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  • 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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5 Tips to Ensure You Never Get Stuck in Your Career

Regardless of who you are or where you work you never want to get stuck in your career. Developing a corporate development career path is essential for your wellbeing and future career prospects. This can only be done by identifying why some managers never get promoted, and are doing the same thing year in, year out and why others are promoted above them.
As well, you may wonder why you are being told to wait just a bit longer for your own corporate development career path and what you have done to create this opinion. You have worked hard and been dedicated to the success of each and every project you’ve worked on. You have built up your department successfully and you are well liked. 

So, what is going on? What have you done wrong? And, should you be worried? Yes, but read on. There are the top 5 reasons why mid-level managers like you are stuck in your career. Read through them below and start making plans to change your career path today.

 

1. There Are Limited Places at The Top

All company positions can be viewed like a pyramid. Sure, there are plenty of chances for career advancement at the bottom. Even mid-way up the pyramid there are positions that you have applied for and received. However, close to the top the career advancement opportunities begin to become less and less as the pyramid becomes narrower. 
This makes sense, but it doesn’t have to mean that you are one of those middle managers who never improve their career. 
Let’s face it, you were good enough to be promoted from a junior role to a mid-level one. The pyramid was still wide at that lower level and the competition was not quite as tough. There seemed to be more opportunities along your corporate development career path, but not anymore.

You need to move up and find a way to do so using your existing skills and new ones you are going to research and build on. This will ensure that when senior management are scanning through prospective candidates your name is going to appear front and center.

 

2. Stand Out from Your Competition

Some people are driven from day one to succeed and do well. They never take anything for granted and know from the day they begin at a junior level that it is only going to be temporary. They are on the way up, and they know it.

You need to develop the same career goals and you need to compete harder. In truth, it’s not enough to do a good job or even an excellent job. You have to figure out how to compete with other mid-level managers by showing that you have the skills and expertise they don’t, and showcasing them to your colleagues and senior managers.

To gain the next promotion it is essential that you stand out in the crowd and get noticed. Doing your job well is not enough. You need to find out how the company works, what the company prizes in senior managers, and become that one person it is looking for.

 

3. Understand That You Need to Lift Your Game to be a Senior Manager

Often juniors are promoted despite their weaknesses. Their limited skills are recognized, as are their talents and achievements. Their flaws are also noted, but senior managers figure these would be worked out and eliminated in a mid-level manager position.

This might ring true for you and the stage your career is at now. However, if you take the time to study the skills and expertise of the senior managers above you, you will find that they have grown and developed well beyond their former junior selves.

When you apply for a position as a senior manager you will be scrutinized from head to toe. As the pyramid narrows there is no room for anyone to make mistakes or carry their flaws like baggage. Those in charge of promotions are, for the most part, unwilling to compromise, and why should they?

Make sure that you have developed what it takes to be a senior manager. This may take time to learn thoroughly, but look at it as an investment which will ultimately give you the career advancement you so desire.

 

4. Demonstrate That You Are a Well-Rounded Manager

If you’ve been in your present position for some time you may not have realized that the rules have changed. You may not know anymore what is truly required for a promotion, and that what defines you as “professional” has changed.

There is no doubt that you are good at what you do. You might be the best sales manager or the most innovative programmer, and this has got you to where you are today. But, is it enough? 

To move up the ladder you’ll need to add sophisticated managerial skills to your portfolio. What helped you in the past has become less important, and while you were busy doing your job the goal posts have been shifted and your skills are no longer relevant or applicable for senior positions or they are lacking in some way.

Demonstrating that you’re a well-rounded manager is the most important thing you can do now. You need to focus on and refine your management skills and show that you’re worthy of being a senior manager. 

 

5. Never Stop Striving to Be Better at Your Job

The last thing any successful manager has done is rest on their laurels. While it is okay to pat yourself on the back and appreciate how far you have come, it is important that you keep striving towards your next career advancement.

So far your talents and achievements have served you well. You have been noticed in your company and been promoted to where you are now. It would be tempting to sit back and take a career break, but don’t. If you do this you will find yourself being ignored and even taken for granted. Your senior managers will not promote you because you were good in the past. They want to see how you are taking the initiative and growing and developing your career on your own. 

Managers who do not take a proactive part in shaping their career fall into career coma, never to wake up again to new opportunities. 

