I received some great advice early in my career. I will never forget the conversation. I was fortunate to be traveling with our Vice President of Operations. We happened to be good friends and when you combine that with a two day trip, we were given the opportunity to engage in lots of conversations, one of which was how to get promoted. I simply asked him his thoughts on how to get promoted and I'll never forget the answer he gave me. I have shared his advice with most of the folks I have had the opportunity to lead over the years. He stated that there were three things that anyone needed to do to get a promotion:
Work really hard
Make your boss look really good
Never talk about getting a promotion
I am sure the look on my face after he shared his three points was priceless. Work hard, make your boss look good and never talk about getting promotion. Are you serious? His lack of a response, was, well, all I needed to know he was!
It’s interesting when you look at definition of promotion. There are actually two definitions as per Webster.
1: the act of being raised in position or rank
2: the act of furthering the growth or development of something
The first definition of being raised in position or rank is the one we typically think of when discussing a promotion. However, it is the second one, from my vantage point, that is the most intriguing, the act of furthering the growth or development of something. Perhaps in our eagerness to get a promotion—if we simply looked at the it from a different perspective—our next promotion might happen sooner.
When you break apart the word promotion, a new definition begins to appear. The word “pro” is often associated with “professional”. The word “motion” is defined as the action or process of moving. So, I contend it as this: The best way to get a promotion is to be a professional at creating motion or movement in the business.
What are you currently work on or thinking about that is creating momentum in your area of responsibility? Do people look to you to create movement? If not, why not? Are you a professional at helping create movement in your boss’s career? When is the last time you sat down with your boss and simply asked them what their goals were this year? How can you help them create movement in the business?
Become a pro at creating movement for the work you are responsible for and for those who lead you and you won’t have to talk about getting a promotion again.