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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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If you want to get promoted, never ignore your performance review

Another annual performance review has come to an end. And once again, you’ve managed to make it out alive. Good job.


But what’s next? What should you do with the information you’ve just gotten? You could be like 73% of all mid-level managers and just go about the rest of your day...week...month...and year.


Or you could take advantage of this yearly opportunity to significantly increase your chances for promotion - one of the greatest examples of goals for employees in performance reviews.


The insight you can gain from your annual performance review can be invaluable. It can translate into an action plan to put you at the top. But unfortunately, most people miss out on the important insights and end up remaining exactly where they started.


So the question of the day...or the year…is:  how can you gain the insights needed for getting your next promotion?


Before moving on, I want to dispel some myths. Many of you are probably thinking that information from an annual review couldn’t be nearly as important for promotion as, for example, raw talent or good ol’ elbow grease. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. If this is your viewpoint, then you’re promising yourself a nice, soft landing into the very same position you’re in right now.


You want proof? Check out how most people experience their annual review:


They listen intently during the review.

They interpret what they’ve heard according to what they want to hear.

They make conclusions based on their interpretation.

They make decisions based on these conclusions.

They form a game plan based on these decisions.

They play out the game plan.


So as you’ve surely realized, there’s a direct link between your interpretation of events and the action you eventually take. This is all fine if your interpretations lead to your next promotion. But what happens if you misinterpret what you’ve heard? You’ve got it - disaster.


I’ll give you an example. Let’s say a boss tells an employee that they’ve got the potential needed to get a promotion and that to make it happen, the boss provides them with solid examples of goals for employees in performance reviews. For example, the boss might mention carrying on producing the same quality of work, demonstrating abilities, and making the same time investment made so far.


Believe it or not, this kind of statement can be interpreted in at least four different ways:


1.    I’m well-appreciated and I’ve got a lot of potential, so I should just keep doing as I’m doing.


2.    I should continue doing the same things that prompted my boss to say what they said.


3.    I should try to do even more of what I’ve been doing so far.


4.    I should do most of what I’ve been doing so far - and possibly increase some of what I’ve been doing.


You can probably guess what the major mistake here is: trying to form a game plan on just some of the information required!


So where does the other information come from, you’re asking? From you, the employee! Now let’s rewind to the beginning of this post.


Well done for getting through your annual performance review. Maybe it would be a good idea to go to lunch or to step outside for a little fresh air.


Now, after feeling refreshed, visualize the promotion you’d like to have in the upcoming year and follow these four critical steps:


List the skill sets or accomplishments needed to get this promotion.


Make a table that compares this list with the feedback you received in your annual performance review.


Using the table, make operative decisions to prepare yourself for your next promotion. For example, you might need to:

continue doing what you’ve done so far;

add new skill sets;

modify some behaviors.


Based on your operative decisions, formulate an action plan. And most importantly, ensure to check in with yourself at least every three months to see how you’re progressing.


Diligently following these steps will help turn your annual performance review into a promotion action plan - and place you among the 27% who will succeed.


Good luck!


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Middle Managers: Your chances for promotion aren't as slim as you think

Should you go for a promotion even if you don’t have a chance? This is a question that many middle managers ask - especially after having missed out on previous opportunities and of course one of the most important factors affecting career development. All middle managers know the dangers of not getting promoted - eternal Middledom - and therefore you should consider things carefully before deciding you don’t have a chance.


My 35 years of experience have taught me that the number one reason middle managers give up before reaching the promotion starting line is fear - especially fear of what others will think if you are rejected yet again. How will you face your co-workers? Your subordinates? Your superiors? Can you afford to lose face?


There are so many unanswered questions and unsolved variables that you might decide that eternal Middledom is preferable than putting yourself out there and coming home empty handed.


This post is dedicated to you, who might be hesitating about applying for a promotion which you think you don’t have a chance for. But I’d like to share a few thoughts before you throw in the towel and give up on one of the essential factors affecting career development.


A Fighting Chance

Who’s the first person you should consult with about a promotion opportunity? Your boss? Your colleagues? Your significant other? No, no, and no. The first person is you. You and nobody else but you can decide whether to give yourself a chance.