It is important that you don’t wait for someone to shake you out of your comfort zone. Find ways to actively take charge of your career path. Let’s face it, your next promotion is all up to you. No one is going to help you get out of a rut. Embrace the new challenges that lie ahead and that next promotion will be yours. 

 

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Understanding Managerial Styles: The Integrator

There are four broad ways we can define and understand management styles. It is important for the career goals of a manager to understand each one, and identify which one you belong to. 


In particular, this will help you understand your current competencies and how you can do your job better. It will help identify your strengths, and also your weaknesses and areas where you need to improve.


Even more importantly, comprehending which managerial style you fit into will help you understand why you haven’t been promoted and what you can do to change that. After all, despite your style it is important that you learn to adapt and adjust so that you can advance your career goals of a manager.


While there are individual variations, most managers can classify their managerial style into one of four types: Integrator, Entrepreneur, Producer, and Administrator. In short, Entrepreneurs are always looking for new growth opportunities; Producers are extremely bottom-line oriented; and Administrators are great at developing and enforcing corporate policy.


In this post we are going to concentrate on the Integrator style of management. An Integrator is great at building and managing teams.


If you are an Integrator you are going to very popular regardless of what company you work for. Integrators are well-liked and simply great with people. They are those kinds of managers who people genuinely like and who are able to get the best out of others. They are able to form teams almost effortlessly, while keeping everyone happy and committed. This is no mean feat if you consider how diverse and competing personalities can really upset teamwork.


When it comes to projects, Integrators are all inclusive ensuring that everyone is invited to project meetings and has their say. However, they also insist upon complete consensus. This can be time consuming as each member is expected to have their say and respond to other’s ideas and comments.


Integrators work hard to keep the team happy and working well. This may mean making themselves available 24/7 to hear professional or even private concerns of their team members.


This sounds great, doesn’t it? You might wonder what is wrong with this approach and why Integrators are held back from promotion. After all, Integrators continue to ride the wave of success for a few years or so, eyeing their next promotion on the horizon confident they have are able to face new challenges and the authority and resources to meet them.


One of the issues Integrators face is their inability to evolve into a different type of manager. The insistence on consensus and being available any time of the day or night were appropriate when the Integrator was a junior and even a mid-level manager, but senior managers need to do more.


Senior managers need to take on essential skills, such as initiating multiple projects, making quick decisions, and being on the ball. Sure, team involvement is crucial to the team’s success, as an individual however, the Integrator hasn’t spent the time developing ensuring that they have the other skills so highly prized by their company. Also, giving so much time to team management can slow down the implementation of a project and actually be a drawback in the long run.

Do you identify as an Integrator? Do you have great team leading skills, but lack the expertise and training to fulfil other important roles in the company?

If this sounds familiar, don’t despair there are things you can do to ensure that next promotion is yours.

If you’re an Integrator, you must develop skills outside your comfort zone. The important thing is to start with what you know. Use your skills when it comes to building and managing teams and nurture the relationships you have with your staff. 

Then research the skills needed to fulfil the role of senior management and find out how you can gains those valuable skills. Do you need to study after work? Also, ask questions and sound out your own manager and ask what areas you need to improve. Learn about and understand the other managerial styles and begin to bring some of their key factors into your managerial style. Identify what you need to get better at now and begin working on it today to ensure you are promotion material.

It is only through ensuring your well-roundedness that you will be seriously considered for senior positions. 


And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Does it Matter What Your Co Workers Think of You?

Do you really know what your co-workers think about you? And do you care?

If you work in a competitive environment it can be difficult to understand that your chances of promotion are affected by how others see you. You may feel resentment towards your co-workers, and may not want to know what they think of you.

You may think a certain way about yourself. You may see yourself as hardworking, industrious, even tempered and resourceful. You are probably proud of the results you have achieved. However, it is important that you begin to recognize the gap between how you see yourself and how others see you.

If you want to achieve tempting career advancements you are going to have to find out what your co-workers think about you, but you are then going to use this information to your advantage.

Once you know you then have to ensure that you begin to manage how others perceive you. This means each and every aspect of your working life. It includes your talents, your accomplishments, and your chances of succeeding in your next job. These are key factors affecting career development.

 

How Can You Find Out What Others Think About You?

