Yes, you read right! It really is possible to get more than one promotion in a year. Many people do and you can, too, with these tips.
1. Be friendly and pleasant
I remember years ago in my former corporate life as a journalist when there would sometimes be grumbles about those who got a promotion. It seemed that some really nasty people (sorry if that sounds harsh!) got promoted. They would backbite, take credit where it wasn’t due, rub shoulders with the ‘right’ people etc and somehow land themselves in a job they seemingly didn’t deserve.
The question is, do you need to morph into someone else to get a promotion? No! Really you don’t. It actually pays to be friendly and pleasant in the workplace. Being helpful, approachable and personable goes a long way when you want to gain recognition. Add that to your skills, knowledge and experience and your time will come, believe me.
The mistake that a lot of people make, however, especially women is not promoting their successes. In her book ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, which we featured on Mothers Who Work some time ago, Sandberg (of Facebook fame) highlights the fact that women don’t shout out about their successes nearly as much as men in the workplace. The ‘good girl’ syndrome of behaving in a certain ay because we are females means that ‘bragging’ doesn’t come with our upbringing. So, women often get overlooked because we just don’t speak out enough.
This is something I saw a lot of in the media. Many of my young male colleagues would happily talk about the smallest achievement they’d made in passing conversation and in meetings – all the time. It made them look like experts, even when they barely knew anything and guess what? They were always promoted. Often, those who had more experience and knowledge, but lacked this social skill would get left behind – several grades. Does that sound like the story of your life?
It pays to have something nice to say to your colleagues, to ooze good manners, and have a ready smile and caring attitude. Even if there is a culture of rudeness in your workplace, don’t be brash and judgmental; your positive attitude won’t go unnoticed. I remember always being asked why I was so happy and smiling, even when there wasn’t much to smile about. It always used to puzzle my work colleagues. But my mindset completely changed when I became a mother. Some of the issues that would come up at work were so not worth getting flustered about – in the grand scheme of things! Especially when a solution could be found, and so I had every reason to smile – so I did.
2. Don’t gossip
As tempting as it can be, try to avoid gossiping at all costs. Gossip is the one thing that can make life uncomfortable for others in the workplace. How would you feel if you were the topic of conversation? And to be honest, most office gossips aren’t that selective – they’ll talk about the managing director right down to the office intern, so you’ll come up, too, it’s just a question of time.
Knowing what’s happening in the office is good, but try to stay away from discussing damaging information, personal information, or anything that isn;t good news, however tempting it may be.
3. Update your skills and knowledge
Long gone are the days when you could depend on your employer to train you in everything you needed to know to do your job, climb the ladder and stay with them for life. These days, if you want to progress, you have to sacrifice your own time outside work and out some money into your own growth.
The world today moves at a fast pace with technology pushing the boundaries every day, so we all need to keep up with technical innovations as well as global business trends – are you on top of your game? It’s very important that you not only stay attuned with technological and process advancements in your field, but also stay ahead of the systems and processes your organisation is using. If you don’t, how do you expect to make suggestions for change or advancement? How will you know when to ask for updated systems to work with? If you can;t do these things then you won’t be proactive in the workplace – you’ll always be playing catch up, which isn’t valuable. Your boss is expecting you to bring news to him or her to make the department or organisation a leader, and that is worth giving you a promotion for.
So how do you do this? Read trade publications, read newspapers to see what other sectors are using (there might be a crossover into yours), go onto YouTube. I love listening to TED talks from leaders in their fields. They can be so inspiring and empowering. And finally, go on a course. Don’t use motherhood and work as an excuse – find the time and money, and do it! Simple.
4. Be efficient and have facts and figures at your fingertips
There’s nothing more cringeworthy in a meeting or company presentation than seeing someone who doesn’t have a clue about their area of responsibility. It’s your job to know your job inside out – and that’s not about working like a robot. You need to know the effect of changes, the numbers (spend, important dates and figures etc). In a meeting, you should either know these off the top of your head of have an organised notebook where you can easily call on these important facts at an instant.
Not knowing will make you look incompetent. You’ll waffle or, even worse, give out incorrect information which may end up biting you on the proverbial.