Fortunately, over the years, I have conducted extensive research on answering this very question and can offer you two practical tools. The first one will help you find out if you’re ready for promotion, while the second one gives you the main reasons why many middle managers are rejected, even though they shouldn’t have been.


Armed with this valuable information, my guess is that you’ll realize that it’s worth giving yourself a fighting chance.  I say “fighting” because there are some things out there that will require some fight on your part.


Background noise

Background noise is the distracting bits of information whose job it is to move you away from reality and into anxiety. For example, you might hear a snippet of conversation in which a co-worker mentions that you’re not qualified for a promotion. If you’re insecure, you might take them seriously. But if you’re secure, you’ll tune them out as an annoying distraction. And why should this be treated as a distraction? Because you really don’t know under which circumstances it was said or

what the motivation was for saying it - or if it was just a repetition of what someone else had said. Or maybe the noise is that promoting someone like you is “just not done” in your organization. My point here is that information taken out of context is just as reliable as fake news.


A Direct Hit

But what happens when someone approaches you and tells you directly that you’ve got no chance? Here, both the context and message are very clear. But can you really tell why there’s an urgent call for your doomed failure? Unless you’re a mind reader, you can’t. But what you can rely on is that the same thing will probably be repeated to others, including those who might be deciding on your promotion. So, unlike the unreliable background noise, take this direct hit seriously and do the following: listen carefully to what they have to say and be ready to combat it if needed - completely doable with the tools I’ve mentioned above.


A Protective Parent

When someone tells you that your chances for promotion are slim, you think that they’re probably trying to prepare you for the worst - sort of like a protective parent. While this might be true, a protective parent could actually be causing more damage than what you think. Just by hearing that someone else doesn’t believe you can make it can reduce your belief in yourself  - and unfortunately lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.


So beware of the so-called protective parent. If the message gets to you that you don’t have a chance, my advice is to turn the situation into a challenge - and show everyone around that you’re going to give it your all to win.  Remember, you’ve already done your homework and know you have what it takes to get the job - so you have every right to compete with others.



The only person who can decide if you have a chance for that next promotion is you. While there will be folks out there who might think otherwise and want to commit you to Middledom, the ball is in your court.


And don’t forget the most important lesson: putting up a fight against perceived odds will show everyone - and more importantly yourself - that you are indeed management material - ready to take on even the toughest challenges as you head towards the corner office.


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Is your career stuck? Look out for these 6 signs of the writing on the wall.

Originally posted on the Noomii Career Blog.


How many times have you felt that with just a little more time, a little more patience, a little more staying power, a little more improvement, you’ll get that promotion. But as time passes, there’s still no promotion in sight - and you begin to wonder what all of this perseverance is about and what might be the real factors affecting career development. Finally, without even noticing how you got there, you’ve arrived at Stuckdom.


Thousands of middle managers ask the same question, year after year: How could I have possibly known that I’d end up stuck? This post is focuses on this very important question. My hope is that for those of you slipping towards Stuckdom, I can help you turn things around, putting you on the path to promotion.


The writing on the wall

Like many things in our lives, finding out if you’re headed towards Stuckdom can be as straightforward as reading the writing on the wall - one of the most crucial factors affecting career development. Though writing on the wall usually appears relatively early on, most of us tend to ignore it and its importance. To help you become more aware of the writing on the wall, here are some of the most known signs of approaching Stuckdom, divided into the most common kinds of situations:


Situation 1: Not being considered for promotion

No doubt that not being considered for promotion can signal a preliminary warning that something’s up. But if you’ve experienced any of the situations below, it’s the writing on the wall.


1.    Your boss won’t obligate to any promotion now or in the future.


2.    You can’t get any information out of you boss regarding why you aren’t getting promoted. Instead, you’re told to wait patiently.


3.    You’ve already been rejected for promotion twice for the same reason.


Situation 2: Someone else has been promoted instead of you

Being passed over for promotion by either a co-worker or an outside hire should be seen as a warning. But here’s the writing on the wall:


1.    The co-worker is all around less qualified than you. And the rest of the company doesn’t seem to understand why the other person got the job instead of you.


