One of the most frequent questions I get from my coaching clients is: "How can I increase my chances of being promoted?" It is natural for those who are achievement driven to want to keep moving up in the business world.
My training as a business psychologist, along with my experience from managing a team of 13, has taught me a thing or two about the type of people who get promoted.
Ability is important, but ability alone won't get you to the top. To be considered for higher level management, you need a sufficient level of skill and knowledge in your area, but once you have that it is the softer skills that will set you apart.
The good thing about soft skills is that we all have the ability to improve them if we put in some effort.
Here are five things I recommend my coaching clients start doing to make sure their names aren't overlooked next time there is room for someone to be promoted.
• Make Your Desires Clear
Too often people assume their manager knows they want to continue to move up within the organization, and don't see the need to have a specific conversation. Yet you can't assume people know your career desires.
You should look for opportunities to make your hopes clear to those who have the power to help you move within an organization, and keep it a regular topic for discussion. By having open conversations with your manager about your career trajectory you can work to get them onside as a supporter and mentor. When your aspirations are explicit, your manager will be in a much better position to look for opportunities to help with your development and promotion.
• Network Internally
People regularly underestimate the power of having strong internal networks. Often the focus is put on networking outside an organization, but you can also network within an organization.
Look to develop friendly and genuine relationships with people across the organization and at all levels. If there are socializing opportunities, do your best to be actively involved and get to know your colleagues on a more personal level. The stronger your internal relationships, the more favorably you will likely be considered by management, and the more likely other people will support your bid to move up when promotion opportunities arise.
• Be Solution-Focused
Most employees are problem focused. They typically go to their manager with a problem expecting the manager will find a solution for them. A powerful way to differentiate yourself from the crowd is to be consistently be solution-focused.
If you come across an issue or a roadblock, take a moment before going to your manager to brainstorm possible solutions. When you discuss the issue with your seniors, you'll also have a range of ways it could be dealt with right on the tip of your tongue. Maintaining a solution-focus will help you be perceived as more strategic, creative and business-minded -- all desirable attributes for leaders.
• Do the Work Others Won't
When I work with leaders, one of the most stressful situations they encounter is when an employee thinks that a task is below them and gives them push-back. To set yourself apart, worry less about what is listed in your job description, and look for what needs to be done.
By doing the grunt work you demonstrate that you will do the hard yards when others won't. That may mean picking up coffee or hand delivering documents. Senior positions typically require flexibility and a readiness to do what it takes to get a job done, and by being flexible you will be demonstrate you possess those attributes. You'll also reduce the pressure load on your Manager which will always lead to you be perceived well.
• Raise the Profile of Your Organization
Look for ways that are appropriate to your role-level, that you can raise the profile of the organization and strengthen relationships with your clients.
This may be offering to contribute to an organizational blog, speaking at a conference or networking event or posting handwritten thank you notes to clients on the completion of a project. By having a focus on what it takes to have the organization perceived positively, you will encounter the added side effect of also casting yourself in a positive light.
There is no sure-fire method to make sure you will be promoted, but there are a number of things you can do to demonstrate you possess traits that will help you keep moving up the chain of command. Your capability to do a good job matters, but so does the way you interact with your team and the greater organization. By keeping a focus on these 5 pointers, you will increase your visibility and improve the chances of your name making the top of the promotion list.
Kate is a Life & Executive Coach (MS Psychology) at www.thrive.how. She helps people who want the good stuff out of life, get it. Through her individual coaching programs, she helps people clarify their thinking, grow into their potential and re-gain balance. To learn more about her Executive Coaching offerings you can click here, or you can sign up to her community to get a copy of her free guide with 8 Tips on How to Thrive in Life.