I’ve been using a Filofax sinceI was in primary school. When I started, I really didn’t have much to go in it, but I loved writing notes on each day. As a journalist, we are trained to keep notes – by law, every interview has to be kept for 6 years, and before the advent of technology, the notebook (and dictaphone) was king! So, I carry a Filofax with me everywhere I go. It means that I can check things off and write them down as soon as the information comes my way. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and all the calendars in my phone, but there is something limiting about that. Opening a paper-based Fiolofax diary and seeing physically what my week or month looks like makes my life so much easier. I sue the electronic calendars as a primer or reminder – that’s it. If you find Filofaxes to bulky, try a Moleskine.
5. Be methodical and organised in your work
When you’re off work and someone has to pick up your work, do you get endless phone calls and emails because you’ve left a mass of confusion behind you? If so, something needs to change. Don’t feel threatened by someone findig your job so easy they do a better job of it than you do. Chaos is chaos – it doesn’t make your oblook harder.
Start using filing methods that other people can make sense of when you’re away from work. Keep your work area neat, computer files uncluttered
and back up your work regularly so you don’t lose everything should the worst happen – technology is great, but not perfect!
If you get this right, you’ll find that you’ll return to work and get a plethora or compliments. This won’t go unnoticed. The bible has a verse: ‘He who is faithful in little in faithful in much’ (Luke 16:10). Whether you’re a Christian or not, the truth is, if you can be trusted with the smallest responsibilities and do it to you upmost ability, you’ll be the prime candidate for bigger responsibilities in the workplace.
6. Practice the art of listening
Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of trying to speak to someone you know Ian;t really paying attention, or who you know is already getting ready to speak instead of listening to you? It can really be frustrating.
If you’re that woman, stop now! Apart from the rudeness, you really do miss out when you don’t listen to other people. If you want to be a leader – and that’s what a promotion will make you – you must learn to absorb knowledge like a sponge. To do that, you need to really open yourself to hearing someone else speak and try to understand them.
Also, you should never restrict yourself to only your department and what your role is about. It pays to know what other departments do, and to cross link so you can add value to your company. Do you have any friendly colleagues in other departments you could go to coffee or lunch with? Find out what they’re working on and how they’re improving their area. It’s less threatening than divulging key information to a colleague who could go against you for a promotion.
7. Respect and obey the rules of the office
If you want a promotion, you have to set the right standards for others to follow, and one way to do this is to be be disciplined and spread the company culture to others.
Get to know the company values, motto and ethos and see how you can work within them. It doesn’t mean you’ll turn yourself into a bore, but you’ll just be mindful of these and apply them wherever possible, especially when in meetings with the company big wigs.
Also, be mindful of how you conduct yourself – are you always late for work and leave early? Do you tag on an extra 10-30 minutes onto your lunch break…everyday? If you think it goes unnoticed, it doesn’t. It may seem like nothing to you, but your boss has probably seen or heard about it. How can you lead on a bigger project or team when you can’t even keep yourself in check?
8. Always be in control, never appear to be stressed
Keep personal life and work separate. I used to have a motto when I worked in the media, which was not to take my home life to work and not bring my work home. If I found myself moaning about work a lot at home, I always knew that something had to change – I need to address the problem or leave. On my desk, there would be no pictures of my family because I wanted to maintain that separation. I wanted to be seen as myself, not as a mum (not that there’s a problem with being a mother!), without the distractions and assumptions other people could make so i completely stripped my desk bare. It worked!
Also, try not to form relationships with a colleague or your boss that is unprofessional. Going for drinks after work doesn’t mean you have to act like you’re out with friends and family – maintain some dignity. I sued to be amazed at the out-of-work gripes that younger colleagues would have with each other, on account of these Friday after work drink sessions. They”d seemingly become so close, but get so much ammunition from each other to gossip to the rest of the office about afterwards. I just don’t think it’s worth it. By all means, it can be great for bonding, but know hour limits, so you don’t end up being the butt of the office jokes the following week – you’ll lose so much respect if you are.
Remember to dress well everyday. My motto is to dress like your boss’s boss. Dressing well doesn’t have to break the bank, and it shouldn’t, but making an effort withy our appearance makes you at least look organised and in control.