When seeking feedback from others some managers focus too heavily on negative aspects. Instead, you should ask what others see as your strengths. You’ll probably be surprised to hear how exceptional these strengths are and how valued they are in the company.

Choose a few co-workers and a senior manager and begin to tally the information you receive. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

 

Make a list of:

.My strengths as I see them

.Who I have consulted

.Their perceptions of my strengths

.Whether this perception is new to me?

Is there anything that you see as a strength that wasn’t brought up?

Understanding what others have not identified as something you think you’re especially good at is a great way to ensure you can be better prepared for a promotion. Ask the people you spoke to if they recognize these strengths? Did they forget to mention them or, more importantly, don’t they know about them because you haven’t showcased them well enough?

Now make a list of the values your company has. What values do they reward with promotions and bonuses? What qualities to others promoted over you have that you don’t? Doing this kind of research will give you a laser-like focus on what you need to know to achieve a promotion.

You now know what’s valued at your organization and what skills you need to develop.

Surprisingly, most managers aiming for promotion don’t follow these simple steps, leading to a failure rate of a staggering 70%

This failure wasn’t due to them lacking in something. They had similar, and in some cases, better education, experiences, and talents than those who got the promotion. However, they failed to utilize them properly.

Let’s make sure you are not one of them.

 

In Conclusion

Understand that while believing in yourself is important, it isn’t the whole picture. Don’t simply believe that what others think about you isn’t important either. If you do you will lose touch with the way you’re perceived by others. Once you understand that, work on actively influencing others’ perception, and making sure that they see you as the next best person for that promotion.

 

And always remember,

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Don’t Just Dream It – Getting Your Next Promotion

It’s easy sometimes to just drift off, stare out of the office window and dream of your next promotion. We’ve all done it at some time, and continued to wonder how we might achieve our goals.


After all, you need to put a strategy into place to overcome your career advancement solutions. Just dreaming about it isn’t going to make it happen. You know that. I know that. And, everyone watching you daydreaming about it knows it too.


Don’t give in to your daydreams of getting that promotion you really want. Instead, make it happen in exactly the way you want. 


Regardless of what goals we set ourselves there will always be hurdles which need to be overcome before dreams can become realized. These hurdles may seem larger on some days than on others. They may even seem impassable, but they are not.


When outlining your career advancement solutions it is important to create realistic, smaller goals for yourself to achieve. These might be short-term and manageable at first. They may even seem a bit off track, and you might not see how they fit into your dream of being promoted. Just stay with me for now, though.


What if you could turn your daydreams into reality? What if you could see your dreams being realized in the future? What if you were so well prepared for that next promotion you simply eased your way into it?


Here’s what you should do:

Your dream job isn’t going to simply be offered to you. If it was, you’d have it already. You are going to have to make some sacrifices to achieve your goals.

So, what is it that you are ready to sacrifice? You will have to give up some of your free time and social outings. This might mean putting off playing golf or basketball with your friends on the weekend. You may have to curb traveling to visit relatives at special times of the year. You may even have to put aside time after work each night. 

Now, decide what your “dream job” is going to be. Don’t settle for second best either. To ensure that know exactly what you are aiming for be as specific as possible. Write down the job title, name or type of company, what kind of office you might have, and your salary. 
Set a date and imagine yourself sitting at the desk of your dream job looking at the calendar with that date on it. Setting a particular date will force you to act sooner rather than later.

Create a list of skills and experiences you will need to achieve your dream job. Look at the person who has the job or one similar. Note down what skills they have, and what kind of work ethic they have. Work hard towards re-skilling or doing extra courses after work. And, also work on your attitude right now so you will be ready to take on your next promotion.

Each and every day imagine yourself doing the job. What will you wear? How will others look at you? What will your desk look like? (Think plants, pens, notebooks, etc.) What kind of car will you drive? Most importantly, write down how you are going to feel when you have got this promotion. How will it affect you and change your life for the better?

