If your goal this year includes getting promoted at work, you need a specific plan for making it happen. It requires keeping track of the value you are bringing to your role, asking, and filling in whatever gaps.
1. Organize your accomplishments and contributions over the past year.
A lot of times we think we only have to keep receipts of negative occurrences at work to protect ourselves in the event something goes wrong but in reality, we need to be keeping receipts of our achievements as well!
Keep a brag sheet handy and update it regularly. You can use a simple excel spreadsheet to track your accomplishments. It should include information describing the project, what stakeholders were involved, how long you worked on that project and any kind of feedback received, you can even list whether the task was high /medium or low priority.
Ultimately, these will be your speaking points when you are preparing for the conversation with your boss. You should be able to say, “I worked on ‘X’ amount of high priority projects for the team, beat deadlines by ‘X’ many days or months, and this is the feedback I received in doing so.”
2. Discuss with your manager.
Ever heard that closed mouths don’t get fed? It’s rare you will get promoted without asking for what you want. Make the ask. The answer might be yes right away! Be ready to explain how your performance warrants growth.
Questions you can ask yourself to assess if you’ve exceeded expectations:
Have I taken on extra responsibilities (beyond my job description) in the last year?
Have I gotten training or developed a skill that makes me a bigger asset to my team?
How have I impacted the company’s bottom line?
If you find you have compelling answers to each of those questions go ahead and ask away! Also do the research necessary to make sure you ask is reasonable. You should be negotiating your terms within your ask as well.
If you get a “no”, ask for quantifiable metrics to getting to the “yes”.
3. Assess your blind spots!
You can take assessments in several different areas. One tool I find especially helpful is measuring your brand strength, because perception at work often directly affects your growth. Your colleagues need to see you as a contributor and clearly understand the value you bring.
Knowing how your value is perceived internally throughout your company can trigger action steps. If you find that you fall closer to the 1 end of the spectrum and no one is aware of your value, maybe you even aren’t aware of your strengths and value. You need a plan to identify your strengths and then address how you will start to promote your role as a strong contributor at work.
4. Address the blind spots.
Take a class. Get additional training. Take on additional responsibilities… Leverage your conversation with your manager to create a targeted plan.
First, look internally at what resources are available. There may be company sponsored trainings that can elevate your performance without requiring you to use your own personal funds. Explore if there are internal programs that can help you address your needs. Does your company already offer reimbursement for certain skills based trainings or education to help you close the gaps you have identified? If not, can you negotiate that?
Also, use your professional circle as a resource for your development. If you can be open with your network about your needs, they are likely able to help you close whatever gaps you’ve observed you have by sharing the right opportunities and programs with you.
5. Plan a date to check back in with your manager.
In the meantime, you should be working on your progress and make sure there is growth by that next check-in date. Leverage that initial conversation to get clear and specific about your growth development areas. If your manager says you need to improve on “x,” ask “how will we measure my success and growth in that area?” Think SMART goals and work with your manager to get as specific as possible on your areas of development and how they will know when you are ready to take on more.
Ask questions like, “how will we know if I’ve exceeded the expectations? how much time will it take for you to track my progress? When I check back in in 6 months, what do you need to see me doing differently consistently ” and aim to do exactly that. The most important thing to do is work to ensure you and your manager have shared expectations of what your success in your role looks like. That way, by the next meeting, you are prepared and can say exactly what you’ve done since the initial ask to demonstrate you are qualified for the next step.