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Are you really
promotion material?

Fill in this short survey to find out:

  • 1. Have you requested a promotion in the last year?
  • 2. Have you ever been rejected for a promotion?
  • 3. Have you ever been offered a promotion?
  • 4. Has a co-worker at the same level ever been promoted instead of you?
  • 5. Has there ever been a position you applied for and didn’t get?
  • 6. Are you hesitant about asking for a promotion for fear of your boss’s response?
  • 7. Have you ever left an organization because you were passed up for promotion there?
  • 8. Do you know if your work environment values you and your work?
  • 9. Do you think that you deserve a promotion?
  • 10. Do you promote your work and yourself at work?
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** Please answer all questions **

If you want a promotion, don't skip these 3 steps

Getting rejected for promotion is probably the biggest let down a middle manager can experience, especially after putting in so much hard work. After the initial shock of rejection, you’re probably asking what you could’ve done differently one of the major factors affecting career development.

 

Not getting promoted can be the result of many factors, some you can control and others you can’t. Even if the decision is completely out of your hands, there are still three major factors affecting career development you can take into consideration.

 

1.    Be open with your boss.

Many middle managers think that their boss is planning on promoting them. You’ve come to this conclusion because you always meet your deadlines, exceed expectations, and demonstrate professionalism. It would seem the logical course of action to promote you. But don’t forget that these are all YOUR assumptions, not your boss’s. Your boss has many other things on their plate and your promotion is not necessarily their first priority. Rather than dilly-dallying around with the subject of your promotion, make it clear to your boss that you plan to stay and advance at your current organization. Restate this at different opportunities, whether at annual assessments, project meetings, or even informal chats. You don’t want to get to a point where your boss claims they never knew about your career aspirations.

 

2.    Identify with your organization.

Today’s organizations are much more than producing or delivering a product or service. They are living, breathing social ecosystems. Many organizations have in-house dining rooms and gyms. They throw celebrations and hold team-building seminars. They sponsor events and organize volunteering projects. Even if you “work to live” and don’t “live to work,” you want to make sure that your coworkers and managers see you as an active part of your organization’s social side. After all, if everybody else is having lunch with other managers, showing their fun side at a party, or demonstrating their empathy at a charity event - and you’re not, then who do you think will be chosen when promotion time comes around? Remember, senior managers are expected to serve as role models in all organizational aspects, not just productivity.

 

3. Keep track of your accomplishments.

Your organization isn’t going to write your resume for you; it’s up to you to keep track of your accomplishments so that when the time comes, you’ll be able to position and brand yourself for promotion. Make sure that you understand what’s needed for your next promotion and what gaps need to be filled. Work on closing in on these gaps, whether it’s through improved performance, learning something new, or even shadowing an expert. The point is that you keep a careful record of your improvements, making sure that decision makers are aware of them along the way. Putting yourself in the spotlight, so to speak, will provide the evidence needed to decision makers that you both have come a long way and are able to climb even higher.

 

Your next promotion is obviously not completely in your hands. In fact, it’s mostly in others’ hands. But if you follow the three strategies above, you’ll hopefully be able to influence these hands in your favor.


 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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How should I ask for promotion ?

Deep down inside, you know it’s high time you were promoted. You feel it in your head, your heart, and your bank account. And somehow you know that if you don’t get promoted soon, you probably won’t get another chance - derailed from your corporate development career path. But here you are still waiting for your organization to come to the same conclusion. After all, with all of the hard work you’ve done, offering you a promotion would be the right thing to do. So you wait and wait...and wait.

 

Based on over three decades of experience, you’ll probably keep waiting...while your coworkers bypass you one by one along your lonely corporate development career path.

 

If you’re ready now, then it’s time to stop waiting and to start acting.

 

So here’s the question: what is the best way to ask for a promotion?

 

First, you should know that asking for a promotion is not a matter of semantics. It’s not about whether you frame it as a direct question, a suggestion, or even a hint. It’s more about being very clear. And it’s also a process.

 

In your mind, plan out three to five meetings you’ll have with your boss. These meetings should be spread out over as much time as possible, but of course this depends on how urgent the promotion is for you.

 

In the first meeting, you want to let your boss know that you are an ambitious player and that you see yourself growing within the organization. This will help put your boss in the mindset of viewing you as a long-term investment - someone they should train, assess, and pay attention to.