Now this is the most important part. Read the last section at least twice a day. Read it out loud in a strong and determined voice. Add to your description if you think of something new.
Life is full of disappointments so don’t worry if you suffer setbacks. All champions do, and you are not different to them. What you need to do is see setbacks as learning tools that will make you stronger and help you hone your approach even better.
Working through each of these points means that you are taking an active part in achieving your dream job. Don’t stay behind with the pack by just wishing that you would be promoted. Make it happen. 
 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Take Charge of Preparing Yourself for Your Next Career Opportunity

Do you feel that many tempting career advancements have passed you by? It’s frustrating to see one person after another getting ahead of you. You work hard and you are dedicated to your company. In fact, there are many that might agree with you when you cry, “I deserved that promotion!”
But, it just didn’t happen.
So, what are you going to do about it now? Blame someone else? Quit and try to start again in another company? 
No one else is really responsible for your career except you. Next time there is a tempting career advancement opportunity make sure you are the one who is first in line for the job.

After all, no one else is going to do it for you, least of all your colleagues who may be running against you.

Don’t leave your next career advancement opportunity to the last minute. Preparation is the key to being truly ready. It will give you an edge your competitors aren’t going to have, and put you at the forefront of being the best candidate for the position.

 

How are you perceived by others?

 

If you are seen as the office clown or the no-hoper who can’t be relied on to do their job properly then it makes sense that you aren’t going to be considered seriously for that next promotion.
We all have strengths and weaknesses, but it is how others perceive them that counts in this situation. If you want your boss and colleagues to take you seriously you may have to look at your track record.
Change the way others see you in the workforce and you’ll soon find that your career opportunities will look a whole lot clearer.


What are the qualifications and experience needed for that next opportunity?


Do some research and find out what qualifications and skill sets are needed for the position you have in mind. Tick off the ones you have, and find out how you can attain the others. 
Do it now even if it means having to give up your free time. Having those qualifications will stand you in a much better position, and it also shows that you are able to take the initiative and improve yourself – this is always a winner with any employer, and it will look great on your resume.


What was positive about the performance of the last person who held this job?


Find out as much as you can about the person who used to hold the position you are interested in. Were they always on time or did they arrive at the office before everyone else? Did they always follow through and keep their promises? Did they get amazing results and were loved by their team?
Now, these attributes don’t come by chance. They come by hard work and dedication. So why not start practicing them today and you will be better prepared when the position is finally yours. 


What are the formal and informal expectations of the position?


Now, we could write a whole article on this topic alone. Formal and informal expectations are often the quoted as the difference between what is expected to get the job done, and going beyond it. It’s also those extra things that individuals can bring to the table like great networking skills or a wider knowledge of the industry.
It is worth researching this by finding out what the person who held the position brought to the table. As well, look at other managers you admire – what formal skills do they have, and what informal ones add those extra bonuses?
When preparing yourself for your next promotion remember that research can take many paths. You can do research at your desk by searching through the company website or learning more from websites like this one. This is known as secondary research.

Primary research will require you to speak to others and informally interview them. You will have to be able to listen to what others tell you even if it seems harsh, and then take it on board. You will also need to face some hard truths and accept that you have a lot of work ahead of you.

Remember that the more serious you are about your information gathering and “gap analysis,” the better positioned you’ll be for your interview. Don’t sell yourself short by taking shortcuts. You deserve that promotion and you have the skills to prepare yourself for it now.

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born. 

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The Habits You Need to Get Promoted

Welcome to the fourth part of my series dealing with the failures of internal promotion along the corporate development career path. More often than not, companies are unable to promote their own employees, which not only derails employee motivation but also causes companies to invest valuable resources in senior recruitment from the outside.

 

I’ve addressed this unfortunate situation in three other posts, which you might want to have a look at before reading on:

 

Why Managers Lack Empowerment for Promotion. 

Why Imitation Won't Get You Promoted.

Why Winning Habits Might Need to be Changed.

 


In this post, I’ll address another perspective of this “lose-lose” situation, showing how to turn a corporate development career path into a “win-win”. But first, I’ll recap a bit about what I call dominant habits. As I explained in my last post, dominant habits are a double-edged sword. They often help junior employees quickly climb to middle management but block them from moving any further. So what dominant habits really do in the long run is prevent middle managers from fulfilling their potential. 

 

Let’s take a practical example. If you’re over 35, you probably remember planning a road trip by consulting either paper or online maps ahead of time and then saving them as a reference during the trip. To follow the map, you needed to keep your eyes open for landmarks, changes in terrain, etc. In short, you were developing your sense of direction. Now let’s look at younger drivers, who might use a GPS to drive from one end of town to the other. While they could very well have the potential to develop a sense of direction, their dominant habit of firing up their GPS everytime they get into the car has actually suffocated their potential for developing this sense of direction. But what would happen if they traveled for an extended period of time without 100% GPS coverage? You’ve got it - they’d employ less of their dominant habit (GPS), making room for their potential habit (sense of direction) to flourish. The same happens when climbing the corporate ladder. Certain dominant habits must give way to potential ones so that they can develop.

