Hard Work is Crucial (But Not Enough to Earn Your Next Promotion)

“Simply doing the work does not make you promotable,” said Maren Perry, president of Arden Coaching. Hard work and diligent effort is necessary to be considered for a promotion, but the work alone will not get you the promotion you may richly deserve.

Perry explains that’s because a promotion is much more than an assessment of your work output and functional expertise. “You need to be noticed by decision-makers, demonstrate that you are ready for bigger and better things, and show that your promotion will help your business accomplish its goals.”

Get noticed

Getting noticed by your company’s senior team is not a matter of shameless pandering. It’s about making sure that at least some aspects of your work are seen publicly — beyond your department or your immediate supervisor.

Look for chances to be in the right place at the right time. Seek opportunities to work on interdepartmental projects. Pay attention to big-picture trends at your organization — what new product or service lines will drive growth over the next five years? Which executives are poised to step into senior leadership roles as Baby Boomers retire? Explore ways to contribute to your company’s emerging new lines of business. What projects might allow you to collaborate with your company’s strongest leaders?

Also, while pandering won’t help, sincere, authentic networking will. In addition to your work output, your company’s leaders need to connect with you as a person. For more about networking read Arden Coaching’s article, “6 Proven Networking Strategies (For Introverts and Extroverts Alike!).”

Show that you are ready

Perry says, “It’s up to you to demonstrate that you are prepared to take on new responsibilities — that you are ready for a new role. ‘New’ is the key. Promotions typically involve roles and responsibilities that you probably haven’t had before: there’s no track record. So what is it that will make your senior team think that you are ready to move from being a great senior sales consultant to a great national sales director?”

Part of the equation is displaying your expertise and showing that you can apply it at a higher level. Another key element is exhibiting trustworthiness. Your superiors need to be convinced that they can trust you with a higher level of organizational access, information, and responsibility.

In addition, you must develop your “executive presence.” Executive presence is a combination of mindset, emotional intelligence, and body language that conveys a strong sense of insight and leadership to others. 

“When we engage in coaching with leaders and aspiring leaders to develop their executive presence, we begin with their mindset in addition to their behaviors,” said Perry. “At times, people talk about ‘stage presence,’ but executive presence has nothing to do with acting. It can’t be faked. Executive presence needs to be genuine. And that comes with coaching, personal reflection, and practice.”

For more about executive presence, read Arden Coaching’s article, “Executive Presence: From Emotional Intelligence to Body Language.”

Make sure the company sees the benefit for itself

Most people don’t think about this, but it is absolutely essential that your organization believes its goals will be better served by promoting you into a new role. They have to be convinced that if they promote you, the promotion will help the company.

According to Perry, it may sound counter-intuitive, but never make yourself indispensable. “Some people work very hard to make sure that they have strong expertise in a particular function and that they alone know how to do something — a job that the company cannot do without.” The irony, says Perry, is that in making yourself indispensable, you are also making yourself un-promotable. “If Kayla is the only person who understands the CRM system, she can’t be promoted — the company needs her right where she is.”

So have the courage to cross-train. It helps you professionally to understand the other  functions of your organization, and it benefits you to ask whom you can train to do your indispensable task, so that you can take on a higher level of responsibility.

For more about moving from solid worker to a leader at your organization, read Arden Coaching’s “Five Ways to Progress From Worker Bee to Strategic Asset.”

To learn more about how executive coaching can build leadership skills and help you achieve a higher level of career success, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.