It's never too early to prepare for your next career step. Promotions aren't handed out freely; they are earned through dedication, hard work, and careful planning.
Here are the six essential steps to launch your path to promotion:
One of the most critical steps in preparing for a promotion is having an open and honest conversation with your manager. Ensure you schedule this discussion by the end of January. It is crucial to understand what areas your manager believes you need to improve to be promotion-ready. Seek their insights on areas for development and align your goals with the organization's expectations.
Building a robust network within your organization is essential for career growth. A senior professional I coached at a leading Private Equity firm mentioned last June, "You can tell it's promotion season as the requests for meetings come pouring in." Many wait until it's too late, and then the sponsor knows why they are suddenly becoming friendly. Start early in the year by producing a list of individuals you believe might be asked about you during the promotion process. These individuals could include colleagues, mentors, and senior leaders. Reach out to them for a coffee meeting or a casual conversation. Building relaxed relationships early on can help you gain valuable allies and advocates when promotion season begins.
When you can present in front of stakeholders, take it seriously. These become a dress rehearsal for promotion. Craft a well-prepared opening and focus on your delivery. Stakeholders want to promote someone clear, confident, and authentic, so ensure you exhibit these qualities when you present.
Even if you're not in a formal leadership role, you can exhibit leadership qualities in your current position. Own your work, inspire the team when times are tough, and lead by example. That could mean staying focused in meetings, putting your phone away, taking on extra work, and absorbing some of your manager’s stress. Leadership skills hold immense value when it comes to securing promotions.
Your appearance and demeanor can influence how others perceive you in the workplace. Dress professionally and in a manner that aligns with your organization's culture—project confidence and poise, as these traits are often associated with leadership potential. Take a look at those at the level above. How do they dress? How do they act in front of senior people? There is free help all around if you look for it.
The road to promotion can be long and draining. It can sometimes feel like a part-time job. But if you really want it, go after it. Ensure you check in with your manager at least once a month. Ask for constructive feedback. It’s a valuable tool for improvement. Don't shy away from seeking feedback, and use it as an opportunity to grow and refine your skills. Asking for feedback also sends a message that you are serious about improvement.
Positioning yourself for promotion in 2024 requires proactive effort, continuous self-improvement, and unwavering commitment.
Begin by initiating a feedback conversation with your manager, building a strong network, treating presentations seriously, demonstrating leadership, dressing and acting professionally, and actively seeking feedback.
Embrace the journey, and 2024 might be the year of your well-deserved promotion. Good luck in your pursuit of career advancement!