Many of us may have been raised to let our hard work “speak for itself.” Unfortunately, when you’re angling for a promotion, that may not be enough. While corporate ladder “climbers” don’t have a good reputation, the truth is that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be recognized for your performance.
If you have your eyes set on a better title or bigger salary in the future, being a valuable member of the organization is a critical first step. But if you really want to stand out as a future leader, here are several steps you can take to learn how to get promoted at work.
1. Make your boss’ job easier
As someone who’s been in your role for a little while, you likely know what your supervisor worries about the most. Taking those concerns off their plate can help them see you as dependable and capable. It reinforces that you’re a team player and invested in the bigger picture. Try stepping up to cover their responsibilities while they’re out-of-office so they can enjoy their time away.
2. Work on your communication skills
Getting promoted usually means stepping into a leadership role. The more people you’re responsible for, the more important your communication skills will be. Spend some time now learning how to communicate with different types of people. Learning how to communicate goes hand-in-hand when learning how to get promoted. Investing in these relationships now will smooth the transition if and when you become their boss.
3. Ask how you can improve
You must already be doing an incredible job in your current position to show your superiors that you are capable of handling a promotion. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Ask how you can get better. Take time to develop new skills and practice getting feedback like a boss. If you can receive constructive criticism without getting defensive, you’ll show that you’re ready for the next level.
4. Be nice
Develop strong relationships within your organization. For most bosses, the decision to promote someone also requires the input of others. Maintaining good relationships will encourage other colleagues to go to bat for you when it matters the most. Always treat everyone with kindness and respect.
5. Recognize others
Your promotion isn’t just about you. Companies promote those who can motivate and manage successful teams. If you’re trying to get promoted, you may be tempted to sing your own praises. However, by recognizing others, you’ll actually make yourself look good too. And who knows — the co-worker you shout out might return the favour.
6. Communicate with your boss
Don’t be afraid to tell your manager that you want a promotion. They can help you develop core competencies and keep you in mind when the next promotion arises. You don’t have to start the conversation by demanding a promotion. Instead, ask them what it will take to get one. This will put your boss in the position of a guide or a mentor, and get them equally invested in your career success.
7. Bring in revenue
Every organization cares about its bottom line. If you can bring in revenue (or save money), you’ll be seen as a valuable part of the company. This will put you in a strong position to advocate based on your results — and justify the accompanying pay raise.
8. Pay attention to others that have been promoted
Has someone else been promoted recently? Ask them how they did it. Did they take on additional responsibilities over time, go back to school, or step into a newly-created position? See what you can learn from their experience. Ask if they have any feedback or advice for you.
9. Become more resilient
When your promotion does come, it’s time to celebrate — but it may bring its own stress, too. Leaders have more “stage time,” but they also deal with more people and higher stakes. Develop resilience now by working on your ability to manage stress and improving your work-life balance. These “soft” leadership skills will pay off as you advance to higher levels.
10. Create value wherever you can
Many people think that dominating every conversation is a leadership trait. Be intentional when you speak so that you become known for only contributing valuable input. Look for ways to streamline processes so you can be more efficient. Invest that freed-up time into developing your skillset or projects that deserve your extra attention.
If you’ve done the work and put in the hours, approach your boss with confidence that you are the right person to be promoted. Your years of experience, work ethic, and knowledge of your organization are valuable assets, and when you have success, so does the company. How to get promoted at work is really just a matter of how you do your job — to the best of your ability and with the desire to get better.