2.    The outside hire has less relevant experience than you.


Situation 3: Annual performance review

Your annual performance review is a good time to find out any plans for promotion your boss might have in store for you. During the review, some things are said on record, while others are said off record. Pay attention to the possible off record situations below - these are writing on the wall.


1.    Even though your boss knows you’re patiently waiting for a promotion, nothing is mentioned about it in your review.


2.    Even though you specifically ask about your chances for promotion, the answers you get are vague, such as “just give it some time” or “what’s the rush?”


Situation 4: You’re treated differently

You might feel as if you’re starting to be left out of things - getting less updates, being asked less for your opinion - which can serve as a warning. Here’s the writing on the wall:


1.    In the name of efficiency and time management, you’re asked not to attend meetings you’ve actively participated in until now.


2.    You’re not updated regarding some important developments and when you ask your boss about it, they act very surprised and say that it just couldn’t be. This will probably repeat itself in different formats.



When looking back on our career, we’ve all noticed some of these situations and have thought of them as out of place. The question is why we might not have identified them as writing on the wall. The answer is pretty clear; we simply chose not to. The hard part is that if we’d chosen to see the writing on the wall, we would’ve had to deal with it, which is really frightening. But the truth is that at the end of the day, we still have to face it anyway. So why not take action while you can - and avoid the slippery slope to Stuckdom?


Remember, the earlier you see the writing on the wall, the quicker you’ll be able to take action - and take charge of your own career.


Good luck!

And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Middle managers need to know these 2 paths towards promotion

Originally posted on the Noomii Career Blog.


So you’ve just heard about a promotion opportunity - whether it’s a new position in your company or the current holder is leaving for whatever reason. You haven’t been offered the job and aren’t sure if you will be. Should you wait for an offer or should you take some sort of action?


This is one of the most important factors affecting career development, so it’s no wonder that it’s is a common dilemma for many middle managers. On one hand, you really want to be promoted and know you deserve it. On the other, since you haven’t been offered anything, maybe your organization thinks differently. And as each day passes, things become increasingly hard to swallow as you begin wondering why you haven’t been offered the job. Anger and frustration build up, even with feelings of being personally offended by your boss! And all of this without even knowing why they’re not promoting you.


So you begin asking yourself. Why haven’t I been approached? Why am I not good enough? Why is someone else being given the job? The “whys” don’t stop. And you’re soon on the fast track to complete hopelessness, which can be one of the negative factors affecting career development.


So “whying” doesn’t help. This is the time to stop dwelling on the “whys” of others and concentrate on yourself - and the active role you need to play in getting that promotion.


The first thing you need to do is check your facts. Find out if there’s really an opening. Maybe it’s just a rumor and all of this hopelessness is wasted energy. However, if there’s really an opportunity out there, check when it’s supposed to become available and if there are already candidates lined up. As soon as you’ve gotten this basic information, you’ve have two possible paths to follow for approaching your boss: directly or indirectly. I’ll explain both below. Afterwards, you’ll need to choose the one that seems best for you at this time.


Path #1: Approach your boss directly

The advantage of approaching your boss directly is that it puts your desire for promotion right on the table. If your boss hasn’t considered you before, they can no longer ignore that you would like that promotion.  But it’s not just about storming into their office one day and confronting them. Before you approach your boss, you have to do your homework, which means building a sound case for your promotion. Doing so will prompt your boss to think long and hard before dismissing your candidacy. On the other hand, if your boss tells you that you’re not going to be considered, this is the time to ask why. Listen carefully, as this is super valuable information that will help you make your own career decisions from now on. I want to repeat what I said about preparation. Do your homework and be ready to state your case with hard facts.


Path #2: Approach your boss indirectly

The advantage of approaching your boss indirectly is that you might simply feel more comfortable than possibly challenging them head on.


One way of approaching your boss indirectly involves getting your message across through others. The important thing to remember here is that the “others” must be the right people. Otherwise, your message could be misrelated or even worse, sabotaged.


