When you’re up for promotion, you’ve got some choices to make. Are you going to wing it and hope for the best? Or are you going to have a plan?

I’ve tried both and learned the hard way that hope is not a strategy.

It’s always better to have a plan.

While you might get promoted without really trying – as they say, even a broken clock tells time correctly twice a day – you’ll substantially improve your chances by having a plan.

The 5 Ps of Promotion

Making a plan is the type of activity that tends to be put off until later when you “have more time”. But the reality is that you will never have the time until you make it.

If you’re serious about getting that promotion, invest in yourself and make the time to create your promotion plan.

The good news is, planning doesn’t have to be complicated! It can even be simple if you focus on the 5 things you need to know. I call them the 5 Ps of Promotion.

Here are the 5 Ps, and why they’re important when you want to get promoted.

1. Understand the Promotion Process

The first step is to get clear on the promotion process. It’s different at every organization, and there are nuances at different levels of seniority.

Knowing the process is essential so you can time your efforts in the most effective way possible. I know people who have missed the boat because they weren’t clear on what it takes to get promoted. They made assumptions and got it wrong.

Knowing the process takes more than just reading the HR manual – there are other things to consider. So make sure you’re doing the kind of homework that will put you in the flow of how things really work.

2. Know What You Bring as the Product

As the candidate in the promotion process, you are the Product. That means you have to know what you bring to the party. If you aren’t confident about the value you bring, you won’t be able to communicate it effectively to anyone else.

But knowing yourself as the product from your own perspective will only take you so far. It’s important to focus on the qualities that will make you stand out, and address any gaps you may have as a candidate.

The key is to get accurate information about yourself as a Product, and to set up a system for doing that. Asking the opinions of those you trust and respect is a great place to start.

3. Make Use of Your Platform

Every role you have gives you a Platform for showing what you can do. Your Platform is the stage you’re performing on. This is another way to think about your role, job or seat within the organization. It’s the foundation you stand on to learn, grow, do great work and shine.

Having deep insight into the platform you have and the one you want is crucial when you’re preparing for a promotion. This is what clues you in to the gaps you need to fill while also providing an important tool to help you land that promotion.

Make sure you know everything you need to know about your Platforms – your current one and the next one.

4. Focus on the Right People

For better or worse, promotions are not made based on multiple-choice exams where there is one right answer, and a machine grades the exam. They’re more like essay-based tests, but with multiple graders all with different perspectives.

People decide promotions, and there’s judgment involved. Knowing who the right people are, and having them know you and your work makes all the difference.

When you’re time constrained, it’s all the more important to make sure you’re focusing on the right people at the right times and in the right ways.

5. Figure out Your Positioning

Once you’ve invested some time and energy on figuring out the first four P’s, you’re ready for Positioning yourself in the most effective way.

In marketing, the most important thing is a product’s positioning – the message and storyline that conveys what the product is about, and why someone would want to buy it.

So, positioning is about making the case for your promotion. You need to put the Product, which is you, in the best light possible. After all, how will people know how strong a candidate you are unless you get out there and have the right conversations with the right people at the right times?

When you get clear on how to position yourself, you’ll be able to deliver your message about your Product to the right People in the best way. And knowing how to position yourself gives you greater confidence when you approach the promotion process, and it will show to others.

Your Plan for Promotion

Once you know the 5 Ps for your promotion process – the Process, Product, Platform, People, and Positioning – you’re ready to create your plan.

The plan will be different for each of us because we’ll each have a different starting point on the 5 Ps. Any one of them on their own is necessary but insufficient.

Where the power comes is in combining all 5 Ps into a tailored plan that works for you.

Armed with your plan, you’ll head into the promotion process with greater confidence and less stress. Just think, all that time and energy saved by not worrying gives you more time to devote to doing a great job and enjoying the journey.

So, where do you stand ahead of your next promotion and where do you need to do some work?

Which of the 5 Ps of Promotion would make the biggest difference for you if you worked on it right now?

Leave a comment and let me know.