How promotable are you? Your promotability within the organization hinges on several key variables including these I consider critical: (1) your effectiveness as a problem solver; (2) the consistent quality of your work; (3) your communication skills; (4) your attitude on the job—and about the job; and (5) how you promote yourself in the work environment.
- Your Effectiveness as a Problem Solver. This should go without saying: Your promotability quotient gets higher as your effectiveness as a problem solver increases. Your performance shows your ability to deliver solutions. Problem solvers help generate revenue, avoid costs, improve efficiencies, and otherwise contribute to the higher strategic objectives of the organization.
- Your Consistent Quality of Work. This aspect of promotability involves taking ownership of projects and acting with a sense of urgency, striving to complete them ahead of schedule and under budget.
- Your Communication Skills. You’ll find over the course of your working life that, as you ascend in the organization (or across organizations with job changes), your communication style must evolve with each new position of increased responsibility. As a team member, your communication skills are direct and immediately relevant to others. When you manage the team, your communication skills must be sharpened because of the nature of the messages you convey to subordinates and higher-ups.
As your career develops, your communication skills become more refined because your messages change from people and project issues to establishing direction, forging a mission, and ultimately, to setting a vision. The communication skills of the first-line manager are different from those of the corporate vice-president or CEO because of the content of the messages.
- Your Attitude on the Job—and About the Job. I’ve seen highly capable technical people with lousy attitudes get passed over for promotion in favor of less capable individuals who possessed a very positive attitude. Much as an ill-fitting suit says something about the wearer, a bad attitude says something about the individual. A bad attitude affects an employee’s approach to the job, work quality, interactions with others, and self-image—and it does not invite promotability.
- How You Promote Yourself in the Work Environment. The best time to influence your promotability is well before an opportunity opens up for promotion. Build your network of influencers before you need their help; this will remove the perception that you are just jockeying for position for the promotion. Ideally, you want others to think of you first when an opportunity opens up.
All of these factors work together to allow other departments, functional groups, and upper management to include you and your ideas for higher visibility projects, adding even more polish and equity to your brand.
Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies: Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).