How to get promoted

Career + Application Leadership + Management


“Gone are the days of relying on annual performance reviews that, after a couple of cycles, will automatically move you a space like a pawn on a chessboard”, writes Gary Burnison, CEO of executive search firm Korn Ferry. 

Today, getting promoted is a process that people must initiate and manage themselves. “Don’t expect the once-a-year world to deliver your promotion like a package from Amazon”, recommends Burnison. Here are his suggestions on how to get promoted:

Don't be complacent. To get promoted in today’s world, you need to make it happen for yourself. Set milestones with your boss – not annual performance goals, which become meaningless as time goes on. What will you deliver next month, in the next 60 days? Lay out specific targets and hold yourself accountable to them. Ask for feedback, but don’t seek constant approval.

Ask, but do not demand. There is nothing wrong with asking your boss about how you can get promoted. But demanding it will put you in a corner – what will you do if you don’t move up right way? A better approach is commanding your boss’s respect through the contribution you’re making. This requires a shift in your thinking, from what you want to “get” to what you’re willing to “give”.

Become indispensable. That means your boss must be confident that you say what you mean and do what you say – on time, all the time. And while your boss is your most important internal customer, don’t lose sight of others who depend on you and can make or break your reputation.

Forget “me”, it's “us”. Performance leads to promotion. But asking to do more only to get promoted, does not necessarily help. Focus genuinely on the team and the company to increase your contribution. It’s all about what you deliver.

There’s no substitute for hunger. Hunger means engagement, motivation, and drive. It moves you well ahead of the complacent majority. When you’re hungry to advance to the next title and salary level, you have the “fire in your belly” to do what it takes.

Be curious. You might not think curiosity will get you promoted, but it will “stretch your brain”. You’ll be known for your ability to tackle problems in new ways and find creative solutions. And that will get you noticed!




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