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Last Updated on August 19, 2021

How to Ask for a Promotion and Move up the Career Ladder

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How to Ask for a Promotion and Move up the Career Ladder

I bet you’re thinking that you’ve reached the height of your career.

You’re scared to try new roles because you believe companies prefer younger employees. No matter which way you look at it, there’s no room to progress or a promotion. The problem is, that with this mindset you cut all chances of ever getting a promotion.

But you’re not alone. A study from Robert and Half revealed that only 39% of employees asked for a promotion.[1]

So what’s the solution? How to ask for a promotion?

To create a plan.

This is easier said than done. But, if you work on the right tasks I’m confident you’ll get the promotion you deserve.

Let’s look into how to ask for a promotion and move up the career ladder.

The Power of Goal Setting

Your perfect plan will consist of writing down clear and concise goals.

Goal setting is the most important skill you can master to achieve any type of success in your life. Take this Hardvard study for example, where MBA graduates took a survey on goal setting. 13% of students who had set goals with no concrete plans were twice as successful than the 86% who didn’t set any goals.[2]

The interesting part is what happened to the 3% of students who’d set goals with concrete goals. These students were earning 10 times more than the 97% class combined.

Intrigued?

You should be. Goal setting can make or break your chances of reaching the success you desire.

Setting Goals the Right Way

The first step to setting any goal is by defining what you’d like to do.

Since you want a promotion, write this goal down in a journal. Next, break this goal down into micro goals.

For example, ask yourself what’s required to land a promotion in your current role.

A great tool to break down your goals is Workflowy. For most of the goals you’re setting, you won’t have all the answers, but don’t let this stop you from making progress. If you’re ever stuck, make it your next step to find someone who can help you find the answers you’re looking for.

Finally, take time to reflect on your progress. In your journal, you’ll be able to view what’s accomplished and where you’re falling behind. I recommend you check your progress at the end of each week, month, and quarter.

This may seem exhaustive at first, but it’s intended to help you avoid heading in the wrong direction.

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Here’s a summary of the goal-setting process:

  1. Clearly define what you want to do (i.e. Land a promotion in the next 12 months)
  2. Write your goal down in your journal
  3. Break your goal down into micro goals (i.e. take 1 hour of a specialized course in my field daily)
  4. Write down daily goals in your journal
  5. Review your progress each week, month and quarter to make necessary changes

6 Steps for Career Advancement

Hopefully, by now you know how important goal setting is. It’s time to start learning the tactics that will help you get that promotion you deserve.

Although I’ll share several tactics to landing your promotion, it’s best that you only focus on 1–2 at a time.

This will prevent you from getting exhausted and help you master each tactic. Start by focusing on the areas you’re the weakest in and move forward from there.

1. Start with a Promotion Request

Demanding anything sounds harsh, but here’s why it makes sense to do so in your career.

Being demanding will allow you to speak up for yourself and not feel guilty for asking for a promotion. As mentioned before, a study revealed that more than half of employees didn’t ask for a promotion. That’s why being demanding is your ticket to ensuring you’re heard by upper management.

You don’t have to come off as arrogant or rude, rather be someone who knows their value. The problem is, you’re your worst critic. And, because of this, it can sometimes be challenging to focus on your positive qualities.

Here’s a solution:

Start writing down your daily accomplishments in a separate spreadsheet. Have columns for the date, type of accomplishment, and how you overcame your challenge. It may feel weird at first, but you’ll be building a personal database of your accomplishments.

Make it a habit to review this spreadsheet each week to know what you’ve accomplished. You’ll quickly realize what value you bring to your team and the company. An added benefit for doing this is being prepared for your performance meetings.

2. Goof off in Your Free Time

Ever wondered why people who’ve worked the hardest sometimes don’t get promoted? It’s most likely because they’d failed to network with others in their workplace.

But don’t take my word for it. A Harvard study revealed that lawyers who networked the best earned the most money.[3] These lawyers had a “promotion mindset”, while the others had a “prevention mindset”

People with a “promotion mindset” believe networking can bring them growth and advancement. And those in a “prevention mindset” believe that networking is a task they’re obligated to do. Even if you’re an introvert you can still be successful at networking.

So how can you improve your networking skills? By taking small action every single day. Network daily and don’t wait until you’re in need.

Networking involves building authentic relationships, so start by changing your mindset. Think of networking as building relationships first, and receiving help second. Make it a habit to improve your emotional intelligence daily.[4]

As you focus more on providing value for others, you’ll begin to grow a strong supportive network.