 

The next two to four meetings should be a mixture of formal and informal encounters. No matter what the subject is, you need to reiterate to your boss that you would like to advance within the organization. Ensure that each “hint” includes your boss’s feedback in terms of steps you should take to make this happen. This process helps commit your boss to your eventual promotion, as they become an active partner in turning it into reality.

 

These first four meetings are what I like to call “laying the groundwork,” as they help to build the solid foundation on which you’ll eventually ask for a promotion.

 

The fifth meeting should include a direct request for a promotion. By this time, your boss and you have been working together in order to arrive at this moment. As such, granting or recommending you for promotion seems like the natural thing to do - because of your joint commitment so far.

 

Obviously, this process seems easier said than done. Planning out the series of meeting is one thing; actually carrying them out is another. Yes, you need the courage to bring up a subject that might make you feel uncomfortable. And yes, you need the courage to face a possible rejection. But consider the alternative - waiting around isn’t going to get you anywhere. So don’t let too much time pass. Begin planning your journey towards the corner office today.

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Happy New Year 2108

Thank you!

We’re wrapping up 2017 with so many subscribers from different industries...and we have YOU to thank for it!

Looking forward to continued success together in 2018!

 

Happy New Year !

 

Etika

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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It's time to reflect

The end of the year is a wonderful time to reflect on our lives, including how we feel about our career. While in my usual posts, I try to provide actionable advice, in this holiday season post, my advice is to sit back and relax. In a relaxed state, your mind has time to absorb everything you’ve experienced throughout the year, allowing you for some mindful reflection.

Here are some things many middle managers reflect about around this time of year:

 

1.    What’s your overall goal for your career? Can you express it in one sentence?

2.    Are you satisfied with your work-life balance? Are you enjoying both?

3.    What kind of opportunities outside of work might help you become a more well-rounded person?

4.    What could you do to help others?

 

These are just examples of questions to consider. I think that you get the idea - concentrate on both the big picture and thinking a little bit outside the box. So grab a mug of something warm, sit back, and reflect.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season.

Etika

 

 

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If you're concerned about getting fired, be aware of these 4 things

When you finally become a middle manager, you’re proud of yourself for having made it past the entry-level pack. You are no longer considered a newbie in your field and you have earned recognition and respect by being promoted - important career goals of a manager. As you eagerly and professionally carry out your role as a middle manager, you begin looking forward to that next promotion. But based on over 35 years of experience helping middle managers navigate their career, the first thing I want to say to you is “beware.” Beware of signs that might not only signal a stagnated career as a middle manager - but worse - the end of one. Here are some red flags middle managers should look out for, as they often mean that a pink slip is in the making - definitely not one of the career goals of a manager.

 

1.    Performance improvement plan

This positive, optimistic noun phrase is actually a euphemism for “we’re not happy with you.” Yes, it’s usually framed within a very constructive conversation about the one or two points that need to be improved in the next quarter, but it’s actually evidence that can and will be used against you when you are let go. If you are faced with a performance improvement plan, of course, you must comply with it. However, recognize it for what it is: the beginning of a goodbye.

 

2.    Impossible targets

All middle managers are requested to work hard - that’s what you’re there for. But if you find yourself being asked to meet superhuman deadlines or mobilizing uncooperative teams, you might be being set up for failure. After all, it would be hard to fire you if your performance was stellar, right? So to make sure your organization has a case, you’ll be asked to meet impossible targets. Remember, as a middle manager, you don’t want to shy away from a challenge, but if the job seems impossible, it probably is.

 

3.    Focusing on your vulnerable points

Do you have a fear of flying and yet you’ve been asked to fly to a customer in Europe? Are you a family person and yet you’ve been given a project that will keep you busy 24/7 for the next quarter? Have you been asked to relocate to in the middle of a school year? In most normal circumstances, asking to pass on these requests would be normal. But if an organization is trying to poke holes in your otherwise excellent record, it may resort to asking you to do things it knows you won’t.

 

4.    Lots of documentation

Have you received a ton of emails lately, documenting every move you’ve made - often in a critical tone? Are you wondering what the big deal is about a report that might have exceeded company-standard length or that a submission was an hour late? These are classic cases of building evidence so as to trash your performance record. Your organization might not have any “real” proof that you’re not up to par, so it’s begun nitpicking its way through your workday...all in the name of building up a case against you.