Another option for approaching your boss indirectly is by broaching the subject of promotion from a very general point of view. Without revealing that you know about a possible opening, inform your boss that you’re interested in a promotion and ask what they think about this. For example, ask if they think it’s right for you at this time. This kind of open talk is important for two reasons. 1. It plants the seeds of your promotion ambitions in your boss’s head. 2. It gives you insight into how your boss views your career path in general, without the added “baggage” of negotiating a specific promotion.


Whether you decide on Path #1 or #2, don’t ever give up on pursuing the promotion you want, just because it hasn’t been offered. True, while not being offered a job can be disheartening, there’s probably a myriad of reasons, which you’ll probably never know. So concentrate on what you can do and take action yourself.


Good luck!


If you have any questions about this post, I’d love to hear from you.

And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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How to lead your boss to your next promotion

Most of you will agree. There’s nothing more disappointing than getting passed up for promotion and veered off your corporate development pat.


But can you do anything about it?


This is the central question that millions of managers worldwide are pondering daily - especially given that only about 30% of managers vying for promotion actually realize their dream.


In this post, I’ll explain provide career advancement solutions by showing how to deal with a boss who thinks that you’re not promotion material. First of all, I’ll dispel some myths that might be going through your head.


It’s not fate.


You can do something about it.


Now I’m going to present two possible scenarios:


Your boss thinks that you might be promotion material, but they think you’ve still got work to do.


Your boss thinks that you’re just not promotional material.


Though both scenarios might leave you pretty hopeless, they are entirely different when it comes to career advancement solutions. I’ll be addressing the first one in this post and the second one in my next post.


Here’s something typical you might hear from your boss...as they let you know you’re not going to get promoted.


“Martin, you’ve really progressed a lot and everyone is noticing the improvement in your work - not to mention the tremendous time and energy you’ve invested. So I’m sure you’ll be a leading candidate the next time around. I have so much faith in you that I’ll personally help you bridge those small gaps that need to be bridged before your next promotion.”


Ugh. Martin’s boss has burst his balloon - elegantly, but still...POP.


What did his boss mean by bridging gaps? Are these gaps so significant that you can’t be promoted NOW? How frustrating!


Now let’s look at this from the boss’s point-of-view. Remember that the boss is noticing things from his or her perspective. They might be real or imaginary - but as far as the boss is concerned, they exist. I’ve seen this hundreds of times and have even dubbed it the “virtual gap” - the difference between how you might perceive yourself and how others think you should be.


Let’s begin with how you can avoid such an unpleasant scenario. As I’ve written in previous posts, your boss must know, very clearly from day one, that you are aiming for a promotion one day. So a year before you want to be promoted, sit down with your boss and say something like this:


“In about a year, I would like to be considered for promotion and I would very much appreciate finding out, from your perspective, what competencies I would need to develop in order to do so. Also, it would be helpful to know the areas where I need to improve.”


Hopefully, your boss will be receptive to such initiative, so your next step would be to ask your boss how you can receive help in building the competencies and making the necessary improvements. This step is designed to create a kind of partnership between the two of you in positioning you for a promotion. To formalize things, it would be a good idea to construct an informal mentoring program with your boss so that they become committed to this process. Ready my case study about Lisa, who used this strategy to advance her career.


Six months into the process, take out that original list of competencies and areas of improvement to gain their perspective on your progress so that you’ll know which gaps still have to be bridged.


Then, three months further down the road, set a meeting with your boss so that you can try to understand his or her perspective regarding a possible promotion. Knowing this ahead of time will prevent a future let-down and will also allow for an open discussion regarding how to proceed, with or without your boss’s blessing.


Following this process, while not always easy, will keep you in the driver’s seat when it comes to achieving your next promotion. It’s all up to you...and nobody else.


Good luck!


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Boss sabotaging your next promotion? Here are 4 reasons why.

You’re a superstar. You’ve met or exceeded your department’s goals. You’ve won over the trust and support of your team. You’ve even come up with innovative ways of getting things done. All systems go for promotion towards tempting career advancement, right? Well, not quite. There’s still one important thing to deal with: your boss.


Your boss, no matter how supportive he or she has been, could actually be presenting the most difficult barrier for your to cross on your way to the corner office. Bosses are funny. On one hand, they are there to manage and develop you. On the other hand, they have their own agenda. And your promotion could be a problem for them, unless managed effectively.


