27 September 2023

Promotion: You’ve got to ask for it

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Roberta Matuson* says ‘I’m bound to get promoted because I do great work’ is one of the most common misconceptions in the modern workplace.

Managers are extremely worried that their best people are about to bolt, as finding replacements for these people is harder than it’s ever been.

This can be great news for you if you play your cards right.

Getting a promotion seems like it should be super easy. Do good work and you’ll be noticed — if only that were enough.

Here’s the real deal on how to get promoted.

You must ask for what you want

You cannot assume that your boss knows you’re interested in a promotion. You must tell them.

I recently was coaching a group of women working at a major tech company on the art of managing up.

When I mentioned the need to do this, there were a few naysayers in the room who said doing good work should be enough.

As luck would have it, their boss was participating in the session and here’s what she said.

“Almost daily, one of your male colleagues comes into my office and asks me when they are going to get promoted. None of you have ever done that.”

There was dead silence in the room. You can’t really argue with a statement like that.

You cannot be a best-kept secret

You may be the best at what you do, but this doesn’t matter if no one else knows about it — especially your boss.

You must get comfortable with shamelessly promoting yourself.

Start by writing your own performance review, which needs to include the value you bring to the organisation. If it is possible, try to monetise this value.

For example: “I negotiated a new contract for our company, which resulted in an annual savings of $250,000, which is more than $1 million over the life of the contract.”

You must admit, this sounds much more impressive than: “I negotiated the new copier contract on behalf of the company.”

Look for ways to make your manager’s life easy

Being a boss is a tough job.

You’re overseeing the work of multiple people and you’re responsible for everything that happens in your section.

Volunteer to take tasks off your manager’s desk. Ask to assist on projects that have high visibility. Be someone your boss can rely on.

Remind your boss why you are qualified to take on more responsibility

Just because you’re working for someone, doesn’t mean they know your background.

It’s not uncommon for a manager to inherit their team.

Your boss may have glanced over your personnel file when they first got there, but that doesn’t mean they’ve retained all the information they’ve read.

Also, the chances are you’ve increased your skills since you started your job.

You may have taken online courses or completed an advanced degree. Or, you may have acquired valuable experience volunteering at a non-profit.

Now is the time to let your boss know that you’re ready to take on more challenging work.

Don’t wait until you’re 100 per cent ready

Doing so is an amateur move. Don’t wait for someone else to step in and scoop up your promotion.

Throw your hat in the ring. What’s the worst thing that can happen?

If you don’t get the job, ask your boss what you specifically need to do to ensure the next promotion goes to you.

*Roberta Matuson is President of Matuson Consulting which helps Fortune 500 companies and high growth businesses create exceptional workplaces leading to extraordinary results. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared at matusonconsulting.com.

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