One of the best pieces of career advice Mark Jones received from a boss was the one-liner:
“If you are to be promoted to the next level, show us you can operate at that level.”
The Brisbane leadership facilitator says he stopped “moving with the flock”, started looking at his organisation’s bigger picture and his career skyrocketed.
“You need to keep your eyes at a higher level than where you are at, know where your organisation is going and your role in it,” he says. “Make sure you are value adding and you are well on your way.”
Jones estimates less than 5% of workers in organisations are following that approach and are just “bumbling along”. He says if you are the one in 20 people getting it right, your chances of gaining a promotion are greatly enhanced.
It takes months of hard work and showing initiative before you can confidently sit down and ask your manager for a promotion, Jones warns. But even when budgets are strained and competition for advancement is fierce, the following advice from the careers expert should help increase your chances of gaining a promotion.
Make the most of your performance review
Jones says performance appraisals, generally run annually, are often poorly managed, where the boss and employee view it as a hardship to be endured. He says it is up to the employee to be proactive and control their own review – clearly mapping out their ambition of where they would like to go.
“Ask your boss if they can offer you any help or advice to achieve your aims,” says Jones, who is the principal of Mark Jones Consulting. “By asking for their help you are actually helping to raise their self-esteem. You’re showing you respect their opinion. This means the boss is partially responsible for your successes and has a vested interest in getting you promoted.”
Know your organisation’s vision
Jones says the majority of people have not read their organisation’s vision nor do they have any idea what it is about – where the organisation is going to be in five years time.
“You spend more time with the company than your own children or partners,” he says. “You will be struggling to ask for a promotion if you can’t even link what you are currently doing to where your organisation wants to go.”
Understand your boss’s role
As a frontline manager or supervisor you need to not only be fully confident in your own position but also understand your boss’s role.
“You need to start researching and aligning your current activities to the business plan,” Jones says. “You will not only be helping to make your boss’s role easier, you are also doing your boss’s job and proving you are capable of operating at the next level.”
Document your successes and improvements
Jones says unfortunately the human memory tends to remember the first and last information we are exposed to. When it comes to performance appraisal, it’s vital to keep a good record of your achievements over the past year so you can highlight these to your boss.
Grow your leadership skills
Technical skills only take you so far in an organisation. Leadership skills are vital if you want to progress higher up the chain. Jones says you should focus on building people skills as well as negotiation, conflict resolution and delegation skills.
Put your hand up for internal/external courses and training
“Avoid becoming one of those course junkies who does every course going,” Jones says. “Make sure what you choose has an alignment to your plans and adds value to the organisation.”
Take on challenging projects
“This is a wonderful way to act at a level greater than you are now,” Jones says. “It is low risk for the company to have you on a one-to-three month project but shows you are capable of doing this long term. You gain valuable skills and develop networks.”
Dress and act the part
You need to look at how people one level up from you present themselves in the workplace including how they dress and talk to superiors or customers.
“You need to communicate at a higher level and have the right attitude,” Brown says. “If I see someone in the workplace who is constantly grumbling, backstabbing other workers, openly criticising people without helping them improve, why would I promote that person?”
Ready for a promotion? Read this article on helpful tips to make sure your conversation goes well.