In this update, I’ll let you in on the four main reasons why your boss might actually prevent your promotion.  Then I’ll focus on one of the them, with advice on how to overcome it. In future updates, I’ll address the other three.


So there are four main reasons why your boss might not want you to be promoted.


The first one is competition. Your boss has passed on their hard-earned know-how to you and now you actually might present a threat to them. Industries are full of cases in which middle managers have taken over departments formerly run by their boss.


The second reason is that your boss simply doesn’t want to let you go. You’ve been trained to deal with every nut and bolt in your department and now you’re going to leave your boss high and dry...while you pursue your corporate development career path.


Third, your boss might honestly think you’re not qualified enough. Though this might just be their opinion, it’s an important one...and one that might very well hold water with key decision makers in your organization.


Finally, you might have caught your boss by surprise. Your request for promotion was completely unexpected. It had just never seemed in the cards. Let’s look at this reason a little more deeply.


You don’t want to surprise your boss, so let it be known from day one that you intend to be promoted. This doesn’t mean that you should come into your first day at work, declaring that you’d like to be the CEO some day. But it doesn’t mean that a fear of rocking the boat should prevent you from being honest and straightforward about your career aspirations. It’s all a matter of balance and timing.


For example, if someone in your organization gets promoted, take the time to congratulate them and to let your boss know that one day you’d like to apply for a more senior position. Hopefully, this would allow you to test the waters with your boss regarding his or her take on the issue. You might hear responses such as, “you have to work hard” or “you have to deserve it”. Don’t take what your boss says too hard or try to prove to them that you are indeed working hard and deserving. At this very early stage, you’ve accomplished enough by just letting your boss know that you’d like to work towards getting a promotion. While it doesn’t seem like much, this kind of declaration is important, as it is the first hint in a series of hints that will prevent your boss from being surprised by your desire to be promoted. And by the way, don’t skip this stage because you’d already mentioned career advancement in your interview. That’s been long forgotten by now. Besides, everyone says this.


Once you’ve proven yourself to the company for about two years, then it’s time to have an open discussion with your boss. If you can, try to plan a possible promotion about six months in advance, so as to allow time for your boss to digest your desire and provide you with feedback. Mention a specific position to your boss and ask for advice on how to apply for it. Listen carefully to your boss’s reaction, as you’ll need to plan your next steps according to it.


If your boss is for your promotion, you’ll get a great deal of advice on how to go about applying for the position...and you’ll be happily on your way. On the other hand, your boss might answer with a non-committal response, such as “we’ll see” or “we’ve got plenty of time.”  While this might leave you disappointed, it’s still very valuable to you in your journey towards promotion.


Naturally, this kind of response means that your boss isn’t really for promoting you. However, it’s good that you received a non-committal answer, rather than all kinds silly excuses or empty promises about “next time”. At least you know what their stance is. And you also know that you’ll need to curry support from other decision makers in your company.


A while later, another possible promotion opportunity will most likely arise. Notwithstanding your boss’s last lukewarm response, schedule a meeting in order to express your interest in the opportunity and to seek your boss’s support in applying for the promotion. Be sure to mention that time that has passed and how much you’ve learned from your boss’s mentoring, which has led to your improvement. Emphasize that your boss’s opinion is very valuable to you and that any advice that can be provided would be highly appreciated. One word of caution: show confidence in your decision to apply for the promotion. Do not waver or ask your boss if it’s a good idea. This will result in unfruitful dialogue, possibly derailing your intentions for promotion. (By the way, if you’re not sure yourself, why not download my ebook, Time for Promotion for FREE (an $8.99 value).


After you’ve made this request, sit back and listen very carefully to your boss’s response. You’ll find out your boss’s stance as well as what they’re willing to do, through both formal and informal corporate channels.


Of course, the best thing would be for your boss to express complete support and to help you apply for the promotion. But that’s not always going to happen. That doesn’t mean give up; it just means that you’ll be continuing without your boss’s backing.


This is the time to tap into the support you’ve been building up with other company decision makers. Sometimes, their vote will be enough for you to get promoted. Other times, they might pressure your boss (directly or indirectly) into having a change of heart.