 

The unfortunate thing is that most organizations and middle managers have failed to realize how crucial developing potential habits is. So middle managers automatically carry on reacting the same way to situations, while organizations are unsure of how to empower their middle managers for promotion. 

 

What needs to happen instead is for middle managers to identify their dominant habits and then to rein them in. In this way, their potential habits, the crucial missing link to promotion, will finally come to life and bloom, allowing managers to achieve their career dreams. 

 

To learn more about this exciting and rewarding process, please visit my Executive Mirror Program.

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Why Winning Habits Might Need to be Changed

This post is the third in a series looking at the quandary talented managers and their organizations find themselves in when it’s time fill a senior position. To recap from my last two posts, managers spend a tremendous amount of effort and time trying to learn how to be a senior manager, while the company often foots the bill. In the end, when the company wants to promote the manager, they find that the manager just isn’t ready - leading to frustration on both sides. For more details, have a look at my previous two posts:

 

 Why Managers Lack Empowerment for Promotion. 

Why Imitation Won't Get You Promoted. 

 

The reason why this occurs has taken me many years to unravel, as it’s so counterintuitive and is often integrally related to how to measure success at work. After all, an organization provides its top managers with time and resources to develop skills...the manager diligently follows through and...no results? 

 

What usually happens is that the organization blames the manager for not investing enough effort in acquiring the right skills and the manager blames the organization for the sudden cold shoulder...each side absolutely sure of its own narrative in terms of how to measure success at work. 

 

Looking from the outside, it’s clear that neither side is really correct. Most managers would not intentionally sabotage their career by not taking advantage of resources made available to them in order to advance. And companies are not cruel monsters that don’t want to promote their own employees.


So it’s not a lack of goodwill from the organization or insufficient effort from the manager. Instead, it all started a long time ago, when the manager first started out as a junior employee. At the beginning of their career, the junior employee was already identified as a rising star. They worked hard, produced results, and became a key talent in the organization. Soon, they were promoted to middle management and continued to succeed.  But then, as new promotion opportunities came and went, frustration began to set in both from the middle manager and from the organization, who didn’t understand how this high flyer seemed to have come in for a sudden landing.

 

When very successful managers succeed at the beginning of their career, they naturally begin to rely on the behaviors that have gotten them to where they are. Such behaviors turn into habits - even unconscious, automatic habits - what I call dominant habits. Through middle management, these dominant habits continue to lead to success, eliciting praise from the organization. It seems like a win-win, right? Only up to a point - what I call the breaking point. 

 

The breaking point occurs when a middle manager’s habits no longer serve them well. The more senior a middle manager wishes to climb, the more the requirements for such roles change. And in most cases, these requirements differ greatly from the middle manager’s dominant habits. Often, the middle manager is unaware of this difference and so carries on with the dominant habits that have served them so well until now. 

 

For example, let’s say that one of the core strengths of a certain middle manager is her ability to develop and carry out complex processes that require absolute precision. While this might have led to her success as a middle manager charged with adhering to quality standards, at the senior level, this might not be true. In fact, her dominant habit could cause her to slow down company-wide decision-making processes, causing the organization to miss out on valuable strategic opportunities. 


If such a middle manager is unaware that her dominant habit of requiring absolute precision all of the time is, in reality, damaging, then her chances for future promotions will be slim. So at this point, two factors are actually preventing her from being promoted:

1.    Lack of awareness of her dominant habit
2.    Difficulty in reducing her dominant habit

 

This case is so common, yet it never seems to be handled correctly. What often happens is that the organization sends the middle manager to courses, where their dominant habits are unfortunately once again given center stage. In fact, the middle manager is praised for these habits. The middle manager then returns from the course, feeling empowered, but just the opposite occurs, and they are eventually deemed unsuitable for promotion. 

 

So what can a middle manager do with regard to their dominant habits? In my next post, I’ll introduce what I call potential habits and their crucial role in preparing middle managers for promotion. 

