As they share about their career trajectory and the steps they’re taking to get noticed and promoted, I’ve seen four key blunders and blind spots that are in the way of their advancement.
The four top blunders:
They ask for a promotion without having done anything significant to warrant moving up.
So many professionals believe they're ready for more, but haven't demonstrated it. They haven’t done the specific work required to grow their potential, to become more of a leader, or apply their unique skills, vision, and talents in new ways that move the needle for their organization. Yes, they’ve done their job well, but they haven’t actually risen above it. Performing our current role beautifully doesn’t necessarily mean we’re ready for more. So, their request and desire to be promoted is, in fact, premature.
They haven’t built a sufficient support network of mentors, sponsors, and ambassadors around them.
Critical to our success is the help of others. We can’t achieve our big dreams without support. It’s not a solo endeavor to be recognized as a stand-out performer, and to be supported to move to the next level. We need the help of our colleagues, peers, managers and senior leadership to make this promotion happen. And we won’t ascend if we’re alone and in a vacuum, or if we’ve made bitter enemies and burned bridges throughout the organization.
They don’t understand the ecosystem in which they’re operating.
People who are thwarted in their attempts to climb the ladder often make the mistake of evaluating their work independently, without understanding how the organization truly works, and the system around them assesses and evaluates value, importance, and contribution.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you know what your organization deems as superior contribution – exactly what attributes and behaviors are required to move ahead from your level to the next?
- Are you supporting your employer’s highest visions, mission and goals? Do you even know what those are, specifically?
- Have you achieved more than the goals of your role, and made a real difference in a bigger way? If so, how?
- Have you demonstrated that you can lead and effectively manage areas beyond what you’re handling now?
- Do you understand what your boss and senior leadership view as critical to the success and growth of the organization, and are you supporting those mandates in important ways?
- Finally, have you done a 360 assessment to understand exactly what others around the company think of your performance and contribution, and how they feel about working and collaborating with you?
They haven’t been interviewing and networking outside the company.
The worst mistake you can make is to stay at a job for 5-10 years, without ever having interviewed, networked or connected meaningfully with people outside of your organization. I see this error every week with folks I work with, and their career is hurt by staying so insulated and disconnected from their field, industry and other colleagues outside their employer. What often happens is when a layoff or firing comes, these folks feel completely isolated and alone, and don’t know where to begin to reach out, build a LinkedIn profile, network, interview, or achieve a new role that they’ll find satisfying.
Nothing makes you more powerful and confident than interviewing outside your employer and understanding where you stand in the marketplace. Every single professional should be interviewing regularly (every 4 to 6 months) outside of their organization, no matter how happy or unhappy they are in their jobs. But don’t just “kick the tires” – do the internal and external work required to find interesting leads that you’ll enjoy pursuing and benefit from learning about.
Regular interviewing outside your company also helps you understand the changes in your industry, identify potential new opportunities that would be thrilling for you, meet new people who can later support you in a transition, and gain a clearer sense of your essential value in your marketplace. We need to be connecting, networking, socializing and bringing ourselves to market in very proactive ways , all throughout the long arch of our careers.
Recently I was asked by a top media channel to share my top three tips for women aged 30-40 who are seeking to get promoted.
These are my top suggestions for both women and men:
Don’t wait for more leadership to come to you.
Go out and grab it. Identify three core areas that you’re deeply passionate about in terms of outcomes that your organization is working toward (or that outside organizations are involved in), and volunteer to offer your support – lead a project, chair a committee, oversee a new direction or cause. Go out and claim what you want. You will then gain more exposure, and become more visible, capable, confident and more ready to take your career to the next level because you achieved a higher level of contribution.
Make your case, with the 20 “facts” of you.
If you want to be promoted, it won’t just fall in your lap. You have to make a solid, well-validated and well-formulated, irrefutable case for why you should be promoted to the next level. This weekend, sit quietly with yourself (distraction-free – turn off all devices) and write down the 20 powerful “facts” of you - what you’ve achieved, accomplished, made possible, and cleared the way for, that has made a big difference in your work and your company.
Make sure you punctuate the information with as many metrics as you can – the number of new clients you’ve brought in and the dollar value of those clients, the percent of revenue you helped generate, the fading businesses you’ve revitalized, the impact you've made on your industry as a whole, the streamlining of processes you made happen that saved money, the new protocol that you established that changed how your department operates, etc. Understand very clearly what you’ve accomplished and the skills and talents you leveraged, and make your powerful case, with facts, data and metrics.
Find influential sponsors who'll help you when you're not in the room.
Research shows that men are more naturally inclined to find “sponsors” (high-level, influential supporters) to catalyze their advancement. While women understand more than ever that mentorship is critical, what’s still missing is sponsorship – high-level, powerful leaders who will champion you when you’re not in the room. Focus now on building relationships with a few powerful sponsors to whom you’ve already demonstrated your potential, and who will be thrilled to speak for you, open doors and make the introductions you need to ascend to the next level.
Another question I’ve been asked regularly is this:
“If I get passed over for a promotion once, how long should I wait until I try again? And when should I give up and start looking for work elsewhere?”
The answer to that completely depends on how well you are poised for advancement. If you’ve done the work recommended above, you should be ready for advancement by:
- Demonstrating your potential to lead, to more than just your boss or peers
- Developing powerful sponsors who will vouch for your leadership capability and strength
- Building support throughout the organization for your growth
- Achieving important milestones and advancements and moved critical “needles” in the company or your division that prove to the organization that it will benefit from your advancement
Read the original article on Forbes.