So as we’ve seen, it’s important to let your boss know of your intentions to be promoted from the moment you begin your new job. In most cases, if you’re both on the same page, then you’ll be supported in your quest for promotion. In more difficult circumstances, your intention to be promoted will drive you early on to build up a network of decision makers who will support you on your way to success.


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Here's a situation you never want to find yourself in if you want to get promoted.

In my last post, we looked at four reasons why your boss might be keeping you from being promoted. This time, we’ll be looking at a tough one: your boss simply doesn’t want to let you go.


So how can you achieve the career goals of a manager despite a boss who still wants to keep you close by?


It’s almost an impossible situation. You’ve been doing an outstanding job and are sure that you deserve a promotion, yet your boss doesn’t want to give you up. Of course, the first thing to come to mind is that you're being penalized for having been such a good employee. In fact, what you then might feel like doing is to seek revenge on your boss by becoming careless with your work. After all, you're not being promoted is all your boss’s fault, right?


Wrong. Like in every situation involving two people, both parties have contributed to this situation. You’re probably wondering what you could have done to cause a situation in which your boss would keep you, such an exemplary employee, from being promoted.


What you might be surprised to find out is that you’ve played a big part as well. And it probably started on your first day of work. To prove yourself as a competent employee, you soaked up everything that you could about the department, even becoming more of an expert on matters than your boss. You loved it when your boss would refer people from other departments to you, stating that you were the one that knew the most about a particular subject. But you didn’t stop there. Little by little, you also began to handle tasks that were your boss’s responsibility. Over time, you became more efficient than your boss. Oftentimes, your boss would brag about your talents in front of other people in the department - no better way in terms of how to measure success at work, right?


So in addition to your earning points with your boss, you also “earned” your boss’s dependency on you. So it’s not that your boss isn’t acknowledging your outstanding work and just wants to keep you close. He or she is simply unable to function without you. Giving you up to promotion would be equivalent to shooting themselves in the foot.


This situation is much more common than you might think - and tends to leave many middle managers feeling both angry and frustrated. What’s important to remember, however, is not to let your feelings take control - and to think “prevention.”


The first method of prevention is to be aware of the ways you might be contributing to your boss’s dependence on you. In this way, you’ll soon learn just how much your boss depends on you. One telltale sign of your boss’s overdependence on you is their overpraising of you - both in terms of frequency and the kind of praise. What’s hard is that everyone likes praise. But overpraising, like overdoing anything else in life, is usually a cover-up for something else lurking beneath. In this case, it’s your boss’s admission that he or she simply can’t function without you.


To prevent this, you have to stop creating situations in which your boss overpraises you. Of course, it might not always be clear when this occurs. So it’s important to take note of such situations and then to avoid them in the future. In this way, you’ll develop a clear picture of how you might be contributing to your boss’s overdependence on you as well as the types of situations to avoid in the future.


Prevention should begin one countdown year before you decide that you’d like to be promoted. Check how dependent your boss might be on you. Do all department projects go through you first? Are you the go-to person for details regarding your department’s activities? Do you seem more up to speed on things than your boss? If you suspect the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then it is absolutely essential that you take this year to lay the groundwork, so that you can be released from your boss’s overdependence on you.


At the beginning of the countdown year, remind your boss of your desire to be promoted as well as the importance of the department’s sustainability. Taking both of these into consideration, stress how important it is to identify and groom a successor who will be able to take on your role one day. On one hand, this will relieve your boss of any anxiety they might be experiencing as they contemplate your exit. On the other hand, you might feel that bringing in your own replacement could present a risk to your career. However, keep in mind that the survival of your career depends on your being set free from your boss’s overdependence on you.


Another crucial preventive action at this stage is creating a group of influential decision makers in the organization who will support your promotion. This measure will help counterbalance any plans your boss might have to thwart your promotion - especially if he or she is over dependent on you.


Remember that these preventive measures can save a great deal of heartache and disappointment as you pursue your next promotion. So by identifying the signs of your boss’s overdependence and nipping them in the bud, you’ll be well on your way towards the corner office.


