boss clearly sees the correlation between your work and profitability for your department.

5) Keep your superiors in balance:

…and don’t make them guess.

Unexpected needs for time off, sudden problems you can’t handle, and out-of-the-blue requests for tools and resources are a real turn-off to managers. Like you, they hate surprises. Do whatever you can to avoid catching your boss off-guard. They’ll appreciate your consistency and respect greatly your reliability. Plus, on the rare occasion you do surprise them, they’ll remember it is the exception not the rule.

6) The people you answer to have feelings just like you:

Like you, managers have bad days, problems with family, and financial woes. Just because they are the manager, make more money than you (sometimes they don’t!), or have some power, isn’t a reason to forget they have feelings.

Be sensitive to your boss when he/she is having an off-day and don’t be afraid to close the door and say, “I sense you are stressed today. Is there anything I can do?” While they probably will brush it off and say, “I’m fine,” they will not forget you cared enough to ask. Employees who care about their manager are employees a manager wants to keep around long-term.

7) Act like you  respect your manager, whether you do or not:

Your manager has the lead role. It comes with added responsibility and pressures that you do not have. Be mindful of how hard your boss’s job must be and make sure you articulate your respect for the job he/she has agreed to take on. While you may not like everything your boss does, and perhaps even you think you could do the job better, show your respect for the fact he/she is the one doing the job.

Even if your boss is the type that says he/she sees you as equals and wants you to feel like you have as much say as they do, the simple reality is it’s his/her reputation at stake if something goes wrong. So, be sure to say or do something on a regular basis that proves to your boss you appreciate his/her willingness to include you, but that you still know he/she is in charge. We have to remind ourselves to go from thinking into action.

This week, take some kind of action every day towards getting a promotion. Give yourself permission to act, even if you’re not quite ready.

Author: Donn Sonn is Senior Vice President of Professional Recruiting Associates.

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