When I was at Sentara, a large heath system in Virginia, I was hired as a marketing representative for the new durable medical equipment retail unit. My job was to build relationships with both internal divisions and external physician groups or clinics. Within a few months, my boss moved on, and I was selected for her position which increased my coverage to include the home care division and IV therapy center. I was fortunate to be promoted again, to manage the business development and marketing of 14 different divisions or business units within my four years of service.
I know it doesn’t always work that way. That was the early 90s, a time of tremendous growth in many industries. Today, the ability to be promoted has changed drastically in large organizations. Some of that is because the loyalty factor of employees has changed. If a promotion is not in the works within two or three years, Gen Xers can’t wait to get out of the debt they have had now for several years, and Millennials have just gotten bored waiting, anxious to prove themselves somewhere in a short time. And then there are Boomers who are content to still be working, yet each year, find it harder to be promoted.
It is refreshing lately though to see so many companies hiring from within when promotions are available, and for those growing in multiple cities or even states, additional promotions are becoming common, even moving employees to the new locations over hiring all employees within a new area.
Wherever you are in your career, it is time to build strategies for earning a promotion. You never know when someone may leave or be promoted, making a potential promotion for you.
Every day you are communicating a personal brand. Make sure it is the best one for a new job!
Here are just a few which I use when consulting with clients:
Staying quiet can defeat the purpose! I have heard people say, “I come to work and keep my mouth shut, but I never get the promotion!” Well, duh. Out of sight…out of mind is not just some old quote. When you are too quiet, you can be misunderstood as not being interested or even worse, not promotion material.
Ask questions, but preferably offer some value in the discussion. Showing interest in the business goals, revenue, events, and changes in other departments that could have an impact on your work, even at a big picture angle, shows you are on top of your work. If you are not sure how to do something or where to get information, ask your boss and others who are counting on you. If you explain briefly why it is important to you, you will be viewed as dependable and part of the team.
You should promote your skills! It’s not bragging to show you have certain skills useful in management situations. Involve yourself in discussions during meetings or even in casual situations where you can share an idea based on your experience or share a solution to a problem you have handled. It’s nice when someone points out a skill which you have, but it doesn’t always happen.
Stay away from gossip and office politics. Some people spend more time talking about others or issues at work in relationships than they do on the actual work they are supposed to be doing! You will never gain a promotion by engaging in the gossip.
Increase your opportunities to network and learn. I tell people to look for mentors within the company, and that usually will not be your boss, though you want to make sure your boss knows that you respect this potential mentor and why you would like to either work with them on a project or ask their advice. Speaking of volunteering, whether it is on a new project or a community-oriented activity, offer to help. We all learn from others at work, and you could build lifelong relationships.
Whatever you do, stop and evaluate how “your brand” looks to a potential boss before you apply the promotion!