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Some ins and outs about how to get that promotion

Coach's Corner, November 17, 2008

The Client
Name: Jeanne
Age: 42
Title: Manager, business operations
Time at organization:  7 years 
Industry: Health care
Issue: Getting a promotion
Q. I was passed over — again — for a promotion I think I deserved. I get good ratings in my reviews, and my boss is positive about my work when I meet with her. What should I do?

A To move forward in your career, know what you want and learn how to ask for it.

The inner game
Resolve your emotions. You can’t undo the past, but you can control your next steps. However, carrying resentment over past decisions may get in your way. Acknowledge and release such feelings so that you’re ready to move forward.

Know what you want. What drives your interest in being promoted? It may be money, prestige, building more skills or contributing at a higher level, or a combination of the above. As you develop your case for promotion, it’ll help to understand why you want it.

Know what you offer. List your skills and accomplishments. Don’t be shy — you may need to be blowing your own horn more. Also, be realistic about your gaps that may be holding you back. Get feedback from someone you trust.

Look at the cues you send. If your boss thinks you’re completely satisfied, she may not think of offering a change. Likewise, if you are doing what your job requires, but no more, then you may not be seen as someone who is ready for advancement.

Understand how you think the process “should” work. Many people believe that good work should be noticed and promotions should follow. Often, though, promotions go to those who ask. Look at your beliefs about the rules of the game, and be ready to change your approach. This may trigger some inner issues. Many people, especially women, are reluctant to promote themselves. Asking for what you want can be very uncomfortable. Find others to support you, and remind yourself that you are asking for options that you deserve.

The outer game
Get information from others; then, talk with your boss about what you’d like in the future.

Get a reality check by talking to others who have been promoted. If they actively sought a step up, it may reduce any sense of risk you feel. Also, look for information about career ladders that may interest you.

Prepare a promotion plan. Outline the steps you’d like to see, and the benefits the company would realize from your advancement. Anticipate any objections that might be raised, and be prepared to address them.Let your boss know that you’re ready for new challenges. She can then watch for opportunities in your unit or elsewhere in the company. Try asking if she’d arrange informational interviews with her peers. Good managers like to hear about what employees want, so remember that this conversation helps her, too.

Take action. Discuss your development in your regular meetings to keep it on your boss’ mind. Keep your eyes open for interesting possibilities, and step forward when there are special projects that would showcase your skills.

The last word
Your advancement is your responsibility. However, both you and your company will benefit if you’re satisfied, so ask for help in moving forward.

Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted November 16, 2008
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