13 steps how to get a promotion to your first management position – and how to get promoted quickly ·
Getting promotion to your first manager position can be a difficult task, and it may prove impossible if you don’t know the correct tactics and don’t prepare properly. It is important to understand that it is not a game of luck or even patience. If you do not take decisive action by yourself, you might be in for a very long wait. This is especially true, if there are other people in your company who know what they are doing and are intentionally planning their actions and preparing to take the next possible promotions. In general, promotions are not given, they are taken by those who are prepared and have the needed knowledge and skills.
13 steps on how to get promoted quickly and get your first management positions
- Make a clear decision that management career is something you want. Most management careers don’t start by accident. They start because you decide to pursue a management position, put in the work, learn the skills, and tell the right people about your aspirations. The fastest way to get there is to make it a clear goal that guides all your actions from this day to the day you are promoted to your first management position.
- Take full ownership of your current job and deliver excellent results. You have to be able to produce great results in your work to be considered having potential for a bigger role. The most likely promotion for you will be a position where you will lead people doing the same job than you are doing now. If you are excellent in your work and deliver great results, your management trusts that you understand what is essential for your work and can lead others doing it (given that you have other necessary leadership skills and qualities). Taking ownership also means that you feel responsible for your results and don’t need anyone to push you or solve problems for you. You are able to drive results by yourself. Become a trusted go-to person when anyone needs great results delivered quickly.
- Become a problem solver: Whenever you encounter problems in your work, start figuring out how to solve them. Never complain about them, but build up a list of problems and solution proposals for everything in and around your work.
- Understand the bigger picture of your company, and organisation around you. Be brave enough to ask enough questions to understand why your tasks should be done, why they should be done in a certain priority and manner and how they connected to everything else in the company. This is essential for understanding what is valuable, and what is not.
- Get organised. Make sure that you organise your work well, so that you are able to prioritise your tasks efficiently. This way you can focus on high value work, and produce constantly good results, while you start to gather more responsibilities that are needed to prepare you for your promotion. The goal is not to be busy, the goal is to be productive.
- Adapt the growth mindset and put in into action at your work. You will most probably need a few additional skills in your new position. Check the requirements for the potential positions and make sure you build up your skills as necessary. The growth mindset does not stop only on you. You should adapt it also to your work and start to look for things to improve. Once you spot something that could be improved, come up with a few improvement proposals, and ask your management for permission to execute them.
- Gather more responsibilities. You should be always looking for chances to get new meaningful responsibilities that are some way related to the position you are aiming at. Maybe you have already made a few improvements to a certain process or tool that you and your colleagues are using. Go and ask, if you could take ownership of that whole process to keep improving it. Most managers are happy as you show engagement and ownership, and reward you with some additional responsibility, while easing their own burden.
- Shift your focus from improving your own work and results to your colleague’s and team’s work. This is the essential mindset change from a single contributor to a manager. Managers produce results by making sure that everyone in their team is producing results. While preparing for a promotion, you should start taking a bigger role on driving the results of the whole team. This is a balancing act, when you don’t have the formal authority, but it can be done with a positive attitude, encouragement, willingness to help, and just by showing that you care about the results of other team members. When you start taking this role, and combine it with all the other steps from this article, the surrounding people will start to see you as a leader. In reality, you don’t need a title to lead.
- Make sure you collaborate effectively, and lead by example – even before you are officially a manager. To be a manager, you have to able to collaborate effectively, and get the best out of the team you are working with. You have to be influential among your colleagues, and you have to have their trust and respect. The best ways of doing this, is always to take responsibility of the results, always keep your promises, and always be respectful and truly listen to your colleagues opinions. When you constantly work with high standards, and help your colleagues and team to achieve good results, even if that would mean some personal sacrifices for yourself, you are on the right path.
- Come up with complete operations- and improvement plan (or just a business plan) for the teams or departments that you would want to lead. This is very underutilised strategy to get promoted to management positions. It is however one of the most effective ways to secure a promotion to a position when opportunity arises. I have used this tactic myself to secure significant promotions within a short period of time. There is nothing that better demonstrates your potential and willingness to step up and lead, than presenting a complete plan on how you would run and optimise the operation you would be leading. Prepare this plan whenever you have time. Use all the information you have; your understanding of the big picture, a list of problems that you have gathered and the experience you have from owning and improving certain processes. Also talk with your colleagues and teammates to get even more insights to construct your plan. A word of warning: Your current manager might take your planning as a threat, so it might not be wise to do this openly. Keep it as your own personal training project and take it out when the opportunity rises.
- Connect with people around you and look for mentors and supporters. While on your way to first management positions, you need to have support and allies. It is good to get to know people also outside of your own team and department, and it is essential to get to know at least some members of management level above your own direct manager. The people who will decide on the management position promotions are usually at least one level above your current direct manager. The best way to get a head is to get one of the higher level managers to mentor you (check this article, if you want to learn how to get a mentor). Allies outside the company can be also very beneficial, as they can help you to prepare, and support you on your journey.
- Don’t boast, but make sure the results you produce get noticed. It is essential that your results get noticed by those who hold the power over the promotions. Make sure that you get the credit, when the credit is due, but be humble, and never try to take credit for something that you did not do.
- Identify the promotion opportunities and act decisively when an opportunity arises. You have to be constantly on the lookout for possible position openings and opportunities. Some of the best opportunities come in the form of people leaving the company, changing positions inside the company, or getting promoted to higher positions. Organisational changes also always present some new opportunities, if you know where to look. The best case is that you know about a possible opening already before it is made public. This way you can discuss with the relevant people and make further preparations as early as possible. You may even have a chance to influence the requirements of the position, if you get in early enough. When you spot a potential position, or even have a hunch that one will be opening soon, you have to act fast and decisively. Contact the person who is responsible for the promotion and present your case. Your case should include a showcase of your results, responsibilities, relevant skills, and the crown jewel of it all: Your operations- and improvement plan for the team or department in question.
These 13 steps are guaranteed to put you on the top of the promotion list once you truly commit to executing them. It is almost impossible not to get promoted quickly, if you manage to execute all of this. However, this plan looks much easier on a paper, than it actually is in reality. Thus a good deal of people fail in executing the plan, even if they know the theory.
If you want to make sure that you will make it, please check my coaching services at www.eotsc.com/coaching .
How to get promoted quickly summary
- Make a clear decision that the promotion (to higher level) is something you want.
- Take full ownership of your current job and deliver excellent results.
- Become a problem solver
- Understand the bigger picture of your company, and organization around you.
- Get organized: Show that you can manage your work without supervision.
- Adapt the growth mindset and put in into action at your work.
- Gather additional higher-level responsibilities
- Scale up your influence: Shift your focus from improving your own work and results to your colleague’s and team’s work.
- Become a leader before you have an official position: Lead by an example and collaborative effectively with your team.
- Come up with complete operations-and-improvement plan (or just a business plan) for the teams or departments that you would want to lead.
- Connect with people around you and look for mentors and supporters. Let them know that you are looking for career advancement.
- Don’t boast, but make sure the results you produce get noticed: build visibility
- Identify the promotion opportunities and act decisively when an opportunity arises.
- Extra: Know how to ask for a promotion: Read this article: How to ask for a promotion – complete guide
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