It may seem strange to discuss and think about career progression in the middle of a global pandemic. There sadly have been a number of redundancies and some companies have implemented hiring freezes. But however counterintuitive this may seem, I would argue that this exactly the time you should be thinking about getting ahead.
The thing is, getting promoted is about timing as much as anything else. Of course, you need to have the skills and the results, but ultimately if the time isn’t right and the opportunity isn’t there, those things won’t be much help. So given that we cannot influence when the time will be right again (whenever I figure out how to do that, you’ll be the first to know!), what you should do instead is make sure that you will be ready when that happens. Here’s how:
1. Impress to progress – there’s a lot of debate around having to go the extra mile to land a promotion, but the truth is that the competition is fierce and opportunities are limited, and therefore anything that can set you apart is good. The first time I asked for a promotion (which by the way, should always come with a pay rise, otherwise what’s the bloody point?) I was told that sometimes it’s not enough to do your job well, you need to show how you have exceed expectations. It made me realise a) that promotions aren’t a given (e.g. “after 2 years as an assistant, I should be made an executive” is not a thing, people!), and b) that it’s important to understand the value you bring to a company in order to leverage that to your advantage.
2. Perform consistently – there’s nothing more difficult than asking for a promotion when you don’t have the results to back it up. You need to make sure you can show a consistent performance against whatever KPIs your role entails, in order to demonstrate you’re ready to get to the next level. If you can’t perform consistently in your current role, chances are you’re not ready for a step up (with some very few exceptions). If you don’t have clear KPIs, make a plan with your manager to create some so that you can track these.
3. Be a team player – collaboration is the foundation of any business, no matter what your role is, chances are you’ll either work closely with your team or will have to liaise with other departments and stakeholders. Being able to show that you can successfully collaborate with others is a brilliant way to get ahead, especially when trying to transition between entry-level into a mid-level role with management responsibilities.
4. Lift as you (try) to climb – borrowing this from Viv Groskop’s book (that you can find here), this is in my opinion a brilliant way to show leadership at any level of your career. Make sure you give positive feedback and credit to your colleagues for projects you are working together on. Take a moment to help others in and outside your company and support them in their own journeys. First of all, it’s the right thing to do and it’s also a wonderful way to strengthen your company connections and show leadership potential.
5. Be honest – the worst thing you can do when wanting to progress your career is forget to communicate this effectively. If you want a promotion, talk to your manager about it. Be honest with them, tell them your objectives and goals, help them to get excited about the potential your career can have. This is perhaps what took me the most to realise. People invest in people. If you’re only talking about numbers and results, you may miss out on connecting with your manager on what progressing truly means to you.
Although the chances of getting promoted this year are slim unless you had already been discussing this before the pandemic, the way you will set yourself up and prepare for it will be key to making sure when the time is right and stars align, you will move forward.
If you’re interested in knowing how to prepare for a promotion, stay tuned as I’ll be sharing my top tips next week.