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Why Imitation Won't Get You Promoted

In my previous post “Why Managers Lack Empowerment for Promotion,” I addressed the very disturbing fact that so many talented managers find themselves unable to get promoted. At the same time, organizations are frustrated by the fact that they are expending valuable resources recruiting managers from the outside, rather than promoting one of their own - not one of the favored career advancement solutions. 

In this post, I will focus on what I call the Imitation Approach, in which managers believe they can reach success by transforming themselves into someone else - one of the popular career advancement solutions. In today’s world, the Imitation Approach has gained a great deal of traction. This seems to be for two reasons (quoting from the famous 1990s song, Mr. Vain):

1.    We know what we want (or who we think we want to be).
2.    We want it now.

These two simple statements are currently fueling entire self-improvement industries, including beauty, diet, medicine, and of course, career management. They promise to bring us exactly what we want  - and as instantly as possible. An offer no one can refuse. But here’s a weird fact: There’s a direct correlation between the rise in so-called career management solutions and the number of managers who don’t get promoted. Sounds like it should be the reverse, right?

The reason why it’s not the reverse is that we are supporting an industry that is actually offering the impossible - transforming ourselves into someone else. But when we try to become someone else, the best job we can do is to imitate them. Any kind of imitation - even the best imitation possible - will result in only one thing: imitation. It won’t result in becoming someone else. So when we aim to be someone else by imitating them, we’re just setting ourselves up for failure.

This isn’t to say we should give up on improving ourselves. I’ll go even further by saying that looking up to someone else and learning from them is a productive way to develop ourselves. However, when the goal is to become someone else, which is impossible, then you’ll never reach it, resulting in both disappointment and frustration. Not only that, your organization will view you as having failed.

So why is it that we want to become someone else?

1.    When things don’t go our way, we begin to lose faith in ourselves. Rather than strengthening our belief that we can and will get promoted, we quickly dispose of who we are and try to imitate a magical model who will lead us to our goals.

2.    We are anxious for instant results and believe that taking on another persona is a viable shortcut to success.

These two main drivers in today’s career management industry continue to spread the mistaken belief that we can transform ourselves into someone else. There’s no doubt that if the Imitation Approach really worked, we would be witnessing increases in promotions, but we’re seeing just the opposite. 

Therefore, I recommend that instead of relying on the Imitation Approach, consider what I call Inside Out Management (IOM). IOM shifts the focus to who you already are and what you already have - truly empowering you to fulfil your career dreams. For more on IOM, have a look at my Executive Mirror Program.

 
And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Why Promoting from Within is So Difficult

Throughout the last 35 years, I’ve focused much of my research on what I call the double tragedy taking place in organizations. On one hand, there are so many talented managers getting stuck in their career without any promotion in sight. This essentially subverts the career goals of a manager. On the other hand, organizations are investing a plethora of resources to develop their managers. Yet, when it’s time to fill a senior position, these organizations unhappily find themselves recruiting from the outside, rather than promoting one of their own.

 

Like all double tragedies, these two are interlinked, feeding on each other, and resulting in significant damage for the organization. As for the managers, their being stuck causes them to lose their motivation - so essential for the career goals of a manager. This inevitably affects those around them as well. They lose faith in their organization, in which they had entrusted their career path. For the organization, there’s a major let down as well, after having invested so many resources in developing the manager - but apparently to no avail. I’ve seen this scenario play out repeatedly over the last few decades, each side expressing their disappointment with this tragic outcome.

 

Here’s what I usually hear from the manager:

Manager: “I’ve been making a huge effort for so long - even evenings and weekends - volunteering to take on extra responsibilities - and I’m not even counting all of the courses and reading I’ve done. I just don’t understand how they haven’t promoted me. It’s really frustrating.” 

 

And here’s a typical conversation with the organization:

Organization: “There wasn’t a course that we didn’t send him to - and the hours upon hours of feedback...he never took any initiative to improve.” 

 

Me: “What was done when the organization didn’t see any changes?”

 

Organization: “Well, from time to time, we would see the beginning of some kind of change, which pleased us...but this was generally short lived. What’s really frustrating is that after investing so much in him, we still have to recruit from outside the organization.”   

In both cases, it always ends with the same question: “Etika, have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous?” 

