Earn Your Promotion: Guidance on Getting the Job You Want

workplace, team, business meeting

Self promotion in the workplace

I bet you thought I was going to go on and on about social media and bragadocious things you can say about yourself.  HA!  Most people never promote themselves because they cannot!  What do I mean by that?  When was the last time you walked into your boss’ office and said, “See that corner office over there?  I want it.  Give me a promotion!”  Would the boss respond positively or negatively to that?  Who knows?

The usual promotion process is completely different.  You work at your desk or visit your clients in the field, or deliver your products and install them, then go home at the end of the night, only to start over in the morning.  If you do get a promotion, it may be due to someone above you quitting or retiring or (God forbid) getting fired.  The boss looks around and you just happen to be close to what he wants in that position and you get promoted.  Some promotions are proscribed due to length of service.  In rare cases, the boss finds someone he wants to promote, goes to them and tells them what classes to take, how to improve their service, what questions to ask and mentors them into a position.

Getting more pay 

In the sit-coms of the 1960’s and 70’s, one of the plot points in common was going to the boss to ask for a raise.  This plot point was considered good comic material because nearly everyone in the work force could identify with this situation.  They were not asking for promotions because that was a change in the type of work they enjoyed.  They just wanted more money for the work they were already doing.  No one seems to be doing that now.  We seek to get group raises.  We seek to get new benefits as a group.  Imagine everyone in a company going in individually to the HR department and negotiating a new wage and benefit package tailored to individual situations!  “I’ll take a 2% raise if you throw in 20% more in health benefits.”  “I need a 5% raise, my wife is pregnant.”  “I don’t really need a raise, but if you could get me an extra week’s vacation so I can see my kid graduate from Harvard, that would be great!”  If you are doing relatively better work than those of your colleagues, shouldn’t you get relatively more money?  Businesses pay the position, not the worker for the amount of work completed.

That brings up the question, “How do I get more money if everyone in my department gets the same?”  Some companies have a Pay For Performance benefit–a bonus paid for going beyond the expected output.  One business I worked in, this was the case.  They set a standard, and watched as all the workers changed their emphasis to fulfilling the requirement for PFP.  The frustration came in when the company changed the standards and the areas for PFP randomly.  The standard for processing accounts was 350 in a day.  One person did 734.  (The record still stands…)  The company reviewed this process and changed it to require more steps, then they raised the standard to 500 in a day.  Subsequently, no one got the bonus.  Then, ten days later, the PFP was based on the number of phone call clients serviced.  There suddenly was no purpose in processing accounts efficiently and quickly. The focus changed to getting orders quickly and getting off the phone so you could take another call.  The PFP changed again a mere six days later.  In a short time, the workers were ignoring the new PFP emails containing the new standards. The PFP slowly disappeared.

The solution is to get promoted

The way to get more money in a company that pays by position is to change position–go into management, get a promotion.  Most companies, however, do not have a chart that says, “If you do this, this, that, those, this, this and this, you can get promoted to Manager 1st class.”  This is silly.  When you are in elementary school, if you spell your words correctly, do your arithmetic correctly, do 5 book reports, get good scores on your social studies, then you will pass on to the next grade.  It’s true in each school system up through college.  When you are in scouts, if you complete these badge requirements, do this leadership project, and help at least 15 little old ladies across the street, you get promoted.  In sports, if you come to practice every day and do all the required exercises and improve your technique, you get to play varsity.  Of course in every activity, there will be some requirements that need to be met outside of group practices, but generally this is the assumption.

But in the corporate world, if there is no chart, how do you know what to do to get promoted?  Research!  What qualifications are required to get the promotion to the next level?  You can get that by going on line to find out what they are in the company you work for, and for companies in the same type of business. What are the education and experience requirements?  Are there certification tests to be passed?  Are there management positions available?  What qualities do you already have?  Can you develop these qualities, or learn the skills?  Can you join activities or clubs that will develop these skills and qualities?

Ask questions!

Get an appointment with someone in the position you aspire to.  Ask him/her for help!  How did that person get the job?  Was it from an outside company or from school?  Was it from within the company?  What does this position entail?  Is it something you could do?

