Creating the opportunity to get promoted and advance quickly is a premier management skill. Knowing what you need to do to manage your career and super-charge your “promote-ability” is fundamental to getting ahead. The fact of the matter is that most managers and executives fail to understand the most important advancement strategies and may never reach their full potential.
If you look closely at those who rise quickly to the top of any organization, you will be able to answer this key question. What is it that the most successful managers do that to get promoted? If you have been in the corporate or professional world very long, you probably have had a chance to observe the “rising stars” within the organization. Most people see the surface rational for the rapid rise but miss the fundamental skills and actions that drive their success. While the reality is that you will find a number of advancement factors, there are five core skills that get you promoted. These five are; self-knowledge, self-promotion, manage visibility, create professional brand and learn to excel. These are the five essential characteristics that can have significant influence on your success.
1. Know Your Strengths and Value. You can not build a career advancement plan without making an accurate assessment of your current strengths and value adds. This in not some esoteric concept. If you know what you are good at, believe in your strengths and solidify you belief in “what you want to contribute” to the organization, you will empower your attitude. You create an image, let’s say a perception, that you are someone unique because you have a belief about your strengths and your positive intentions to contribute to the company. This reinforces an element of your self esteem that you can add value. You have this strong inner-belief about your value. You believe that you are deserving of recognition for your value, your commitment to earning increased responsibility and advancement. Once you have truly thought through your strengths, and capabilities to add significant value to the organization, and the inner focus to believe that you will contribute and rise to the top, you have the foundation to move to the other fundamental characteristics.
2. Professional Self-promotion. You simply must have a plan to promote yourself and execute that plan at every opportunity. This does not mean blatant “butt-kissing”, on the contrary. Professional self-promotion refers to the active management of your image, inside and outside the organization. No one else consistently going to make sure you are visible to the people that count. This is your responsibility. Important people must recognize that you exist, so you must stand out to the right people. That you are working hard, and excelling at what you contribute is a given (or should be). You will fall short of being widely recognized if you think what your contribution speaks for itself. Identify all those people that can make a difference. You need people of influence to know who you are and what you contribute to the organization. Be adroit and professional but seize every opportunity to share what you have achieved and accomplished that is a value-add. If you are not getting important opportunities, you need to pinpoint projects, committees and other activities where you can add value. Something you can have an impact on that will get people’s attention. Offer to volunteer some time to the project, find resources or information that might be of value to the project and share it with the leader or manager of that project. Find a community project sponsored by the organization and get involved.
3. Visibility is Key. You have to become known. People of influence need to have a clear image of you in their Minds-eye. Being seen in the right places, with the right people, on a regular and consistent basis is visibility control. One workable technique is to be absolutely current and aware of what the company is engaged in, who is driving initiatives and what’s happening. By being in the know, and maintaining an active list that connects the top people with their projects, assignments and challenges will put you in visibility control. Look for ideas and references that could add real value to what the most influential people are dealing with at any time. Find opportunities to run into them, catch them after a meeting with a group of others (so they will see you interact) and simply say something like,” I understand your are working on (dealing with, leading) such-and-such and I ran across an (article, report, reference) that might be of value.” Then, share it in public. When there are open meetings, press conferences, public and community meetings where an influential leader is speaking or participating, try to attend if possible and then catch them at a break or on the way out and just engage briefly (or introduce yourself if you have not met formally). Take control and be creative. Get people talking about seeing you with so-and-so or at important events.
4. Create your Professional Brand. You are your most important asset in creating promote-ability. You must embrace this business fact of life, those you work with, and interact with inside and outside the organization will quickly create a perception of you and your skills and abilities. Your job is to package yourself up and present your professional brand at every opportunity. You must create your professional brand image and then walk & talk your brand.F Start by absolutely grasping this singular truth, people will quickly develop a perception of you and your qualities. The question is “will people’s perceptions be the image you want of you and your value?” You have to define yourself clearly and differentiate your self from other aspiring employees. Whatever level or job position you have today, you must have a solid and evolving professional brand image that you are capable of promoting that supports you as a rising star. Every week you need to have a plan that promotes your brand in some way and journal the activities and results as part of your self-management plan. Ask your self, “how can I position myself this week to gain visibility and display my professional brand in a quality way?
5. Exceed all Expectations. It may seem obvious but consistently putting forth the extra effort, doing more than expected, in every situation is critical and over-looked. Ask any aspiring manager about their level of effort and they will almost always say they are giving 100%. That is just not the case. One of my favorite thoughts is that “we judge others by their behavior and judge ourselves by our intentions.” An aspiring person may have the intention to go the extra mile, and perform above expectations, but their behavior often fails to match their intentions. Your work effort, your behavior, must noticeable stand out in every situation. Ask for more responsibility. Finish your assignment early and ask if you can help other members with their assignments. To advance, to create promote-ability, you must stand out in a positive way. Even when your current responsibilities do not offer new projects and assignments, find something that will enhance your job, help others or add value to your manager or other influential people. It is simply not enough to do your job well, you must excel and stand out in the viewpoint of others. Be on the look-out for opportunities to add value and lead. Do not accept the current situation. There must be a way that you can do things better, do them differently, and faster. Develop improvements with more impact on the company or customer. Put your mind to it and don’t accept going through the motions as in any way pattern for advancement.
The fundamental characteristics here involve building and executing a PLAN to make yourself standout and be recognized. This involves taking action. Being purposeful in everything you do that can be made visible or recognized by people at all levels. Manage-up with more senior, influential people. Be your own “Career Agent”, responsible for managing every aspect of your professional brand, image and awareness campaign. Do not think for one minute that this is too much trouble or something that is not necessary. The top performers, those that were perceived as a “rising star” and advanced rapidly to important positions and leadership, exhibited the five key characteristics. These stars developed their strengths and promoted themselves at every opportunity. They became consistently visible to the right people, created their professional brand and exceeded expectations.
ABOUT: Michael D. Moore is a veteran executive with over 40 years of experience in the Insurance and banking industries in the United States. He is the creator of Management By Delegation and the website, www.plan-delegate-manage.com, which strives to bring real world experience, proven skills and valuable delegation tools to managers around the world. As a veteran executive in the Insurance & Banking Industries, Mike brings over 40 years of proven experience in building teams and developing successful managers.