Good luck!


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Is your boss blocking your promotion? Here are 3 things you MUST do now.

I can’t think of anything more demotivating than this: your boss has told you that you’re getting passed up on a promotion. Period.


Is there anything you can do about it? If you’re like most managers I’ve met, your answer is a firm “no”  - as you go searching for some brown cardboard boxes.


Yes, seeking new pastures for career advancement solutions could be a possibility after being denied a promotion, but it’s not the only one. Consider this: take a moment to consider staying...even if it’s you against your boss.  


You against your boss? Yes, you read correctly. It’s a heck of a complicated situation, but it is navigable. As with everything in life, including career advancement solutions, there are two sides to this quandary. On one hand, you’re very upset because your whole future is being blocked by this one person. On the other hand, it’s important to your boss that his or her opinion is respected in your organization. After all, there are reasons why your boss rejected you for a promotion.


Now for the navigation. First, face your negative emotions, especially those directed towards your boss. Understand that it’s your boss’s right to think a certain way, even if they seem completely off track.


Second, realize that much of this is your own fault. Yes, yours, not your boss’s. You see, timing is everything when it comes to the career goals of a manager. You shouldn’t have discovered your boss’s position so late in the game. You should’ve found this out at least a year in advance of your proposed promotion.


So the first lesson here is not how to react after not getting a promotion but to actually plan your own promotion...and way in advance. Find out what your boss thinks so that you can at least know the reasons why he or she might not think you’re promotion material. Armed with this knowledge, you can bypass your boss by doing the following:


1.    Find out how influential your boss is in your organization. For example, if you don’t get his or her stamp of approval, how will this affect the opinion of other decisionmakers?


2.    Start building an alternative path towards promotion by finding out who the influential managers are. Make sure you get to know them so that when the time comes, they’ll vouch for your work and performance.


3.  Explore the possibility of meeting with your boss’s boss, to see if you can plead your case there.


While all of these steps will help you bypass your boss on the way to your next promotion, I want to stress again the importance of beginning this process at least one year before you want to be considered for promotion.


In a perfect world, you’d be promoted based on your hard work and results, but unfortunately that’s not always the way that organizations operate. Following the steps above can be a struggle, but it is the only way to succeed when you have a boss blocking your way to the corner office.


Of course, I’ve seen cases in which the boss has commanded so much influence that a promotion would be next to impossible. In this case, looking for a new opportunity might be the way to go. Even if their reasons aren’t justified, listen carefully. You might find out some valuable information about the way you come across, which you can take onboard as you move on.


I will end by saying that this last scenario is very, very rare and that in the majority of cases, you can...and should...plan your own promotion, with or without your boss’s support.


Good luck!


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Going for a promotion? Don't miss these 4 crucial steps.

There’s nothing worse than missing the boat when you want to pursue opportunities at work. Once they’re gone, they’re gone...but you can prevent this.


When pursuing your next tempting career advancement opportunity, the most important thing to remember to get ahead in your career is that you should take charge of properly preparing yourself. No one else is going to do it for you - not your boss, not your subordinates...and especially not those competing for the same opportunity.


Preparation for seizing a tempting career advancement requires research. Just as a product or service manager conducts thorough market research, an ambitious employee looking for career advancement diligently researches in anticipation of that next opportunity. This is one of the biggest factors affecting career development.


Below are the 4 things you must find out before pursuing your next opportunity. This is baseline information. Obviously, you’ll need to find out more according to the actual opportunity.


Like in market research, some of the research will be secondary - also known as “desk research” - and will be done by looking, for example, at your company’s website. Other research will be primary - or “field research” and will require you to reach out to other employees to get their take on different issues.


But before going on, it is critical that you record all of your findings. This way, you’ll be sure to cover all of the groundwork and use the information to the fullest. (See my post about Rob, who realized the importance of self-discovery.)


1.    What are the qualifications and experience needed for that next opportunity? How would you measure the gap between what’s needed and what you can offer?


2.    What are the formal and informal expectations of the position? What would be the difference between what’s expected and what you can bring to the table? To answer this second question, fostering your relationship with your manager could help.