 

Yes, I surely have seen my fair share of these situations and here’s what I’ve learned:

 

1.    In general, our tendency is to try to turn ourselves into something we’re not - instead of improving on who we are. This is what I call the Imitation Approach of so-called ideal people or characteristics. But unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work. Imitation will always remain imitation. What’s more, imitation will never last very long - and soon enough, our real selves will inevitably resurface. Of course, this leads to deep frustration, as we’ve spent so much time and energy perfecting our Imitation Approach. Even worse, our company has generally footed the bill, thinking that the Imitation Approach would transform you into a “new and improved” you, which it didn’t - and won’t.

 

2.     Many young managers segway through their entry level positions, straight to middle management, based on a set of behaviors they’ve developed - behaviors that have actually become automatic habits. However, at some point, these habits betray the middle manager, as a different set of behaviors is usually needed for more senior positions. The problem is that if a middle manager’s automatic habits aren’t tamed, they’ll prevent the development of crucial innate behaviors - ruining any chances of future promotion. 


As I mentioned before, this is the first in a series of posts about empowering managers. The next three posts will expand on each of the reasons I’ve mentioned here - and how to deal with them. 

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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What To Do After You Didn’t Get That Promotion

When you’ve worked so hard and have your career goals of a manager set in stone, it can be devastating when you are rejected for a promotion. This can be even worse when you have been rejected over and over again.

While you can’t change what has happened it is important that over the next few weeks and months you don’t compromise and ruin your next chance. After all, the career goals of a manager never run smooth, and may take a variety of paths.

It’s important to keep in mind that rejection may not mean what you think it does. Perhaps you aren’t as ready as you think you are. Rather than get angry and frustrated with your boss or disappointed in yourself it is necessary to dig deeper to find out what the rejection really means.

There are many things you can do to ensure that the next promotion is a shoe-in, but in the meantime make sure you follow these pointers.

 

Stay In Control

Don’t assume that your boss and others in senior positions have got it in for you. This will lead to ill feelings and situations where you might lose control.

Understandably you may feel angry when you first hear the news that you didn’t get the promotion. However, storming out of your boss’s office, and slamming the door behind you isn’t going to help you. Making a scene that embarrasses your boss, and also makes you look foolish will only damage your career advancement chances.

Instead, calm down by taking a walk or getting yourself a coffee. Don’t rant or rave to anyone. Try to put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Did they offer you some advice or pointers that you need to take on board? Do you know of any areas where you need to improve? Perhaps you just aren’t ready.

Taking action based on reason, not emotion is the best way to stay in control and ensure you are ready for that next promotion.

 

Be Honest but Reasonable When You Hear the News

When you are told you didn’t get the promotion you are going to go through a whole range of feelings. These may go from shock, to disappointment, frustration and even anger.

This is normal and to be expected, especially if you have worked hard towards preparing yourself for the interview. Your boss may be expecting you to lash out, too, so it is a good idea to be calm, but honest.

Tell them that you are shocked and disappointed. But, also remind your boss that you have well defined career advancement goals and that you are going to ensure that you won’t be overlooked next time.

Your boss might be feeling uncomfortable and you may not get a straight and truly honest response. As well, they might be focused on introducing the person who did get the job, and may not have time for you.

Now might not be the time to ask for advice, so make an appointment with your boss in a week or two to discuss how you can prove you’re really ready for that next promotion.

 

Congratulate and Applaud the Person Who Did Get the Job

While this might seem like a bitter pill to swallow, being generous and even kind is the best approach.

Let’s face it, no one likes a bad loser. It just isn’t a good look.

Your boss will be looking to you to see if you are really promotion material, and if you are bad mouthing the successful candidate it will only confirm to your boss that indeed you weren’t the right person and you have a long way to go before you are.

 

Find Out Why You Didn’t Get the Promotion

When you do have the next meeting with your boss approach your boss in a calm and controlled manner and ask them why you didn’t get the promotion. Listen carefully and take notes if you have to. Don’t get into an argument with your boss by disagreeing with what they are saying.

Instead, act on what you were told.

Ask for specifics on how you can improve your skills or what you need to do to demonstrate you can handle more responsibilities. Being proactive, however, will make your boss think more positively about your career advancement in the future, and if you take on board and improve you will be in a much better position next time.

Develop a plan for becoming a better candidate for the promotion and then determine when you could reasonably try again.

 

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

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