3. Spend Money on Nice Clothes

Do you dress better outside of work or don’t really pay attention to what you wear in the office?

If so, you may be giving people the wrong impression. Research shows the clothes employees wear affect their chances of getting a promotion.[5]

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So what should you wear?

The choices will vary, but wearing something professional is always the safe bet.

For example, wearing a dress shirt with slacks, and dress shoes is appropriate. If you’re currently wearing jeans and a shirt to work, this can improve the way your boss and team perceives you. But if you’re already dressing business casual, wearing a tie can be the next upgrade you make.

Your goal is for others to view you as the perfect candidate for a promotion. You don’t need to wear a suit to work every day unless it makes sense.

Get into the habit of putting more thought into your wardrobe because everyone is watching.

4. Give Yourself a Promotion First

Before you receive any promotion, you have to promote yourself first.

Here’s what I mean:

Build a mindset that allows you to feel worthy of a promotion. If you don’t feel certain about getting a promotion, then why should anyone else?

Besides working hard to exceed your performance goals, prime your mindset with visualization.

Visualization is a technique psychologist have used for years. This technique has helped people reach their desired emotional states and life goals.

Start by visualizing the outcome of your promotion

You can visualize two types of stimulations, an outcome or process. Thinking of an outcome involves visualizing the end result of your goal. A process-based visualization involves visualizing the steps required to reach your goal.

For example, if you’re looking to get a promotion, imagine your boss congratulating you. Then visualize the steps you did to get there. This could be studying on the weekends to learn new material, or taking on extra to help your team.

As you’re visualizing, focus on feeling the experience to reap the most benefits. It can take some time getting used to, but the rewards will be worth it.

5. Work Less Than Most

Getting a promotion isn’t earned by working harder, it’s done by working smarter. By being productive, you’ll be more likely ot meet your work deadlines and manage stress better.

Productivity is a skill that most people put on their resume, yet fail to execute effectively.

Spend a lot of your time practicing productivity until you nail this skill down.

Learn how to prioritize your work and delegate tasks. For example, if you’re struggling with a presentation, ask your teammate for help. Don’t spend hours trying to figure out how to create a PowerPoint slide.

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Also, look for ways to optimize your schedule. For example, if you have 5 meetings booked in one day, ask yourself if they’re necessary. Often times, it’s more efficient to communicate via email than waste time in a meeting.

If you want to boost your productivity, here’re 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time.

6. Surround Yourself with Motivated People

“You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

You tend to pick up habits from people you spend time with the most. So, surround yourself with with people who have productive habits and drive. Listen to productive podcasts and learn from experts who are achieving massive success.

These experts have the same amount of time you do. And, if they were able to achieve massive career success, so can you.

Do’s and Don’ts When Asking For a Promotion

DO: Examine the Present Performance

Make sure you’re surpassing expectations in terms of performance and that you have the expertise and credentials to support the desired promotion. Be honest with yourself about how you’re doing right now. Doing merely the job that is expected of you will not help you stand out; you must do exceptional work for management to notice you.

Maintain a good attitude even if you believe you are overqualified for your current employment. Continue to be engaged in what you’re doing and do it effectively to demonstrate that you’re serious about the firm and its potential for advancement.

DON’T: Go Under The Radar

While going above and above expectations is vital for standing out, don’t be hesitant to tell your immediate supervisor or other leadership team members about your achievements. It’s also crucial to provide regular updates that let people know what you’ve accomplished.

Consider taking on a high-profile project inside your department or as part of a cross-functional team. A project like this will allow you to develop new abilities, improve your network, and become more well-known inside your company.

DO: Maintain a Professional Demeanour

You’ve probably already imagined where you want to be in a few years, so start dressed, talking, and acting like it. Simple things like dressing for success might help you feel more confident and noticeable. Have a thorough awareness of your firm’s expectations, as they may differ based on your company or department in general.

DON’T: Be Afraid To Speak Up

Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss this suggestion if you haven’t already been considered for a promotion. Many people consider asking for a promotion to be one of the most stressful aspects of their lives, yet it can also be one of the most crucial things you do for your career.

Prepare to communicate what you’ve accomplished and how it’s influenced the organization, as well as the exact position you’d like to land when you enter the conversation. During this chat, be receptive to feedback from your manager, as they may offer recommendations and suggestions for areas of development to aid in your advancement aspirations.

When to Ask For a Promotion?

As long as you believe you are deserving of a promotion, there is never a bad time to ask for one.

While this may appear to be an “easier said than done” issue, all you need to do now is summon the confidence to speak openly and honestly with your boss.

Speak Up When You Feel That You Are Ready For A Promotion

Unless you make your objectives known, no one will know that you are ready for a promotion or a pay boost. It doesn’t harm, to be honest, and ask how you might position yourself for a promotion or a pay boost.

Always inquire about your company’s professional advancement opportunities with your management. After a successful project launch or when your contributions start to influence the bottom line, it’s the greatest moment to ask for a promotion.

These are all signs that you’re ready to take on greater responsibility, such as taking on a new project or broadening your career to include new functions or markets.

Don’t Put Off a Performance Evaluation Until the End of the Year

While a performance appraisal may be the best opportunity to ask for a promotion or a pay raise, you can also discuss it at other times. Larger businesses are abandoning formal performance reviews in favour of regular check-ins with their employees.

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This strategy illustrates the company’s ability to adapt to changing business conditions brought on by digitalization and changing client needs. Job scopes are updated regularly to reflect current work issues and possibilities better.

How to Handle a No When Asking?

It’s never easy to be rejected. It never becomes something we can just slough off without any bad sentiments, no matter how many times we have to deal with it. This is especially true when it comes to being passed over for a promotion at work.

Ask For Honest Feedback

Even if you want to leave the room as quickly as possible, stay and ask for feedback from your manager. This may add salt to an already swollen wound, but asking for input can demonstrate to your boss that you’re forward-thinking and willing to grow and work even more.

Make sure the feedback is specific and that you can create targets to address any issues. Push for more information if they say you need to ‘perform better work.’ What specific areas need additional attention? What are some examples of how you might be able to improve?

Give Yourself Some Appreciation

you’ve worked hard, and you’ve earned it. It took guts to ask for that promotion or raise, but you did it, and at the very least, you aren’t in the dark anymore. Instead, you’ve taken the time to examine your job and your performance, and you’ve devised a plan to assist you in achieving your objectives.

Try not to get too worked up over it. Sure, it could seem odd when you run into your boss at the coffee machine the next morning, but smile and tell them everything is good and that you’re moving on.

Consider Alternatives

Finally, you must decide whether you should stay or leave. After being rejected for an internal promotion, consider all of your possibilities.

Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of your current position and employer, and compare them to the advantages and disadvantages of working for someone else. Before you jump ship, make sure you have a complete and accurate list. You don’t want to look back on your decision to leave your current employment because you were scorned and passed over. Don’t make hasty decisions!

Additional List of Quickfire Tips in Bullet List Form on Asking for Promotion

  • Be Positive
  • Make a persuasive argument for why you should be promoted
  • Prepare a memo list that details your track record and includes solid measurements of your influence
  • Request regular comments and suggestions from your employer on how to advance to the next level
  • Your manager might be impressed by a nice PowerPoint presentation that summarises your performance and expertise
  • Be Patient; they will see your potential and give you the promotion you deserve

Final Thoughts

Picture a Monday morning and feeling excited to start your day. These past few months have been exhausting but also rewarding. You now feel that there are many opportunities out there to help you advance in your career.

You’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, began networking, and now feel worthy of a promotion.

You’re a completely new person and are more confident than ever.

The best part is, your boss saying good things about you to everyone in the office. You know it’s only a matter of time before you get promoted.

Wouldn’t this be amazing?

This can be your reality if you’re willing to work hard to improve in the right areas. There’s no secret formula to achieving great things in life. It only takes hard work and determination.

You now have a mini blueprint on how to get a promotion and climb the corporate ladder. My guess is that most of the people reading this article won’t take action.

You’re not an average person. You’re an action taker. Now go get your promotion, it’s all yours.

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Christopher Alarcon

Finance Analyst and Founder of the Financially Well Off Blog & Podcast

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Last Updated on September 5, 2021

How To Be Proactive At Work: 7 Habits To Build

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How To Be Proactive At Work: 7 Habits To Build

I don’t know about you, but it was nearly impossible for me to be proactive at work last year.

Every week, I would map out my game plan and color-coded my calendar. But when I tried to set things in motion, I faced ten-foot barriers that would force me to change direction. I’d have to reschedule meetings, push deadlines back, and reorganize my life because of all the twists and turns. Pivoting became my life, and it was taking over every part of it.

