Up For Promotion?
Imagine your boss,
your boss's boss and other key executives in your company sitting
around a table discussing YOU. They're talking about your character,
your leadership qualities, the projects you manage, the people you
oversee, the results you achieve and your overall performance for
the past year. This panel will be making a very important decision
- do we promote you or not?
Perhaps your organization
doesn't have such a formal process, but this ritual happens in some
fashion at virtually every company, large or small.
In a nutshell
here's what happens:
Each manager tries
to sell their candidate as the most deserving person for the promotion.
Other members of the group will want to know why that person deserves
So having a manager
who can do a persuasive job selling you will be key to you getting
a promotion. Along with your manager, some of the other managers and
executives who have worked directly with you will share their opinions.
So it's also important to have them represent you in a positive, influential
With each manager
fighting for his or her own people, the competition can be pretty
can be brutally honest and harsh in its portrayal of the candidates.
If someone doesn't like you, it will be mentioned. It can get especially
nasty when someone REALLY wants their candidate to get promoted and
they will do and say anything to undercut someone else.
Your odds at getting
promoted are good if you:
- Received high
everything that was asked.
on all the objectives that were set out.
- Met the team's
ways the company could save money
- Took on additional
higher profile projects.
- Expanded your
network of relationships.
- Worked hard,
long hours and gave your all.
But you may not
get promoted if:
- Not everyone
on the panel knows you, your work and your accomplishments.
- Not enough
people stood up for you during the discussion.
- You can't stand
the politics (and ass kissing) in the company so you don't "play
- You did only
what you were asked and nothing beyond your job.
- You haven't
influenced these key decision makers and thus fewer people are positively
speaking up on your behalf.
to Improve Your Odds
Now that you know
how "the game" is played, here are three strategies to help
you get the promotion you deserve.
Make sure your
supervisor (or the person representing you at the meeting) is well
briefed and has thorough documentation about your accomplishments.
2. Make it
easy for your boss to plead your case.
Prepare a list
of "talking points" that summarize why you deserve the promotion.
Support your argument with bottom-line facts and figures that are
tied to your company's objectives. Include letters or testimonials
from customers or key clients.
the reactions of others in the room.
of your advocates and try to mitigate the damage that can be caused
by detractors. Provide ammunition to your supervisor about how you've
helped others in the room meet their goals. And if there are potential
"landmines," make sure he or she is aware of them. Discuss
in advance ways your supervisor can "defuse" these problems.
But what if
you don't get the promotion?
Don't get defensive
or impulsively mail out resumes. Learn from the experience and improve
your chances the next time around.
1. Ask your
boss for honest feedback.
Try to glean as
much information as you can about the meeting. Your boss may be limited
because of confidentiality concerns, but he or she can provide valuable
insights without "naming names."
a plan to address your weaknesses (whether real or perceived).
Don't get defensive.
Working with your boss, use this feedback intelligently to develop
specific strategies to address these issues or concerns. For example,
if the group felt that you weren't very strong on financial issues,
consider additional training.
3. Don't wait
for the next promotion meeting to communicate your accomplishments.
Never assume "my
work speaks for itself." Your goal should be that everyone at
that promotion meeting knows about your accomplishments before they
walk into that room. Take an active role in shaping the opinions and
attitudes of key decision-makers by letting them know about your accomplishments
and value to the organization.