Middle managers: 4 things to do to get promoted now
As a middle manager, you’ve been around long enough to know that the higher you move up the corporate ladder, the more difficult it is to keep up with a successful corporate development career path. While some middle managers find it effective to move to another company, many of you are looking forward to being promoted someday in your current organization. But as many of you have discovered, getting promoted internally is sometimes harder than finding a job elsewhere. So if you’re vying for an internal promotion to embark on an improved corporate development career path, what can you do to show that you’re the right person?
Well, first I’ll talk about a couple things you shouldn’t do - both related to the other candidate. First off, don’t play dumb. After over 35 years of experience in this field, I can promise you that the other candidate knows you’re either interested in the job or at least checking it out. So go ahead, face your competitor with a smile. And may the best candidate (you!) win. Secondly, no matter how much you might have the upper hand in office politics, play a fair game. Your advantage might win you the job, but shaking off your reputation as the company snake will be much harder to do. So now that we’ve talked about what you shouldn’t do, what things can you do to convince the relevant decision makers that you’re the right person to be promoted?
Here are four productive plans of action that will differentiate you from the pack:
1. Manage your time.
Being the last to leave the office - and letting everyone see it - is a time-tested way to show your commitment to the company. I’m not necessarily encouraging that you do this, but if you do decide to stay late, be smart about it. Rather than making yourself look busy, use the time you’re at the office to do online training, read up on new trends, or expand your knowledge of your company’s playing field. In other words, turn this time into an opportunity for you to build yourself up as a very well-skilled, knowledgeable candidate. In this way, you both look good for staying late and position yourself better for that next promotion opportunity.
2. Get your manager involved.
If you’re really serious about achieving an internal promotion, let your manager know this right away. It serves two purposes. First, you’ll be able to get an initial reaction from your manager and know where you stand. Second, if your idea is well-received, your manager won’t have any choice but to “join your team,” so to speak. In this way, you’ll be able to slowly turn your manager into a promotion mentor, openly consulting with them about the best way to show your company that you’re the one to promote.
3. Keep your eyes wide open and your ears to the ground.
In most organizations, information is power. I’m not suggesting you snoop around the break room, eavesdropping on your co-workers. However, I do encourage you to pay attention to what you hear when you hear it. Don’t let tidbits of information, such as someone’s sudden reassignment, pass you by without wondering how it could affect your career. Also, listen to the style in which people around you interact: their tone of voice, the words they use, etc. These can give helpful insight into the general atmosphere of the company - and inform you of possible changes that could help you in your next promotion opportunity.
4. Go looking for problems...and then solve them.
Don’t take this as advice for creating problems. There’s no need to; every organization has more than it can handle. But there are probably some problems that you could solve, making a significant difference for those around you. For example, take a look at how files are stored on your organization’s server. Could you improve accessibility by doing a little cleaning up? What about the location of the copier? Could it be put in a more convenient place so that it doesn’t disturb the Accounting Department? If you take initiative, people will notice and appreciate you...making you a prime candidate for that next promotion opportunity.
So to wrap up, being promoted within your company can be tough. But based on my 35 years of experience, it’s definitely doable. Remember to play clean and to differentiate yourself from the others. You’ll be in that corner office in no time.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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