3.    What was positive about the performance of the last person who held this job? What should have been improved? What then should you emphasize with regard to the advantages that you can bring to the job?


4.    How are you perceived by others? How do they see your strengths and weaknesses? In what ways can you use this information to “position” yourself strategically for that next opportunity?


If we had to summarize the most important thing from all of these four points, it would be to identify the gaps between what would seem ideal for the new opportunity and what you have in you already and then to do two things: (1) minimize and (2) capitalize. I’ll explain.


Minimize the gaps. While you might not completely fit one of the ideal qualifications, perhaps you have something similar to offer that could fit the bill just the same. For example, an opportunity might require sales experience with large retailers, whereas you have mostly worked with small mom and pops. You could highlight that though the sizes are different, you’re well versed at helping retailers manage their shelf space, which is actually a huge issue with large retailers as well. Here, you minimize the gap by showing how your existing expertise is transferable and can be of benefit to the new opportunity.


Capitalize on the gaps. Here, you want to position what might seem like a shortcoming as an advantage. For example, if a job requires eight years of experience and you only have two, perhaps you could emphasize that you’d be bringing a more open mind to the job than someone with more experience.


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.


In my next three posts, I’ll be providing guidance on competing for opportunities with internal and external candidates as well as what to do when you’re the external candidate.


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Promotion seekers: 4 steps to winning

There’s a new position open at work and the heat is on. Go for it.


This week, I am going to focus on what you should do when competing with a co-worker for an internal promotion as you move along your corporate development career path.


Going head-to-head with a co-worker over a promotion can be exhausting. First of all, as in any pursuit of a new opportunity, you’ll be expending energy on positioning yourself as the most well-suited candidate. But trying to beat a co-worker to a promotion has its own baggage as well - all eyes are on you at the company; your status is at stake; and everyone’s nerves seem to be on edge. But by approaching things in a planned and logical manner, you’ll be sure to win.


Here are four steps you have to take to get ahead of your co-worker:


1.    Get to know your competition. Not as your co-worker, but as your competitor for the job you want. The first thing is to identify the possible advantages they might have over you. But what’s important is to widen your focus to what others in the company might see as advantages. This will help avoid any biases you might have towards your competition, resulting in a more realistic picture. Then repeat this process with your competitors’ disadvantages. You should then have a clear list of your competitors’ advantages/disadvantages.

2.   Explore the job’s requirements beyond the formal description. Job descriptions tend to list experience or qualities that an ideal candidate would have. Yet the end of the day, there might be two or three core competencies that are really important when looking at how to measure success at work. For example, I’ve seen many job announcements listing “ability to work in a dynamic environment” as a required quality, yet in reality, most of the time, the person would be working in a very stable environment. On another note, descriptions might include formal requirements but exclude certain skills that are actually very important for the job. For example, an announcement might list several technical skills, but in reality, without team-building abilities, the job can never be done properly. Obviously, you’re not going to find out such missing information in the job announcement. However, you can take advantage of the fact that you’re an internal candidate and find out all of this through informal channels within your organization. If you do this field research right, you’ll know exactly what to highlight when applying for your next promotion.


3.     In this step, you want to take the information you gathered in (1) and (2) and create a chart listing both the formal and informal job requirements as well as how you size up to your competition on every requirement.


4.     Now that you’ve got a clear picture of how you compare to your competition, it’s time to build your strategy. First, make a note of wherever you have a clear advantage over your competition and ensure that you can express this clearly. This should be pretty easy for you, as you explored this in (1). What’s harder is dealing with the points in which your competitor has an advantage over you or in which you both are about the same. Here, you’ll want to surprise the interviewer - pull some rabbits out of the hat, so to speak. Such rabbits are going to come from what your learned in (2). So, for example, if both you and your competitor have impeccable financial management skills, you’d want to highlight the fact that you’ve initiated many new projects for the organization (which you’d found out as crucial to the successful execution of this particular job). In this way, you differentiate yourself from the competitor by offering information that is unexpected, yet can definitely be a game changer.


Competing with an internal candidate is definitely a challenge, yet by following these four steps, you’ll still be able to show that you - and not they - deserve the promotion.


Good luck!


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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