One common question that troubles many of us is, "How should I ask for a promotion?" A good place to begin to answer that question is with yourself — the inside stuff. After you know what's really happening for you, it's a lot easier to address tactical issues.
You're more likely to secure the right promotion if you know yourself — your real motivations, your true capabilities, and how others see you.
- Your real motivations
- Is a promotion what you really want? Your chances of promotion are much greater if you actually want the job you would be promoted into.
- Perhaps you really want the pay, and not the job. If you do, there might be other ways to get it — by changing jobs, moving to a different company, or changing industries or regions.
- Your true capabilities
- Where do you stand relative to others who already occupy positions comparable to the one you want? This is difficult to answer, because it calls for almost superhuman objectivity. Are you really in their league? If you suddenly found yourself as one of their peers, and you think you'd be a good fit in that group, then your plans are realistic.
- Where do you stand relative to others who might be promoted to that job, or relative to others who might be hired from outside the company? To get a fix on this, apply for a similar job elsewhere. You'll quickly learn what your chances are, and you might even land a job.
- How others see you
- You're more likely to
secure the right promotion
if you know yourself
- Is your goal consistent with management's view of you? Would your desire for a promotion come as a complete shock to management if they knew about it? Or has someone suggested that you pursue a promotion? Two very different situations.
- Here are some useful indicators. Do people at your supervisor's level consult you? Have you ever represented your supervisor's organization for cross-functional task teams? Have you been asked to mentor new employees? Are you recognized for expertise that would be valuable in your new position? Would your peers in your new position advocate for you if you asked?
If you find some red flags when you examine your real motivations, your true capabilities, or how others see you, you could give up on a promotion, of course, but that's not a very satisfying outcome.
Instead, address the issues you found. If you want the pay but not the job, widen your view and look for jobs you do want. If you're missing some skills, you can take courses, find a mentor, or get a coach. If others don't see in you everything you'd like them to see, work on relationships and find ways to be a real contributor.
Is every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info
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More articles on Workplace Politics:
- Currying Favor
- The behavior of the office kiss-up drives many people bats. It's more than annoying, though —
it does real harm to the organization. What is the behavior?
- Group Problem-Solving Tangles
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of what the solution will do, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and much more. Disentangling
these threads can make discussions much more effective.
- The Deck Chairs of the Titanic: Strategy
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of the Titanic. We continue our exploration of futile and irrelevant work, this time emphasizing
behaviors related to strategy.
- Managing Non-Content Risks: II
- When we manage risk, we usually focus on those risks most closely associated with the tasks at hand
— content risks. But there are other risks, to which we pay less attention. Many of these are
outside our awareness. Here's Part II of an exploration of these non-content risks, emphasizing those
that relate to organizational politics.
- Exasperation Generators: Irrelevant Detail
- When people relate stories at work, what seems important to one person can feel irrelevant to someone
else. Being subjected to one irrelevant detail after another can be as exasperating as being told repeatedly
to get to the point. How can we find a balance?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
- A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
- And on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
- Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
Beware any resource that speaks of "winning" at workplace politics or "defeating" it. You can benefit or not, but there is no score-keeping, and it isn't a game.