I had a kid reach out to me last week and ask how he could get promoted at his current company. I call him a kid, because he was probably 20 years younger than I, so I’ve reached that point in my life I can start calling adult professionals, ‘kids’.
Laurie Ruettimann and I had this talk just a couple weeks ago, right after she turned 40. I told her, “I’ve finally reached that point in my life where I have 20 years of solid work experience, but I feel bad about telling people that number!” 20 years of experience sounds old! I remember when I had five years of work experience and I would try and stretch it to 7 or 8 years of experience by adding in college jobs!
Now, I have the legit experience and I want to make it sound like it’s ten years!
So, this kid wants to get promoted. He’s got just under 5 years of experience and he’s itching for more. We’ve all been there. Here’s what I told him:
“You need to do two things in this order:
1st – Put together a self-development plan with activities and goals and a timeline. Show that you’re working on your ‘opportunity’ areas. (Opportunity areas are weaknesses for the GenXers reading this)
2nd – You need to make your direct supervisor keenly aware of this plan, and (the most important part) you need to ask that supervisor for help in accomplishing your plan. Have very specific things your boss can do to help you complete your development plan.”
We then talked about what some of those things would look like based on what he told me he thought his ‘opportunity’ areas were.
Bosses love to promote people they believe they’ve helped and mentored. It’s a great ego stroke, and they get bonus points from the organization because they are ‘developing’ talent. Bosses don’t get credit for hiring great talent. They get credit for promoting great talent.
It’s Organizational Behavior 101 at it’s finest.
It doesn’t have to be very sophisticated. Bosses like to promote people that they believe are engaged in their job and the company. By you taking the initiative to have your own development plan, and not wait for them to offer it up to you, and by you asking them for help, you just doubled your chances of getting promoted.
There are a lot of moving factors in anything like this, but if you are working for someone who is respected in the organization, and you have an above average performance as compared to others in your work group, this will almost always play out well for you.
Want to get promoted? It only takes two steps.