The fourth quarter is always a great time to evaluate your position in your career. Perhaps you’ve been asking yourself the following questions: Am I where I want to be? Have I accomplished my career goals for the past year? Is this even the career path I want to be on? Have I hit the ceiling in my current position? Do I see a future for myself at my current company?
When I started working in retail, I had no idea where it would take me. I was starting at the bottom to learn the ropes because I wanted to own an online boutique in the future. I started as a sales associate and within 5 months, I was promoted to the supervisor position. Another 3 months went by and I was promoted to assistant manager. But even with all of these advancements, I decided to move on from that company because there was a lack of opportunities for growth.
Finding another retail job was a challenge. Companies were only hiring seasonal team members and none of them were at a management level. After months of searching for a job, again, I had to start at the bottom. Although disappointed and scared out of my mind,I took the seasonal position. After my first holiday season and 6 months on the job, I was offered a full-time position. A year later, I was promoted to manager.
During the past three years as a manager, I’ve had so many team members hit a ceiling on the corporate ladder. After hitting the ceiling, their performance begins to slip, they become less engaged, and eventually, they become completely disgruntled and no longer able to perform their job duties. Having an engaged team requires laying out a clear path for their progress. As a team member, you always want to know if there is the next level for you and how you can get there.
Last week, the management team began discussing our annual promotions and bonus decisions. In March of every year, we distribute promotions, bonuses, and raises company-wide, rewarding the amazing work of some of our team members.
Our initiative to honor the hard work of our team members with promotions doesn’t seem too far from the general attitude of managers. Employers are growing more and more in favor of internal hires. A study by Matthew Bidwell, an Associate Professor of Management at Wharton, shows that external hires made 18% more than those promoted internally in the same jobs. External hires also scored worse on performance reviews and were 61% more likely to be fired from their new jobs than those who had been promoted from within the firm.
As an internal hire, you are more valuable to your company than any external hire could be at the moment. I want you to be among those getting that promotion this year. Here are 5 ways to increase your chances of getting that promotion.
1. Change your mindset
Getting a promotion is your responsibility. You may completely deserve to be promoted because of the results you’ve achieved but my minister always says, You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.” The first time I ever got promoted, I had a manager who really believed in me and made my case. They set a precedent for me and I thought that it was written in stone. I was wrong. The two next times I received a promotion, it had to be completely initiated and proven by me.
Over the years as a manager, team members have complained about being overlooked. However, the management team had no inclination that they wanted to be promoted or had any interest in getting to the next level. Hopefully, you have a manager who feels partially responsible for your development or growth, but this is no guarantee. The only thing you can completely control is speaking up for yourself and getting yourself in a position to get want you want. As the saying goes, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.”
2. Get clear expectations
Chances are you won’t get promoted because you spoke up about wanting to get to the next level. You should also leave that conversation with clear expectations and steps to get to that promotion. Clear expectations need deliverables with deadlines. Hopefully, your skill set, proven results, and other qualifications are close to the level needed for the new position. Get clear with your manager about where you currently are and where you want to be.
It’s amazing how unclear many team members are about what exactly is expected of them. Even if you have no interest in ever being promoted, you should know what’s expected of you to do your job well. Further, many managers aren’t compelled to bring clarity to the situation because it allows them to move the needle at any moment. By having this conversation and getting clear expectations in writing, you’ll have a much better case the next time promotion conversations happen.
Once you have clear expectations, it’s up to you to hit the home runs. Exceeding the expectations of your current role is essential for getting promoted to a new role. It won’t be enough to merely meet those expectations but to exceed them. The allure of external hires is often what you’re competing with, not someone else on your team. Many employers overestimate the skill level of external hires and underestimate the time it will take them to get up to speed. You make your case much easier when you build a reputation and portfolio that proves you deliver on what’s expected and give a little more.
4. Keep records
Chances are your manager has a number of team members they’re responsible for. They’ll never keep the records of your results quite like you. Now that you have clear expectations determined and reviewed by you and your manager written down, start jotting down notes when you achieve results. Don’t be shy. You are the only person paying detailed attention to the results you’re achieving.
In the past, I’ve found it difficult to be really frank about my results. Obviously, I’d much rather highlight other people than myself. I had to learn quickly that would only get me so far. I needed to be prepared to recall my results and make the case for any promotion.
5. Check in regularly
You will also have the responsibility of checking in regularly. If you don’t have a standing meeting set by your manager, take the initiative. From time to time, arrange a meeting with your manager to update them on your progress. Let them know the results you’ve achieved and your trajectory on achieving the rest of those results. At the top of 2016, I let my manager know that I wanted to hit all of my goals out of the ballpark this year. He now knows that I’m not here for the games this year and neither is he. Your manager should be an ally. They’re not completely responsible for your promotion but they do have a responsibility to help you grow and develop.