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10 Tips to Getting Promoted at Work
Learn more about how and when to push for a promotion.
Kraken Images via Unsplash
By Anna Bradley-Smith
9 minute read

Chances are, if you have a job (or even if you don’t) you want a promotion – or you will at some stage.

Promotions often mean more seniority, more respect, more benefits, and, importantly, more money. But what does it take to get a promotion and how long do you have to be at a company to get one?

Here, The Org takes a dive into when and how you can expect a promotion, and shares ten tips on how to get there.

When to expect a promotion and should you ask for one?

Typically, an employee will have been at a company for three years before they get a promotion.

It often takes a bit of time to settle into a role and make it your own, and show why you deserve to climb the company ladder. After three years, managers and supervisors will be very familiar with you and your work, so it’s a good time to make a case for your continued development.

At some companies, especially ones where people stay in their roles for a while, it could take a bit longer to ascend given there may not be many spots to fill, and also with early stage startups where there are limited positions and everyone is figuring out their roles. Regardless, the two to three year mark is a good reflection point and a standard time to expect a promotion.

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In terms of asking for a promotion, there is nothing wrong with making it known you are ambitious within your field and want to stay with the company and that you are looking to develop. However, there is a line between ambition and coming across demanding, so be sure your requests are backed up by solid work and other essentials (listed below).

10 tips to get a promotion:

Although specific requirements for getting a promotion may vary from company to company, there are some standard steps that will always help open doors to a promotion, no matter your job.

1. Let your boss know you want one

As mentioned above, communication in the workplace is key and letting your boss know you are interested in a promotion is very helpful. It might seem obvious, but sometimes management isn’t aware you want to move from your current role or hasn’t considered you as a candidate for a different role.

The key with this is to be humble and clear in your communication. Make it known that although you might love and be great at your current role, you want to develop your competencies and find out what they may want from you in order for you to ascend.

That not only lets your boss know you want to climb, but also allows them to lay out a roadmap for you of how to get there and how long it might take, adding some transparency into the process.

2. Show your value by making your boss’s life easier

A great way to prove your worth is to reduce stress from other employees by proving your work is good enough to trust, and you can be given full responsibility for tasks.

It might sound counterintuitive, but by making your boss’s job obsolete you are showing you’re a high value team member who can fill gaps at the highest ranks.

Another way to show your value is to continue learning in the role; don’t rest on your laurels, instead show interest in learning and developing new skills that can help you not just with your current work but with work at higher levels within the company and as a leader in general.

Easily put, make an impression on your colleagues and customers as someone who is committed to being a top employee.

3. Look at what others who have been promoted have done

As with anything in life, look for role models for guidance on getting to the places you want to be.

Look at others within the company who have already been promoted, and those outside of it in similar roles, and see what steps they took to climb the ladder. Were they social? Highly organized? Team leaders? Whatever qualities they showed, be ready to develop those, because chances are that’s what management is looking for.

Of course, each person is different and you need to play to your personal strengths, so show why they make you the right person to step up – and show those alongside the fact you can demonstrate the general qualities management is looking for.

4. Ask for feedback from your manager

Another one that seems simple, but is very effective, is asking your manager what it would take to get a promotion.

Tell them you want to move up within the company and ask questions around timeframes and steps to do so. What are they looking for in employees in order to elevate their role in the company?

Then follow those steps and present the case on why you are the right person to move up, and then ask for more feedback. Remember, there is always room for learning and growth. Being able to receive constructive criticism and guidance without brushing it off is a real trait both in work and in life.

5. Show off your talents in the workplace

Just like showing your value by making your boss’ and colleagues’ work life easier, show your value by the value you bring into the company. Make your achievements visible and show how your growth would also lead to company growth.

Are you bringing in money, users, community engagement – whatever it is, don’t be afraid to mention it. Again, there is a line between communicating this in a humble way and being braggadocious, but don’t let those fears stop you from touting your values.

6. Be a leader and communicator

As well as looking for role models who have got to where you want to be, be a role model for others in the company. If you can show you’re a talented and respected leader, your chance for getting a promotion will always increase, as generally promotions come with more leadership responsibilities.

Take a leadership role in your team and show how integral you are to projects, both as a team member with ideas and problem solving abilities, and as a coordinator.

Even if you’re not a natural leader, amplify your skills and talents by showing you are willing to try out leadership tasks and do it in your way, whether that’s in bringing out the best in others, organizing and executing what’s on the table or doing big picture planning.

7. Be a problem solver

This ties in with showing leadership skills, and is a very important trait to have as a team member, especially one who is looking to climb the ranks. On top of the regular problem solving that comes with the job, you can go above and beyond and show your value as someone who can identify so-far undiscovered or untouched problems and find solutions to them.

Look around for inefficiencies or alternative ways of doing things that could save time, money or other resources.

Doing this, and presenting your work in a clear and concise way, not only shows you are a problem solver, but also a self-starter and a leader – all important traits for getting that promotion.

Don’t be scared to get creative either! There’s no harm in suggesting new ways to do things, and at worst it shows you are willing to think outside the box for the betterment of the company.

8. Be a kind and positive team member

A highly valuable trait to show is an ability to stay cool under pressure and treat colleagues with respect when times get tough.

Displaying kindness and compassion in the workplace shows that you are able to build with those around you and value and include them in the process, making a stronger team and in turn a stronger product.

Transparency, the buzz word that it is, is one of the most important requisites of building a successful company, and by being transparent, honest, and collaborative you will show company leaders that you are someone employees would listen to and like to work alongside.

9. Show your work ethic

This is another absolute of getting a promotion: have, and show, a strong work ethic.

Performance is, nine times out of ten, the reason why promotions are given, and are instrumental in the level you can climb to and in what timeframe. Show that you have mastered your current role and gone above and beyond to add to it and increase the returns for your company. But doing so, not only will you stand out to your boss, but your employees will also see that you are someone committed to developing the company and increasing the quality of its output.

Follow through on tasks and see them from start to end, show pride in your work and be diligent: these traits are bound to get you noticed.

10. Motivate yourself and those around you

Lastly, stay motivated.

This ties together with all the other tips, in that you want to show you want to be there doing what you are doing. No matter how good you are at something, you want to show you are passionate and motivated about doing it for this specific company and growing within its ranks.

Having a plan for your trajectory within the company and communicating that, as well as showing why you are keen to climb, will convince leadership you are the right person to move on up.

Being motivated also helps to inspire those around you, and increase the productivity, creativity and energy of the whole team.

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