Don’t miss: The Critical Step You Need To Take Next

At the end of this blog post is my recommended next step to take to that will ensure you’re on the right track to promotion

Step by step plan to getting that promotion

When was the last time you were given a promotion? Or maybe even promised a promotion but nothing has yet materialised?

I know the feeling! During my corporate career I had several occasions where I just didn’t seem to get the recognition of all the hard work and commitment I was putting in. I was getting more and more frustrated and I was beginning to believe the only option would be to seek employment elsewhere.

Luckily for me a friend of mine recommend a development coach. He taught me how to position myself in just the right way for advancement. I wanted to share with you the tips I was given so that you can use them to get ahead yourself.

The most important piece of information first. You have to understand and be able to quantify your real worth to the company. This can be a bit daunting to some at first, especially if you have never worked with budgets or financial forecasts before. But don’t let that put you off. All companies are run for the sole purpose to make money, secondary to that is to provide a service or product. So if you’re asking for a promotion or raise that doesn’t show that you, personally, add value to the company then you’re fighting a losing battle.

First think about what you are paid right now. Somewhere, somehow your company already feels that you’re worth X amount of £’s or $’s (or whatever your local currency is) but if you’re looking for a promotion or raise, then something inside of you feels that you’re giving more, or could give more value than they are currently rewarding.

You need to position yourself in such away that it’s obvious to the managers and leaders in the company that they have something in you of value and they need to ensure that is rewarded appropriately.

But here’s the counterintuitive bit, working ‘harder’ or ‘longer hours’ isn’t the key here, it’s VALUE. The only way to increase your value is to do one of two things.

1: Increase the amount of money coming in

2: Decrease the amount of money going out


If you’re not doing one or BOTH of those then you’re not adding value to the company. The trouble is not every action or project you do can often be directly converted into $ or £. So this is where you have to get smart. How do you show the value of something that is just a Process or Procedure, a Document or Report, how you Manage your Team? None of these things may appear to affect the bottom line, but they do! You just need to understand how so that you can prove your value. You can’t just make it up either. If you just pluck a figure out of thin air, you’re going to risk your chances of being taken seriously.

If you’re not sure how to do this, pop a comment in the box at the end of this post and I’ll ‘rephrase’ the action you take in your role to a more monetary focused one.

Key Points for Promotion

Working for a company that actually has room for promotion. Typically promotion is easier in larger companies, but don’t overlook the potential in smaller companies that could grow too.

Do the best you can in your current position. You might have outgrown it and feel a little lackluster, but letting that drag down your performance will have a detrimental effect on your chances of promotion. Instead focus on how you can expand your role to make it more interesting for you and start to combine elements that a higher grade person would normally be responsible for, easing your way into the functions that you would become ultimately responsible if promoted.

Toot your own horn, but don’t be obnoxious about it. Tell management and higher up about any significant wins, or better still; challenges you have been able to overcome and resulted in a bigger win than was expected. Just make sure you get credit when it’s due.

Be likeable by the people that matter. This could be the current team you’re in as well as other teams. Of course managers and senior managers are also in line for the charm offensive. We’re not talking about brown nosing here, it’s more about being approachable and doing what you say you will. Being reliable will make you incredibly popular.

Ensure that the right people know you want a promotion. Focus on telling them how you’d welcome the challenge rather than bemoaning the current position you’re in. Keep it positive and future focused.

Apply for jobs that are listed on the internal website. Also ask for advice on which positions you should apply for from you own, and other managers that know you. But let’s not make this a threat or even worse an ultimatum. Make sure it’s presented to them as a keen desire to “get on” in the company.

Invest in new skills and training. A lot of people think their company owes them training as part of their remuneration package. With the high cost of training these days this rarely happens. Consider training or coaching as an investment in your own future salary, rather than begrudgingly forking out thousands of pounds and feeling bitter that your company isn’t interested in your progression.

Top up your qualifications. If you have a degree, consider doing a Masters or PhD, but ONLY if these qualifications will help advance your career. Otherwise focus on more “soft skills” or “EQ” that will improve your relationships within the company and turn you into the “go-to guy”.

Learn another language, many companies are now truly global, and being able to talk or at least understand what your foreign colleagues or customers are saying will give you a significant advantage. Spanish and French will cover a lot of scope, but with China becoming more and more integrated with Western businesses Mandarin is quickly becoming the must have language.

Get a taste of what else is around, ask for temporary assignment to other projects or departments to help widen your own experience and knowledge. Even if it’s just a few hours a week if it will give you unparalleled insights.

If your company doesn’t have the capacity for you to try out new things because they are just too small, consider volunteering for large established non-profits. These are effectively run very similarly to large corporations and will give you invaluable experience that you can transfer into your skill set.

Get a coach or mentor, obviously I would say that though wouldn’t I. But really this is critical to your success, whether it’s an independent person like me, or a work colleague or friend. Having that focused and structure in place will do you the world of good at breaking through the barriers that you think might be in your way.

Coach or mentor someone to replace you. The worse thing that could happen when going for a promotion is being trapped in a role that you’ve guarded so well you’ve become irreplaceable. Make sure you are looking for and working with someone that could replace you when it’s time to move on.

Create a new role, this is possible the most interesting tactic. You don’t need to have to be promoted into a pre-existing role. As the company, industry or customer requirement change, so do the types of roles that should exist in a company. Look at other companies and see what roles they have that your place doesn’t, and then see how your skill set could create and ultimately fill that role.

If push comes to shove, sometimes you just have to move on to get the promotion. But don’t burn your bridges as often a few years out in the field can provide you with exactly your existing company needs for a position several levels higher than you’re currently in. So keep in touch with old colleagues just in case your new skills and experience can be used at a later date.

How to screw up getting a promotion

Asking for a bigger raise than the company is prepare to give. Let them lead the way, but don’t be ashamed to “squeeze” them for a little more. But do bear in mind that this can often mean future pay rises will be carefully scrutinised.

Taking over your managers roles by stealth. Making “executive decisions” when you should have cleared it with your boss first, because you were trying to impress, is a big no-no. Sure, use your initiative, but don’t be reckless.

It’s not all about you. In fact getting a promotion is all about what MORE the company can get out of you. Make sure you know what that is, so you can sell that to them in a heartbeat.

Thinking you’re due the promotion. Length of service is no indicator as to whether a person is suitable for progression. You need to stand out from the crowd and step up your game. Be the obvious choice, not the last resort!

Not having examples of your worth. Being able to prove excellence can be hard when asked off the cuff. Start recording your daily, weekly, monthly … etc, achievements. Make sure the best ones are highlighted to the right people and recorded in your review sessions with your direct line manager.

Moaning about your current position or how things are done, especially by the incumbent manager, is not conducive to being targeted for promotion. If anything people will actively avoid you. Work is often hard enough as it is without being dragged down by naysayers.

Ultimatums and other threatening or passive aggressive behaviour. If your attitude stinks of “it’s my way or the highway” then don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Giving up. So you didn’t get promoted this time, why bother trying again, just to get knocked back and have your confidence hit rock bottom. A “No” often means, not right now or not for this position. Get feedback so that you can fine tune your plan of attack next time.

Your Next Step

This blog post has ended up being WAY bigger than I would normally do, but there is still a lot of information that I have, so if you’re interested then download the PDF “Get Promoted” for loads more key steps and information for you to read offline.

Get Promoted!


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Paul Bailey

Paul is a highly experienced Business Coach, Mentor and Personal Development Specialist. He works with people to enhance business and personal performance through a process of supported self-awareness and self- development. Paul is the Co-Author of the book 80 Tips.