Promotion at work: How do you move up that corporate ladder?

Edward has always taken his administrative job seriously. He is a reliable employee, comes to work on time, remarkably executes his duties and meets his performance targets.

What puzzles him however is that even after all the five years he has been with the company; he has not been offered a promotion.

He feels invisible and it’s bothering him. Does he keep his concerns with him and risk resenting his job? The thought of approaching his boss crosses his mind but the fear of coming off as ‘nagging’ holds him back.

And just like Edward, a number of employees find themselves caught up in such dilemma. They want to see their efforts appreciated, they desire promotions for growth in their career journeys but how to go about this remains a conundrum.

Business proprietor Robert Mugisha says that first and foremost, employees need to understand that promotions are not a given. This is why they need to realise that it’s not a matter of working hard or the time spent working for a given employer that earns you the promotion, he says.

He notes that taking charge of one’s career journey is the best way to achieve this. If you want a promotion do not assume your employer will read your mind, approach them with your proposal and see how it goes, he says.

“Position yourself for such opportunities. Do more than what you are assigned to do, this way you are advancing your skills and preparing yourself for diverse opportunities,” he says.

Isabelle Isiji a human resource manager says that it is key for an employee to plan for their next promotion roughly twelve months ahead.

Some of the aspects she says one should factor when pitching for promotion are their performance and the company’s general performance.

The above two go hand in hand but it is not automatic that when you as an employee perform that the company could also be performing well, she says.

“Nonetheless individual performance is key to start that conversation with the employer.”

Isiji notes that being forewarned is being forearmed hence encouraging individuals to do some analysis, conduct some research and pitch themselves accordingly.

Twelve months prior one should have a performance and development plan which will act as their bench mark for the promotion. And while working on this, an individual should be aware of their manager’s key objectives and priorities. If your managers’ key objective is to increase sales by 20% by end of review period, your performance should echo the same, she highlights.

Employees are also encouraged to prepare for what they desire to have. If one aspires, as a sales manager, to become the sales director, they should endeavour to know the tasks of the sales director.

Researching on the position, aligning that to the current situation in the company is also very vital.

And in this light, Isiji calls on finding out the gaps available, researching on what one can do to bring a solution. By doing so one is in position to be a value addition to the company and hence a win-win situation for it’s a promotion that management will derive benefit from and not a liability.

Match skills with desired position

The reasons why promotions are not a common phenomenon is because employees sell themselves short by merely asking for a pay rise without necessarily showing the employer how they will impact the bottom line positively, Isiji notes.

She therefore explains that it is important to ensure that one’s skills match with the promotion they desire. If the promotion requires specialised skills, it is your duty to gunner the skills prior to requesting for the promotion.

“Following our sales director example, ensure that you have what it takes for example certification and affiliations to bodies that matter and that act as an advantage to you and the organisation. Get yourself acquainted with the position, start aligning yourself for the job by ensuring that you offer assistance in that docket for instance volunteer in similar position after working hours or when the person is on leave.”

Isiji also points out the need to make one’s intentions known to the manager and that this is only viable after all the above steps have been adequately achieved.

“The lack of getting a promotion in the organisation you currently work for should not deter your growth. No knowledge is useless knowledge.”

It takes more than just doing your job well

Author Jessica Thiefels writes that for one to move up the ladder to the next step of their career, they have to prove to decision makers and leadership that they are ready and deserving enough to take on more responsibility. This takes consistently working your best, staying dedicated to your work, and much more.

Always be a team player and collaborative. Employers don’t like it when employees are focused on ‘I’ rather than ‘we.’ They want team players who are committed to helping the greater good of the team, which ultimately benefits the company, she notes.

She also notes that making oneself indispensable is important. How can you make yourself an indispensable member of your team? One way is to become the go-to person for something specific, like designing dynamic sales decks to dealing with challenging customers. People in positions like this are not only sought after by co-workers, but also seen by leadership because they naturally stand out as someone people are always looking for.

Advocate for yourself. When asking for a promotion, leadership is going to want to know what kind of value you bring to the business. Rather than trying to think back at all you’ve accomplished, build a ‘working’ portfolio throughout the year. After you’ve completed an important project or performed a record sales month, document it. When noting your successes, focus on the most important details.

“Don’t be afraid to take charge and show leadership potential. Do you display passion, trustworthiness, decisiveness and confidence? Possessing these types of leadership skills is essential for getting promoted. After all, the first step in being a leader is acting like one. Don’t get involved in office politics or develop bad habits, like being late or missing deadlines. Leaders need to be great role models for the employees they manage and work with, and without these skills, it will be hard to get a management promotion.”