 

I know that these items seem unbelievable and that you’re probably wondering what kinds of organizations would stoop so low. I don’t have a single answer for this, but organizations that either are in trouble or changing the fundamental way they do business are prime candidates for such behavior. For example, if an organization is in financial dire straits, they need to jettison as much as possible in order to stay alive. Perhaps they’ve been given instructions from the board of directors that 20% of the workforce must be cut. In the other situation, a company has decided to change its strategy and your department or function is no longer the center of activity. In this case, you’re being whittled off, little by little, until you’re not part of the company’s activities.

 

Middle managers, beware. You are often the first layer to be sliced off when organizations decide to downsize, for whatever reason. The best thing you can do is stay alert for signs of impending dismissal and prepare yourself for the day after, making sure that the next organization you work for brings you one step closer to the corner office.


 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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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:

 

Talents

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?

 

Networking

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?

 

Character

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:

 

Training

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.

 

Fear

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.

Work habits

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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Promotion seekers: here's how to work on your weaknesses

Any middle manager will admit they have some weaknesses that might be keeping them from getting promoted. If you’ve been a middle manager for more than a few years, you’ve seen your share of co-workers getting promoted ahead of you - and deep down inside, you’ve probably understood why they were promoted and not you. This isn’t to say that all promotions are granted fairly. In fact, in over 35 years of assisting middle managers achieve their career dreams, I’ve seen quite a few undeserved promotions. But these aren’t the cases I want to address here. Today’s post is about dealing with the weaknesses you have that you feel might be preventing you from being promoted - one of the major factors affecting career development.

 

The first step in dealing with your weaknesses is to identify them. For example, while you might think that your biggest weakness is time management, it might not be perceived as such by your work environment. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not your (lack of) time management but the way you seem to initiate project after project without following through. And all of this time, you’ve been seeing this entrepreneurial spirit as one of your biggest advantages. So before you begin attacking your weaknesses, find out what they are from your environment's point of view. This is important to know, as it’s your company’s perception of you that will determine how far you go - one of the most important factors affecting career development.

 

Once you know your weaknesses, try to find out a core skill that you can acquire to improve the weakness. For example, if you’re seen as not thorough enough, then perhaps ask others to let you know when you’re getting off track. Such gentle reminders will help you stay on a manageable number of projects at one time, rather than skipping around, as you might be doing now.

 

If you’re struggling with a weakness, perhaps there’s something hidden within the weakness that you’re actually really good at. So if you’re known to jump around a lot, then perhaps it’s your creativity that’s triggering this. Creativity is an extremely valued skill in organizations and is generally unable to be learned. So instead of beating yourself for not following through with ideas, highlight the fact that you’re really good at generating them - offering added value to your organization.

 

And speaking of strengths, you don’t want to ignore them while trying to improve your weaknesses. Remember that you’ve gotten to where you are because of your strengths, so you want to continue nurturing and developing them. Oftentimes when you work on your strengths, you’re able to overshadow some of your weaknesses. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore your weaknesses - just don’t begin defining yourself according to them.

 

Trying to implement my advice can seem like a daunting task. Any way that you look at it, it’s really all about developing new habits. No new habit can be taken in one bit and successfully implemented. When you try to bite off more than you can chew, you’ll find yourself right where you began in no time. Instead, with each change you try to implement, take baby steps and build up the habit bit by bit. A new habit that’s been given a solid foundation is much more likely to survive than a habit that’s landed on you - and crushed you - out of nowhere.

 

If you take building good habits as a long-term project, your work environment will notice a significant change in you - and you’ll be on your way to the corner office sooner than you think.


 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Boss isn't promoting you? Don't ignore these 4 signs why.

When considering how to get promoted, the most natural plan of action for most middle managers is to speak with your boss. After all, having a close relationship with your bosses so far has been key to reaching your current position - and a way of how to measure success at work. And of course whether you actually get a promotion is most likely contingent on their personal recommendation. So your strategy is probably correct. The only problem is that not all bosses share this mindset. Here are some indicators that this might be the case for your boss:

 

1.    Your boss praises you often.

Yes, this sounds completely counterintuitive. Doesn’t this mean you’re doing a great job - and should get promoted? Isn’t this how to measure success at work? Not necessarily. First off, if you’re getting a lot of praise for what you’re doing, it could mean that your is boss happy - very happy with you exactly where you are. And if they’re so happy, why would they want you to get promoted - and moved away from them? Another “danger” of being over-praised is that your boss might be playing a type of “offense”. If they praise you a lot, why would you dare complain about anything? In other words, their praising is used to keep you - and your requests for promotion - at bay.

