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How to Get Promoted

There Are Certain Things That Increase The Odds You Will Advance. Here is What You Need to Do.

I worked with a young lady once who seemed to have an obsession with getting promoted and making more money. She had been with the company nearly two years and had received a few bonuses along the way and the same annual increase as her peers. Her performance reviews had been above average but not stellar. She had the required education and had come to the company with several years of experience in her field.

We had lunch one day and all she could talk about was how she had been passed over for promotion and that she was thinking about leaving the company if she did not get moved up soon. I asked her why she felt she had been passed over and her reasons centered on her belief that her boss did not like her and had his favorite employees. Her reasoning had nothing to do with her performance and attitude on the job.

I happened to be speaking with the young lady’s boss a few weeks later. The discussion was about succession planning and who he saw as high-potential employees and why. When the discussion got around to the young lady, the boss was very clear about what her shortcomings were and why he had not promoted her. The following list includes what he told me, along with some things I have added for your consideration:

Ask for feedback. When you do this, it shows the boss that you are truly seeking to improve and are not waiting for you boss to give you feedback. It also shows that you are open to criticism. High performers thrive on feedback, and good leaders know that. Caution – be prepared to hear some tough things and say “thank you” regardless of the feedback you get.

Upgrade your skills. Take classes and constantly read about your field of expertise. Always be on the lookout for new and different ways to do your job better. Never be satisfied with the status quo when it comes to mastering your work. The skills that got you where you are now will not get you where you want to be. Do not wait for your boss to suggest further training or education, seek it out yourself.

Have solutions. A big part of everyone’s day at work is dealing with problems. If you want to get promoted, try to fix the problems yourself. If you can’t, raise the issue to your boss but have a solution in mind. Present your thoughts on how this problem can be solved. It might not be a workable solution, but it will show the boss that you are thinking.

Be a team player. Bosses watch closely how their employees work together. The higher you move up in a company, the more you will have to collaborate with others, horizontally and vertically. Learn about behavior styles in the workplace and learn to flex and bend your style to meet the styles of others. Teams are an important component of productivity, so make sure you fit well as a member of your team.

Go the extra mile. Everyone in business is short-handed. Everywhere I go, I see people and departments overwhelmed with the workload. Yes, you are busy also and that will never change. Bosses are constantly looking for people that can handle more than their share of work and do it well. Raise your hand and ask your boss what more you can do. Caution – make sure your current level of work is being handled well before you volunteer to take on more.

Be professional. Dress appropriately at all times and act like an adult. Ask questions when you do not know the answers. Seek opportunities to make presentations in front of peers or other departments. Write articles and find opportunities to make yourself known in trade associations. Complaining is not professional, so do not do it. Keep a positive attitude and do not be a clock-watcher. Take notes in meetings and in discussion with your boss.

Do not expect rewards. Employees that have a sense of entitlement are a turn-off for most bosses. Bosses know that rewarding good employees is a big part of their jobs. If you make it known that you expect certain things, regardless of how you are performing, you will be seen as someone who is constantly in search of the brass ring vs. putting in the time and effort required to receive a just reward.

No drama. Word travels fast in organizations. If you start or contribute to gossip, your boss will find out and it will hinder your advancement. Steer clear of the grapevine and you will be better off for it.

Promotions are not for everyone, but if it’s something you seek, the best advice is to first and foremost – do your job and do it well. If you do, rewards and promotions will come.

Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..