Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 6, Issue 33;   August 16, 2006: How to Get a Promotion: the Inside Stuff

How to Get a Promotion: the Inside Stuff

by

Do you think you're overdue for a promotion? Many of us are, but are you doing all you can to make it happen? Start with a focus on you.

One common question that troubles many of us is, "How should I ask for a promotion?" A good place to begin to answer that question is with yourself — the inside stuff. After you know what's really happening for you, it's a lot easier to address tactical issues.

The 171st graduating class of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy

The 171st graduating class of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. Promotion ceremonies are often neglected in the workplace, but they're alive and well, and more of us should use them. Photo courtesy Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.

You're more likely to secure the right promotion if you know yourself — your real motivations, your true capabilities, and how others see you.

Your real motivations
Is a promotion what you really want? Your chances of promotion are much greater if you actually want the job you would be promoted into.
Perhaps you really want the pay, and not the job. If you do, there might be other ways to get it — by changing jobs, moving to a different company, or changing industries or regions.
Your true capabilities
Where do you stand relative to others who already occupy positions comparable to the one you want? This is difficult to answer, because it calls for almost superhuman objectivity. Are you really in their league? If you suddenly found yourself as one of their peers, and you think you'd be a good fit in that group, then your plans are realistic.
Where do you stand relative to others who might be promoted to that job, or relative to others who might be hired from outside the company? To get a fix on this, apply for a similar job elsewhere. You'll quickly learn what your chances are, and you might even land a job.
How others see you
You're more likely to
secure the right promotion
if you know yourself
Is your goal consistent with management's view of you? Would your desire for a promotion come as a complete shock to management if they knew about it? Or has someone suggested that you pursue a promotion? Two very different situations.
Here are some useful indicators. Do people at your supervisor's level consult you? Have you ever represented your supervisor's organization for cross-functional task teams? Have you been asked to mentor new employees? Are you recognized for expertise that would be valuable in your new position? Would your peers in your new position advocate for you if you asked?

If you find some red flags when you examine your real motivations, your true capabilities, or how others see you, you could give up on a promotion, of course, but that's not a very satisfying outcome.

Instead, address the issues you found. If you want the pay but not the job, widen your view and look for jobs you do want. If you're missing some skills, you can take courses, find a mentor, or get a coach. If others don't see in you everything you'd like them to see, work on relationships and find ways to be a real contributor.

It's hard work, but if you really want a promotion, you'll find a way to get it done. Go to top Top  Next issue: How to Get Promoted in Place  Next Issue

For more on promotions, see "How to Get Promoted in Place," Point Lookout for August 23, 2006, and "How to Get a Promotion in Line," Point Lookout for September 13, 2006.

303 Secrets of Workplace PoliticsIs every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenknFhWVSGKBSbgjIvner@ChacKNIqUdYIVIiBLxeSoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Workplace Politics:

A young managerDealing with Org Chart Age Inversions
What happens when you learn that your new boss is younger than you are? Or when the first two applicants you interview for a position reporting to you are ten years older than you are? Do you have a noticeable reaction to org chart age inversions?
The Bill of RightsEthical Influence: I
Influencing others can be difficult. Even more difficult is defining a set of approaches to influencing that almost all of us consider ethical. Here's a framework that makes a good starting point.
Male peponapis pruinosa — one of the "squash bees."What Insubordinate Non-Subordinates Want: I
When you're responsible for an organizational function, and someone not reporting to you won't recognize your authority, or doesn't comply with policies you rightfully established, you have a hard time carrying out your responsibilities. Why does this happen?
Three Card Monte, Jaffa, IsraelFooling Ourselves
Humans have impressive abilities to convince themselves of things that are false. One explanation for this behavior is the theory of cognitive dissonance.
U.S. Congressman Jim Moran talks with constituents at a meeting on the federal budgetImpasses in Group Decision-Making: III
In group decision-making, impasses can develop. Some are related to the substance of the issue at hand. With some effort, we can usually resolve substantive impasses. But treating nonsubstantive impasses in the same way doesn't work. Here's why.

See also Workplace Politics and Managing Your Boss for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Prof. Tom PettigrewComing February 21: The Ultimate Attribution Error at Work
When we attribute the behavior of members of groups to some cause, either personal or situational, we tend to make systematic errors. Those errors can be expensive and avoidable. Available here and by RSS on February 21.
Daffodils of the variety Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'And on February 28: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: I
Briefly, when people exhibit narcissistic behavior they're engaging in activity that systematically places their own interests and welfare ahead of the interests and welfare of anyone or anything else. It's behavior that threatens the welfare of the organization and everyone employed there. Available here and by RSS on February 28.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenLGCYFCLKYBCgCtppner@ChacQRXgIozrKCzhopXOoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
Please donate!The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!

Beware any resource that speaks of "winning" at workplace politics or "defeating" it. You can benefit or not, but there is no score-keeping, and it isn't a game.

303 Secrets of Workplace PoliticsIs every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics!
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
My free weekly email newsletter gives concrete tips and suggestions for dealing with the challenging but everyday situations we all face.
A Tip A DayA Tip a Day arrives by email, or by RSS Feed, each business day. It's 20 to 30 words at most, and gives you a new perspective on the hassles and rewards of work life. Most tips also contain links to related articles. Free!
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.