 

2.    Your department is very successful.

This reason seems illogical as well. If your department is successful, you’re probably doing a good job. And if you’re doing a good job, then you should get promoted, right? Well, unfortunately, that’s not your boss’s logic. From your boss’s point of view, your department is so busy meeting and exceeding goals that long-term human resources planning is the last priority. Therefore, while the department’s energy is focused on results - your career aspirations are at the bottom of your boss’s pile.

 

3.    There’s nowhere to grow.

While many ambitious middle managers are quick to point out places where they can provide added value - and get promoted - sometimes there just isn’t room in the company for such growth. Your boss is limited to both a specific ecosystem and limited resources and therefore can’t create a position out of thin air. If you think this isn’t the case, you have to understand that some bosses just aren’t the type to go out on a limb for you...they’re too busy preserving their own career.

 

4.    You’re being encouraged to develop other skills.

In most cases, this could be a sign that your boss wants you to round out your skill set, thus putting you in a better position for promotion. But this isn’t always the case. Developing those skills might be good for the boss’s immediate needs, but is it good for the career path you’ve been working towards? While you want your boss to see you as open minded and flexible, watch out for being taken off track.

 

So with all of these warning signs that your boss might not be on board with your promotion, what can you do? The first thing to do is to acknowledge the situation. Once you think you know what’s happening, it’s time for you to take your career path into your own hands.

 

At this point in time, your boss is not the address, so it’s time to consult with others. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses with fellow colleagues. Ask to have an informal discussion with other senior managers so that you can understand the promotion possibilities in the organization. Once you have a good picture of yourself and a general direction, work on filling in the gaps you’ll need once a promotion opportunity comes along. The combination of your improved skill set and contacts with seniors in your organization will position you well for your journey towards the corner office.

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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How do you recover after being rejected for a promotion?

So you didn’t get that last promotion. Yes, it’s disappointing and even humiliating. So far, you haven’t experienced anything like it. Your climb up the corporate ladder has been so smooth until now that you never imagined you’d be rejected for your next promotion - a pothole along your corporate development path. But what you might not have known is that this is a story common to nearly every middle manager I’ve consulted over the past 35 years. Promotions above the middle management level are several times more difficult to achieve than promotions along the entry level corporate development path. So once you’ve dusted yourself off and have resolved to keep up the fight, here are some suggestions for not letting your next promotion opportunity slip away.

 

The first thing you should do is take a look at the last year or two. Ask yourself honestly, how clear were you to your boss about wanting to get promoted? Were you counting on your boss to assume that you wanted a more senior position? Did you just simply think that doing a good job would automatically lead to a promotion, as it probably did when you were promoted last? In most cases, middle managers underestimate the importance of making it explicit that they want to be promoted. Getting promoted at this level in an organization is a great deal more than doing a good job. You have to actually build a strategy for getting it, which might include learning some new skills. Unless your boss is on board with you, helping you navigate the promotion waters, you’ll find yourself lost. So if your boss doesn’t know about your ambitions, make it clear ASAP.

 

Once you’ve communicated to your boss that you want to be promoted, make some time to speak with them about the reason why you were passed up this last time. Only by having an honest conversation with your boss will you be able to find out what you should be working on for next time. Don’t underestimate your own value by being shy. This is the time to get real answers to crucial questions - so start making the list now.

 

If, after speaking with your boss, you find that you're missing some key skills, competencies, and experience, make it your top priority to bridge these gaps. Unfortunately, most organizations are not forward thinking enough to provide middle managers with the tools necessary to be promoted from within. Instead, massive resources are directed towards finding new candidates for positions that could’ve been filled by existing employees. Therefore, it’s up to you to make sure you’ve got what it takes. So instead of being the last to leave the office and the one who volunteers to take on just one extra project (both which haven’t worked for you so far), use your time wisely by reading up on the latest trends and learning about new areas.

