There are a few do's and don'ts when it comes to career progression and securing a promotion. The first and most obvious is do not charge into your manager's office demanding a promotion without having given it the slightest bit of thought. Even if you have given the prospect agonising consideration, do not just rush in and ask - it would not be good for your interpersonal skills rating.
Any steps to develop your career need thorough planning. You have to know exactly what you want and why you want it. It is essential you know where you want to be and you have some idea about how to get there. When the time comes to broach the subject, it will be up to you to make your case, and let's face it, the response: 'Well, I'm a bit skint to be honest,' will not be very convincing. They need to know you are worth the investment.
Culture will affect your chances of promotion, and should affect your decision to go for it. Look at some city firms, for example, where a long hours culture is the norm. If deep down you know you would not be happy working long hours, look for an organisation with more flexible working practices - you are much more likely to feel comfortable and happy. Alternatively, ask around about your predecessors, particularly if they received similar promotions, and what kinds of activities they were involved in. If they were held in high regard, follow in their footsteps.
Then there is the career mentor who will be able to advise you on where you need to brush up. Somebody within the organisation will have the added benefit of knowing about influential figures and the prevalent culture. If you want to be brutally honest and upfront, simply ask your manager what you need to do.
After you have done your research, it is time to go on the offensive. If your annual appraisal or pay review is in the offing, start plotting. You might have several months to play with to prove your worth. Take any opportunities to manage or coach more junior members of staff, or particularly any newcomers. This will provide the opportunity to show you have management skills or potential to manage the department. Think of high-profile or visible projects you can
initiate or become involved in. Offer
to lead presentations and attend meetings where you are likely to get noticed and speak up. Good ideas are an effective way to get you noticed and gain credibility.
Should your manager suddenly fall ill or move on, do not despair. This could be your moment to shine. Seize the opportunity and approach the personnel department about the possibility of acting up. After all, with all of that mentoring experience over the past few months and those fantastic ideas that you have unleashed on the organisation, who better for the job?
Once you have got your position established, it might be an idea to give some consideration to embarking upon a course of study that would help your cause on a longer-term basis. Not only will gaining a relevant qualification help you in your position, it will show that you are willing to take on new challenges and that you are serious about the move.
And, when the time comes for you to step off the podium, the qualification you have started might give you the leverage to take a smaller step down. Many promotions happen by accident, and if you've shone over the past few months, the organisation will want you to continue to do so.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development