Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 6, Issue 37;   September 13, 2006: How to Get a Promotion in Line

How to Get a Promotion in Line


If you want a promotion in line — a promotion to the next supervisory level in your organization — what should you do now to make it come about? What risks are there?
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of Ghana

On January 1, 1997, Kofi Annan of Ghana became the first United Nations staffer to rise to the position of Secretary General — a most significant promotion in line. Photo by the US Mission in Geneva, courtesy Wikimedia Commmons.

Promotions in line typically entail accepting responsibility for supervising people in positions like the one you hold now. Promotions in line, like other promotions, aren't about reward or recognition — they satisfy employer needs. When employers promote people in line, they're trying to fill positions with the right people, at the right time, for the right price.

The right people
People promoted in line usually know the organization well. They've established valuable relationships and they know what's needed and what's expected.
The right time
Most organizations do require that the position be open to any employee, and complying with that policy does take some time. But hiring from within or promoting someone in line is usually faster than hiring from outside.
The right price
Promoting in line saves money. A shorter and simpler search process, a shallower learning curve, and zero recruiting fees make such moves attractive to employers. But most important, we can often avoid the premium compensation that might be needed to attract highly qualified people from elsewhere.

Here are some tactics that help you land a promotion in line.

Do your current job well,
but seize opportunities to
demonstrate that you can
handle the responsibilities
of the job you seek
Demonstrate capability
Do your current job well, but seize opportunities to demonstrate that you can handle the responsibilities of the job you seek. Don't pursue such opportunities too aggressively, but grab them when they come by.
Be replaceable
If you're critical to organizational success in your current position, you're difficult to replace. Not so good if you want to be promoted. Share what you know. Be ready to leave your old job behind, and be ready to move into the new job.
Make the people you work with look good
Promotion in line can sour relationships with those of your current peers who would be reporting to you. Making the people you work with now look good helps them, helps the organization, and dampens many of their concerns about your promotion. And it makes your about-to-be-peers comfortable, too.
Be flexible about relocation and travel
Be willing to relocate and travel. Balance your own needs with the needs of the company, and keep in mind that the balance you choose affects both your chances for promotion and your personal life.
Keep a working journal
Enter in your working journal contributions you make that bear on your target position. You probably won't be conveying this information to anyone else, but the writing motivates you to look for — and do — things you can write about.

Two final tests are perhaps most telling. How would you like working for someone like you? And how would you like supervising someone like you? If you have some misgivings about either question, you probably have some things you want to change. Today would be a good day to start. Go to top Top  Next issue: When You Think Your Boss Is Incompetent  Next Issue

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

For more on promotions, see "How to Get a Promotion: the Inside Stuff," Point Lookout for August 16, 2006, and "How to Get Promoted in Place," Point Lookout for August 23, 2006.

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