Many of us land a job and are extremely grateful to be employed, but always harbor a dream that someday we will move up within the organization.
But opportunities usually just don’t fall out of the sky, and getting the right alignment of the sun, moon, and the stars requires some hustle on your end to make it all happen.
But first, think about things from the boss’ point of view. If you were in the big cheese’s chair, what would you look for in your employees when determining whether or not to promote them?
There are always going to be those tricky political situations where supervisors promote their favorite “pets” and of course, the gooey people who rain down praise and platitudes to their superiors in an attempt to score favor(sickening, isn’t it?). Trying to get yourself ahead in either one of these situations is extremely tough considering how much you might have to compromise your principles to curry favor with the boss.
1) Get to know your boss. We book business with who we know and like… the same thing goes for marketing yourself. Make yourself likable, and spend time making your boss’ job easier. Proactively keep them regularly updated versus waiting until they request a status report from you. Set up regular meetings to keep them up-to-speed with opportunities or liabilities that you see. By acting as someone on “their side,” you can gain their respect and maintain your integrity instead of buttering them up with empty platitudes.
2) Keep a running file of your accomplishments. Then communicate them. We all know when we are doing a good job at the office, but other than leaving us with that warm fuzzy feeling inside, these don’t do you any good in the office unless you share them. You don’t have to be a braggart. It could be as simple as forwarding a kudos you received from a client to your boss with a short note: “Thought you might like to see this… was a tough client to win but glad we won them over because it was worth $____ in business to the company!” The boss suddenly has external feedback about the great job you are doing and also measurable quantification of your results. That, in most supervisors’ minds, means that you absolutely rock.
3) If the opportunity arises, propose a job. Being on the inside, sometimes you can spot a staffing need before your boss (who is concerned with bigger picture issues) can. Sometimes the opportunity is a result of being understaffed or simply because the superior can’t see the simple need right in front of them. Being proactive and formulating your proposal to be a problem-solution fix is a great way to move up. Be sure to do your due diligence so you can present the idea as a profit-center and not as a cost (which is immediately where the supervisor will go). The more detailed you can be and have estimated outcomes, the more receptive they will be. This could even be your opportunity to design your dream job!
4) Step up. And Up. And Up. ( No, this is not a StairMaster…) Fact of life: the go-getters are the ones who move up. Remember the saying, “The early bird gets the worm?” It still holds true. Be early to work, dependable, and get projects done on time or early while not compromising on quality. But beyond that, you need to always be the one who raises their hand to take on a special project or tough task when you can tackle it competently. You’ll earn esteem with your peers and the people that count.. the boss who is likely looking for that go-getter to be the one to take a program or project to the next level.
5) Be generous. We all hate the people who take credit for others’ work. And we also hate the people who immediately resort to finger-pointing and blame-shifting when things go bad. Being generous can truly make you stand out as a role model. Nothing shoots you down in the workplace faster than dumping on others. Instead, share credit where it is due, and be accountable for your failures when they happen.
Maintain your integrity at all times – this means being polished professionally (both in how you look and act), and always by doing the right thing. Honesty always is a workplace value that any employer would value… if you are true to yourself and true to them, and keep these five tips in mind, you will emerge on top as the most likely candidate tapped to step into a higher internal role.
Photo By Milesbaim (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons