I hear people complaining that they can’t get ahead.
They want to leave the cubicle for the corner office, but it feels like they will never get there.
They watch others get promoted, while they have been in the same position for the last 5 years.
It’s funny, it’s almost like they are waiting for someone to walk up and hand them a promotion.
Here’s a little secret.
Promotions take work, it’s not going to just happen.
Actually, they take a lot of work.
Repeat after me: You are not entitled to promotion.
There, doesn’t that feel better?
You are going to have to get uncomfortable. You may have to do things that aren’t your job for the greater good of the company. Even if you won’t get noticed.
“Hey Brad, are you reading this. This guy says I have to do things that aren’t my job. That ain’t gonna happen.”
The thing is, if you play your cards right, you will get the recognition you deserve.
To those who are waiting in the wings to get promoted, ask yourself, what are you doing to get better?
If your reply is that you’ve read a few books, or went to a leadership conference, that is not going to solve your problem.
Getting better takes some time. It actually takes time outside of the 9-5 (who are we kidding, it’s 7-7 now). Thinking that you can work a 40 hour week and get ahead isn’t going to cut it.
Why would I want to get promoted?
First we need to address why you would want to get promoted. What is all this work for? The answer could be one of many. Here are some of the main reasons:
1. ) Reduce Risk
If you are good at your job, you are reducing your risk in many ways. Your job becomes more secure, since you are an asset to your company and they don’t want to lose you. Your financial risk is reduced. Your health risk is minimized. Stress will decrease, because you are under control. These risks are never eliminated, but you can live a much better life by reducing the problems that arise from them.
2.) Accelerate Your Financial Freedom
Income increases are a huge factor in being able to retire early. Promotions are key to rising above your non-guaranteed 3% yearly raise. You need to get ahead. The only way to do that is a promotion or performance bonus.
Projected income chart for someone who receives a promotion every 3 years.
3.) Develop Your Entrepreneurial skills
If you dream of having your own company, then sitting in a management position will give you the first step in training. Management is not easy, especially for a first timer. Do it on someone else’s dime your first time around.
4.) Change Things You Don’t Like
Do you believe in your company but don’t like how it’s run? Work your way up and help change the culture. You’d be amazed at how a departmental change for the better can become contagious company wide.
The 3 Types Of Promotions
Understanding how your company promotes will put you light years ahead of your co-workers. Odds are, you need a little bit of each to reach the level you want to get to, but there is always one that resonates most with a company culture. Figure out where your company stands.
At some companies, you have to be a corporate politics wizard in order to get noticed. This is usually not a company you want to work for. Corporate politics will always be a factor, but if it’s the sole way to get promoted, it’s highly likely your company masks politics for their lack of performance.
Seniority is a terrible reason to promote someone. For some reason it still exists within companies today. The days that ole’ Ralph gets promoted because he’s been sitting in the same chair for 30 years is completely mind boggling. If this is the case in your company, you might as well leave or plan to stay for the long haul. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.
3.) Performance Based
Merit is what a company should base their promotions on. It is the sole way to determine an employee’s worth. Mr. Showoff employee may be able to shake hands and kiss babies all day, but if that doesn’t lead to the bottom line then who cares. Look for companies that promote the performers, then become one.
The Extra Boost
The extra boosts are the cards you always play. You may ask why? When the race is tight, and a promotion is between you and another person who doesn’t do these things, you will always win. Do these from day one:
You may think this doesn’t matter anymore. Well, it does. If you’re a guy, and everyone wears button downs and khakis, dress one level up. Wear a dress shirt and tie. You may get some laughs from your co-workers initially, but this will soon wear off. You will portray that you take the job seriously – that’s half the battle.
2.) Work Ethic
Unless your company doesn’t allow you to stay past specific hours, put in extra time. Consistently be the first one there or last one to leave. If you can, do both. This is not easy. It’s a grind. But trust me, your boss will eventually notice. If all else fails, you are the guy of gal who shows up and puts in the work.
3.) Be on Time
If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late. Being first in will never make you late. Bosses hate when their employees are late. It’s counter productive and sets a horrible example to your co-workers. It also means that your boss has to confront you, and most people hate confrontation.
The Most Important Skills
This is where the magic happens. If you have all 4 skills down pat, nobody will be able to stop you. You will stand out. If you think you have all these skills and still aren’t getting noticed, it’s time for a gut check. Are you really great at all four or just good?
For each of these I am going to recommend you go do something (read a book, take a course). The key here is you must take action. If you lack in one or more of these areas, do all you can to improve that area of your life.
For Example: Don’t be the person who reads and book and says “Oh, that’s great information.” Then continues to sit at home and watch The Bachelor. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I don’t care who gets the rose.”
Actually implement this time.
It all starts here. If you can sell, you will never be hungry another day in your life. Sales are the key to every business.
What does getting a promotion entail? Selling yourself.
What does a politician need to get elected? Selling their message.
What does a content marketer need to become successful? Selling their brand.
What does a startup need to succeed? Selling their product.
What does a lawn company need to grow? Selling their service.
The list can go on and on, but I am sure you get the picture. Everything you do is related to sales.
In fact, in a recent study of 100 of the top billionaires, they looked into billionaires first jobs.
Do you know what the #1 entry level job for billionaires was?
This is the number one place I am looking to improve. There is really only one way to get better, and that is to practice. For me, that means crawling out of my comfort zone, and getting after it. As Mark Cuban says “I am always selling. Always be selling.”
2.) Public Speaking
You may be wondering why you would need to be good at public speaking in order to become better at your job. It’s obviously a fair question. Odds are, most of you are not standing in front of an audience every day pitching your sales projections.
Have you ever been in a meeting where there are executives in the room and you have to explain to them a large project you are working on? You stumble, stutter, and feel like an idiot after you finish. That’s your public speaking muscle. You need start working it.
It’s uncomfortable I know, but the higher up you are in a company, the more you will have to speak in front of a boardroom. It could be investors, executives, employees, or any other situation. If you excel here, you will definitely leave a good impression.
To practice, look at joining a group like toastmasters who teach you how to properly give speeches. It’s a great way to network with like minded people.
First impressions are everything. Now that we are in the 21st century, the reality is, most first impressions come via email. This means writing matters. In a text and tweet world, writing is becoming a lost art.
This is where you can stand out. Without proper copy and writing techniques, your email could be the laughing stock of the office you just sent it to.
Take a few basic writing courses. It will help you in the long run. You don’t need to write emails like Hemingway, just make sure that you can get to the point in an intelligent and concise way.
It amazes me that people still have not learned to use one of the most valuable business tools around. What usually happens is that each office has an excel girl/guy. The “excel master” has this one skill that this person brings to the table. It has gotten them this far.
What if you could be the office excel expert in addition to mastering sales, speaking, and writing? If you work in a corporate setting and want to stand out from the pack, master excel at an advanced level. You will be able to pull data no one else has access to. As a quick test, if you can’t do a VLOOKUP, create macros, or a pivot table, then you need to learn more. If those words sound like you just read Spanish, then you need to start with the basics. If I was starting to learn excel from scratch, I would take a basic class, then teach myself via YouTube videos from there. Trust me, it will pay off.
Here is a great video to start with.
It’s Up To You
In the end, it’s up to you. You can read and learn, but taking action must happen.
It comes down to daily discipline and what you are willing to do in order to improve. You may enter the job force as un-molded clay, but if you can develop skills that create true value, coupled with a relentless discipline, and work ethic, you will undoubtedly succeed.
Begin with your dream job in mind, then curate your skills above and beyond what it takes.