Get an appointment (or just coffee!) with the supervisor in charge of the department and tell him/her that you are interested in a promotion.  Ask this person, point blank, what you would have to do to get a promotion.  Most importantly, take notes!

Take Steps

Now that you know what it takes, start by finding places to get the skills and qualities you need.  If you need to improve communication skills, for instance, then you should take communications classes.  You could join a speaking club.  You could get self-help books from the library, or you could buy them and place them in a prominent place in your office or work space.  (Hint:  you need to actually read them.)  If you need leadership skills, work with an organization that develops those skills.  Scouts are always looking for more adult participation.  Charitable organizations and churches are places to practice your leadership.  Think about community involvement, classes in management, or just hanging around a really good leader and watching him/her in action.  Check Leadership blogs. https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/solomonsadvisor.wordpress.com is one I read.  There are many others.

In conclusion, if you want that promotion, you need to promote yourself first.  Become the person it takes to fill the role, then improve on that until you are more than what’s required.  Ask what it takes and then do what it takes.




What if you have nothing to say?

Writers don’t start out being writers.  They start out as thinkers.  Unfortunately, most thinkers don’t have that sounding board; the ideas are bounced about inside his own skull.  It’s not unlike singing in the shower, you sound like you should be in Carnegie Hall, until you’re IN Carnegie Hall and Simon Crowe is holding his head in his hands.

The writers of the “Spotlight on Grace” were all thinkers.  They were adept at coming up with topics for short articles and presentations, so they each knew how to be efficient and to the point.  They just didn’t know they were going to be writers.  How did this book, this writing exercise, this monumental learning experience come about then?

We were sitting in a Panera’s discussing our upcoming plans for a club we all belong to when the discussion turned to leadership.  Many of us felt that our club was being singled out for being creative, enthusiastic, seeking and filling needs of the district as necessary, and exhibiting a rapport among members, intelligence, long term planning, and dedication to the concepts and precepts of the parent organization that few, if any, other clubs had.  This should have been a good thing, but instead, we were getting censured.

Transition to book writing

The conversations got more detailed and specific incidents came out that had upset our sensibilities.   Then the fateful question was asked, “How would you have handled this situation differently?”  What was surprising is that each and every member looked at a different aspect to either the situation as it was posed, the long-term consequences of the action, reaction, or inaction taken by the subject of our conversation, or the motives behind the actions.  The main overarching theme of all the answers was that each of us would have handled the situation with more grace.

You could see the light bulbs popping up.  Slowly it dawned on us.  The purpose of our club was to help us transition from club members to professional speakers, trainers, coaches, and facilitators. Our adviser, Sheryl Roush http://sherylroush.com/ said that the first step on this journey was to write a book.  We had a THEME!!!!  Writing a book together might be just the vehicle we needed to get our collective feet into the water.

The meetings we were having would allow us to get together on a regular basis and provide enumerable benefits to the members.  We could each corral our thoughts into a chapter instead of writing a full book.  We could get used to how book writing and publishing could be accomplished, therefore, if we decided we wanted to, each of us would have the ability to do a project individually as well.  Our newly formed group didn’t have to depend on luck or charisma or contacts from a personal standpoint, we could work with the expertise and connections of the members!

“Spotlight on Grace” project was born!  Each member chose an idea to base a chapter on, and each member reviewed and edited the other members’ contributions.  We gained a great deal of insight into our fellow collaborators, and a deeper understanding of how our lives intersected.  Most importantly, it was fun!  The bouncing of ideas around the table, the wide interests and approaches to the same subject were stimulating.  This collaboration opened the doors to help us transition from thinkers to writers.  Up until now, our writing had been limited to 500-700 words, and now our minimum was 5000!  Yet, the words flowed.

We were now writers!  But we also learned about publishing, copy rights, corporate law, accounting issues, and much more than just the writing.  We even got to the point where more ideas started flowing.  We started promoting our book, getting endorsements and testimonials, and marketing our group as a resource for other aspiring writers and professional speakers, trainers, coaches, and facilitators.  It is exciting!  It is fun!  It’s a great start. Get a hold of the book.  See what a group of thinkers turned writers can do with some proper collaboration!