Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 6, Issue 37;   September 13, 2006: How to Get a Promotion in Line

How to Get a Promotion in Line

by

If you want a promotion in line — a promotion to the next supervisory level in your organization — what should you do now to make it come about? What risks are there?
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of Ghana

On January 1, 1997, Kofi Annan of Ghana became the first United Nations staffer to rise to the position of Secretary General — a most significant promotion in line. Photo by the US Mission in Geneva, courtesy Wikimedia Commmons.

Promotions in line typically entail accepting responsibility for supervising people in positions like the one you hold now. Promotions in line, like other promotions, aren't about reward or recognition — they satisfy employer needs. When employers promote people in line, they're trying to fill positions with the right people, at the right time, for the right price.

The right people
People promoted in line usually know the organization well. They've established valuable relationships and they know what's needed and what's expected.
The right time
Most organizations do require that the position be open to any employee, and complying with that policy does take some time. But hiring from within or promoting someone in line is usually faster than hiring from outside.
The right price
Promoting in line saves money. A shorter and simpler search process, a shallower learning curve, and zero recruiting fees make such moves attractive to employers. But most important, we can often avoid the premium compensation that might be needed to attract highly qualified people from elsewhere.

Here are some tactics that help you land a promotion in line.

Do your current job well,
but seize opportunities to
demonstrate that you can
handle the responsibilities
of the job you seek
Demonstrate capability
Do your current job well, but seize opportunities to demonstrate that you can handle the responsibilities of the job you seek. Don't pursue such opportunities too aggressively, but grab them when they come by.
Be replaceable
If you're critical to organizational success in your current position, you're difficult to replace. Not so good if you want to be promoted. Share what you know. Be ready to leave your old job behind, and be ready to move into the new job.
Make the people you work with look good
Promotion in line can sour relationships with those of your current peers who would be reporting to you. Making the people you work with now look good helps them, helps the organization, and dampens many of their concerns about your promotion. And it makes your about-to-be-peers comfortable, too.
Be flexible about relocation and travel
Be willing to relocate and travel. Balance your own needs with the needs of the company, and keep in mind that the balance you choose affects both your chances for promotion and your personal life.
Keep a working journal
Enter in your working journal contributions you make that bear on your target position. You probably won't be conveying this information to anyone else, but the writing motivates you to look for — and do — things you can write about.

Two final tests are perhaps most telling. How would you like working for someone like you? And how would you like supervising someone like you? If you have some misgivings about either question, you probably have some things you want to change. Today would be a good day to start. Go to top Top  Next issue: When You Think Your Boss Is Incompetent  Next Issue

303 Secrets of Workplace PoliticsIs 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

For more on promotions, see "How to Get a Promotion: the Inside Stuff," Point Lookout for August 16, 2006, and "How to Get Promoted in Place," Point Lookout for August 23, 2006.

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbreneIkVnxvUFeCMDAKCner@ChaciLeeNbrQTDIRBIcRoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Workplace Politics:

President Barack Obama with Stevie WonderWhat You See Isn't Always What You Get
We all engage in interpreting the behavior of others, usually without thinking much about it. Whenever you notice yourself having a strong reaction to someone's behavior, consider the possibility that your interpretation has outrun what you actually know.
The reverse side of the U.S. quarter dollar coin issued in 2000, honoring the state of New HampsireHow to Undermine Your Boss
Ever since I wrote "How to Undermine Your Subordinates," I've received scads of requests for "How to Undermine Your Boss." Must be a lot of unhappy subordinates out there. Well, this one's for you.
Post-War Lionel TrainsWhen It's Just Not Your Job
Has your job become frustrating because the organization has lost its way? Is circumventing the craziness making you crazy too? How can you recover your perspective despite the situation?
Melrose Diner, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaThe Power and Hazards of Anecdotes: II
Anecdotes are powerful tools of persuasion, but with that power comes a risk that we might become persuaded of false positions. Here is Part II of a set of examples illustrating some hazards of anecdotes.
Donald Trump, a candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for President in 2016Allocating Airtime: I
The problem of people who dominate meetings is so serious that we've even devised processes intended to more fairly allocate speaking time. What's happening here?

See also Workplace Politics and Managing Your Boss for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Puppies waiting intently for a shot at the treatComing June 27: Interrupting Others in Meetings Safely: I
In meetings we sometimes feel the need to interrupt others to offer a view or information, or to suggest adjusting the process. But such interruptions carry risk of offense. How can we interrupt others safely? Available here and by RSS on June 27.
A VoiceStation 500 speakerphone by PolycomAnd on July 4: Interrupting Others in Meetings Safely: II
When we feel the need to interrupt someone who's speaking in a meeting, to offer a view or information, we would do well to consider (and mitigate) the risk of giving offense. Here are some techniques for interrupting the speaker in situations not addressed by the meeting's formal process. Available here and by RSS on July 4.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenSlCfFtRumDUCxYlLner@ChacsdFORSvbAFRKOIaboCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Race to the South Pole: The Power of Agile Development
On 14The Race to the Pole: An Application of Agile Development December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. Lessons abound. Among the more important lessons are those that demonstrate the power of the agile approach to project management and product development. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople 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.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
Please donate!The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!

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.

303 Secrets of Workplace PoliticsIs 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!
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
My free weekly email newsletter gives concrete tips and suggestions for dealing with the challenging but everyday situations we all face.
A Tip A DayA Tip a Day arrives by email, or by RSS Feed, each business day. It's 20 to 30 words at most, and gives you a new perspective on the hassles and rewards of work life. Most tips also contain links to related articles. Free!
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.