Do you worry about your promotion prospects even if you feel you’re doing a great job?
I know I did. Every time I was up for promotion, I worried for the entire year. Maybe more.
What if all my hard work went unrecognized?
What if I didn’t get promoted and had to wait another year to try again?
Worrying is natural when you care deeply about something but don’t control the outcome. After all, we can’t award ourselves that well-deserved promotion.
But unfortunately, worrying doesn't help at all.
Focus on what you can control
Instead of focusing on the outcome you can’t control, focus on what you can control. In this case, that’s putting yourself in the best position to be promoted. I call that being promotion-ready.
Framing your promotion this way encourages you to take action instead of waiting and wondering. The beauty of taking action is this: once you’ve done everything in your power, you can feel comfortable to let the chips fall where they may. After all, you will have done everything humanly possible.
So, if you want to be promoted, you’ve got to show you’re promotion-ready.
The question is, what does that look like?
Of course, there are the typical requirements like work ethic, leadership qualities, and being engaged, determined and resourceful. And you have to be great at the technical skills required for the job. However, all of that is necessary but insufficient these days.
Beyond that, you need to demonstrate some key milestones to be seen as promotion-ready by the decision-makers in your organization.
7 Signs That You’re Promotion-Ready
While there will be differences across organizations, in my experience, these seven tend to be universal signs that someone is ready to be promoted.
1. You’ve got things under control
Or, as I like to say, you’ve “got your job in a box”.
This means you have a strategy that’s producing results, your team is performing at a high level, and you’re not lurching from crisis to crisis. You’ve created a bench of people who can step up and do your job or at least parts of it.
In other words, you’re able to take on more.
2. You’re curious, and learning and growing
Instead of remaining static, you’re expanding your horizons. You’re taking initiative and gaining experiences that allow you to have new insights.
You’re asking great questions about the business, staying abreast of the latest trends and developments in your sector, and acquiring new skills.
3. You’re trusted to represent the organization
You’re comfortable in more senior circles and increasingly seen as an “insider” and “one of us”.
When there’s an external event, you’re entrusted with representing the organization’s interests. You have the confidence to build connections beyond your unit that bring greater value as well as a different perspective.
You have the presence to be taken seriously in any setting.
4. You’re thinking about the bigger picture
People see you as someone who thinks strategically and has an eye out for how to take your unit and the organization forward in the best possible way.
You’re a franchise builder who’s open to challenging the status quo in order to keep the organization on the leading edge.
5. You’re battle-tested
You have the maturity and poise under pressure to handle the challenges that inevitably come your way. That includes knowing when to ask for help, being skilled at forging alliances, and having the judgement to know when to negotiate versus when to step back.
You’ve had enough experiences to be known as someone people can count on when the going gets tough.
6. You’ve shown the drive and desire to do more
Don’t be caught up in the myth of the reluctant leader who has to be persuaded to accept the mantle of a bigger role. It’s not “blind ambition” but rather your willingness to step up to greater responsibilities.
All other things equal, it’s the person who wants to lead who gets promoted. Not someone who has to be convinced and cajoled into moving up.
7. You’re influential
You’re known and respected by your stakeholders, and have the interpersonal skills to influence people and outcomes.
You’re someone that senior people can see running a part of the organization, and maybe even the whole organization, one day.
When that’s the way you’re viewed, it becomes a question of when, not if, you get promoted. And that’s a great position to be in.
Promotion-readiness is in the eye of the beholder
The reality is that being promotion-ready is in the eye of the beholder. So, take these seven qualities and pressure test them in the context of your organization.
How do the people who’ve been getting promotions – especially those on the fast track – fit these descriptions? Are there other qualities that matter in your organization?
Then, it’s your turn. Where are you strong and where do you need to do some more work to be promotion-ready?
Keep asking, “what else can I do?” Then, keep taking actions.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Where are you strong and where do you need to do some work?
Leave a comment and let me know.
Stay tuned for the third instalment in this series where I’ll cover the five key areas to pay attention to and the steps to take to get promoted. I think you’re going to love it.