 

And when you’ve embarked on the promotion prowl, don’t forget to document everything that could help you win that next promotion opportunity. If you’ve met or exceeded specific goals within an assigned timeframe, make sure you receive some type of acknowledgement (a simple email will do) from your supervisor. If you’ve run a successful project in which you’ve supported your team in an outstanding manner, try to get short notes from both team members and the customer, stating how helpful you were. If you come to the promotion table with this kind of evidence, it will be hard for senior decision makers to ignore it.

 

To my own dismay, I’ve seen the best of middle managers follow all of these steps, and yet, when the time came, they were still passed over for promotion. Because of this, I suggest the following. When you approach your supervisor for the first time, ask them for specific steps that can be taken for you to get promoted. If you get a clear answer, then you can follow the plan above. However, if the answer is vague, it’s a sign that the company wants to keep you exactly where you are. In this case, I suggest you start polishing up your resume, as it’s probably time to move on to a company that deserves you.


 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Promotion seekers: never ignore the business mindset

As a middle manager, you already know what it takes to make a business successful. All businesses need strategy, marketing, operations, and finance. What you probably haven’t realized yet is that if you’re planning on moving up the corporate ladder, you have to treat yourself as a business, too. Without an “I’m a business” mindset, you’ll find yourself in the same position until retirement. Only middle managers who see themselves as businesses will identify and seize promotion opportunities, which are important factors affecting career development. Let’s have a look at the ways in which you should adopt an “I’m a business” mindset.

 

Make a business plan. Yes, you read a correctly, a business plan. Your plan should include your own mission statement, in which you set out exactly where you want to be both in the short and long terms. Remember that a good mission statement should be specific enough so that you can check on your progress in its fulfilment. I like the format of “by [date], I will be the [position] of [company]”.

 

In addition to your mission statement, make sure you have mapped out your competitive environment. Who are the other players in your company who could be vying for the same promotion? How much does your company promote from within versus from the outside? Who might the external competitors be for your next promotion? These are crucial factors affecting career development.

 

Once you have laid out your competitive environment, it’s time to enter marketing mode. As with any marketing plan, you should formulate your own USP (unique selling proposition/point). A good USP states loudly and clearly why you (and not someone else) should occupy your place in the market. What is the added value that you will bring to your next position? Why is this added value unique to you? Formulating a USP might not be easy, as you might not have had the opportunity to stop and reflect about what makes you special. I suggest not only self-reflection but also consulting others you can trust. Just as in a good market research focus group, ask co-workers around you what they think your USP might be. Be sure to try and speak with subordinates, people at your managerial level, and your supervisors. In this way, you’ll have enough information to put together a pretty accurate USP to communicate to others.

 

Once your USP is in place, you have to make sure others know about it as well. I’m not saying that you have to go for a full-blown advertising campaign. However, if you find yourself on the modest side - or even worse, someone who tends to stress your weaknesses, then switch modes immediately. For example, it doesn’t hurt to put out an email mentioning how proud you are of  your above average customer retention rate, does it?

 

Now, what about your company operations? True, you’re not a factory, but you still need to figure out how you’re going to get that next promotion - what you’d set out in your mission statement. First, find out what you’ll need to do in order to meet each milestone - or new position. For example, should you brush up on your finance skills? Prove you’re the number one salesperson in your region? Take on a project that’s not in your immediate area? Do you need extra time and resources to accomplish your plan? Organize all of this information and then create deadlines for yourself - as if they were assignments given to you by your supervisor.

 

Finally, think a bit more about finances. You’ve already considered the expenses in your operations plan. What about the other side of the coin? Do you have a salary target for each new position? Are there salaries you’d consider as unacceptable? You need to be aware of this, as it will help you understand the managerial levels you need to aspire towards. Or it might tell you that you need to look for advancement at another organization. Of course, you might not have all of the financial information necessary, but knowing roughly where you’d like to head is part of the “I’m a business” mindset.

 

I know that I haven’t covered everything there is regarding adopting an “I’m a business” mindset, but I hope that my message has been clear. In order to move from middle management to more senior positions, you have to come up with a clear strategy. Framing yourself as a business, from my experience, is a very useful, productive way to go. With a good business plan in place, businesses, as well as middle managers, have a much greater chance of success.



And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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