What are the ways to stay in the promotion race?
The end of the year is approaching and with it comes the time to take stock in your career. In fact, many organizations actually ask employees to evaluate where they are and where they see themselves headed. Don’t wait for your boss to ask you - go ahead and begin now. It will give you the opportunity to figure out what gaps you need to fill so that you can pursue your next promotion. Remember that as a middle manager, no one is going to hand you new skillsets on a silver platter for you to put on your resume for internal promotion. It’s all up to you. While there are many ways of taking stock of your skills, I prefer a very simple one based two categories: “what I have” and “what I need”. Both of these are important, as they will shed light both on how you can already differentiate yourselves from others as well as what you need to fill in the gap so that you can stay in the race.
Before delving into the “what I have” v. “what I need” analysis, it’s important that your answers are truthful and reflect reality. Many of us have the tendency to see things as we wish they were - rather than as they really are. Therefore, my advice is to check your analysis with a trusted colleague or two. They will let you know if you really have what you think you have and will provide insight into what you need so that you can succeed next year - and be proud of your resume for internal promotion.
The “what I have” category is based on your current competencies and how these might help you in the future. Here are some categories to consider:
What talents do you have that come naturally? Are you good with numbers? Organizing projects? Expressing yourself verbally? What about talents that you’ve developed over your career? Use of technology? Time management? How might these talents be in demand as your particular organization and industry develop?
How wide is your network? Does it reach beyond your particular department? Can you call on others to help you in a bind? Would key players recommend you if a promotion opportunity came along? How might your current network be maintained and expanded as your organization pursues new opportunities in the market?
What is your track record when it comes to meeting commitments? Observing ethical guidelines? Demonstrating loyalty? Would others see you as an upstanding worker when it comes to these issues? As your organization goes, how could your character play an important part in receiving the recognition you deserve?
After you are satisfied with the accuracy of “what I have,” it’s time to flip the coin to “what I need.” Here are some categories to think about:
Are there some skills you’re missing? For example, if you’re in marketing, are you fully up-to-date regarding social networking platforms? What about soft skills, such as public speaking? Perhaps you need to enroll in a class or two. Surely there are some skills that will be needed as your organization enters new waters.
We all face fear, but are there any fears you have that might be holding you back from that next promotion? When was the last time you volunteered to give a presentation to a senior manager or to accompany an important visitor? Do cold sales calls make you chill? Competition among middle managers is fierce and your fear could be holding you back from staying in the game.
Everyone has to work on work habits, whether it’s managing their time well, giving precise instructions to subordinates, or leaving personal issues outside of the organization. We usually have a good idea of our work habit issues, as others have probably given us some signals. The problem here is that lack of professional work habits will keep you away from promotion opportunities, no matter how well your organization is doing.
Analyze and take action
Now that you have a good idea of “what I have” and “what I need,” it’s time to do two things. As far as “what I have,” make sure you can express these clearly and concisely, both in spoken and written forms, so that the next time you’re asked “why you,” when a promotion opportunity comes along, you won’t hesitate for a second. Regarding “what I need,” it’s time to make a plan. Take three items from this list and prioritize them from most important to least. Then, decide how you are going to fill in the gaps. It might be through a class, a wise mentor, an online seminar, or a good management book. Whatever it is, make sure these items don’t show up on your list this time next year.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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