When I think back to 2020, it was like trying to survive the Tour de France blindfolded. By the end of the year, I was worn out, and I was in no mood to organize my 2021 goals. Being proactive was the furthest from my mind. In many ways, I didn’t even want to dream about new projects.

When January 1st entered the scene, I crawled back under my covers and hoped for the best—or at least a year that would be more predictable with less pivoting.

You want to be hopeful for this year, but a part of you is afraid of another year filled with more barriers and you’re tired of trying to survive the chaos. You’re not alone.

Over 100,000 businesses have permanently shut their doors because of Covid-19.[1] Start-Ups aren’t getting a second chance.[2] And according to Pew Research, one in four adults still have a hard time finding money to pay their bills.[3]

This reality is not the most inspiring for those of us who are business leaders. If anything, it feels like the grim reaper is right around the corner to destroy our dreams and add us to the rising number of failed companies.

Being proactive is one of the most challenging things to muster right now. But it is one of the most imperative traits that we need to embrace.

But first, let’s be clear, what does being proactive mean?

Defining the Term “Proactive” In-Depth

The word proactive often floats around the workplace, usually by well-meaning managers asking employees or their team to, “Be more proactive!” But have you ever stopped to think about what that actually means?

The dictionary definition of proactive is, “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”

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Being proactive is about dealing with any obstacles or challenges before they even happen. Simply put, a proactive person plans ahead.

For example, you’re buying an older home. The seller tells you that it has a sturdy foundation and an engineer confirms it. Most people would be satisfied with this answer.

A proactive person, however, would think beyond what’s presented and look into any potential issues. They may ask questions like, “How long is the lifespan of the foundation?”, “Is it earthquake ready?”, or “Does insurance cover the foundation?”

Depending on the answers, proactive people would respond accordingly and put safeguards in place to avoid these problems or minimise its impact. While it seems like a lot of resources and effort are spent at the beginning, it can actually lessen your stress and save you time and effort because you’re either preventing a problem or already have a solution at hand when the challenge arises.

This doesn’t mean that proactive people never have to put out fires on occasion. However, when you have a proactive mindset, most of the issues that come up seemingly out of left field are already something you’ve considered. And this makes you better equipped to handle situations calmly and enact a solution.

If you want your business to succeed this year, you need to be proactive at work. Situations around the world are constantly changing and you never know what the next month, year or even hour might bring and how it would affect your work. Planning ahead and preparing for the future is incredibly vital in our current climate.

Proactivity vs Reactivity

We can’t discuss proactivity without exploring the other side of the coin: Reactivity.

Being reactive is the complete opposite of being proactive. A reactive person doesn’t feel the need to address a problem until it’s already occurred. They simply react to a situation because it’s already there.

Spontaneity and the ability to address problems as they arise is important in leadership, and in life. After all, we cannot predict the future no matter how hard we try. But oftentimes reactive people encounter problems because they refuse to take action even though there have been warning signs of imminent trouble.

Reactivity also comes from a place of panic. Because you have not thought or planned ahead, you react instantaneously. You may not offer the best solution because you haven’t had time to fully review the situation, and maybe even create more problems.

It won’t be easy, but it will be a lot easier with the following practical habits that I’ve put together for you. These tools will make all the difference for you and your organization.

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7 Practical Habits to Turn Reactivity into Proactivity

Even proactive people can exhibit reactive behavior. No one is perfect and the corporate and business world can be unpredictable. But you can turn things around and be proactive even when you have not anticipated challenges that face you. Here are some tips:

1. Don’t Be Busy

Repeat after me: only do what is necessary—no more and no less.

If you’re anything like me, as soon as January 1st comes along, you cram in all your five-year goals into one packed year. You love seeing your schedule filled. But being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Being proactive requires you to take a step back, reevaluate your priorities, and actually take things off of your plate before adding new goals.

The brain is not designed to always operate at full capacity twenty-four hours a day.[4] It needs a break. If we’re constantly immersing ourselves throughout the day with frivolous tasks, then we don’t have time to concentrate on our goals.

This year, I’m taking a break from the chaos and learning to do fewer tasks with more investment.

Think of it this way. Planning takes time. It’s like painting an apartment. Before you can add color to the drab walls of your living room, you have to plan and prep the area. The same is true for being proactive at work.

2. Stop Trying to Run Everyone’s Race

If you want to direct the narrative of your life, you need to take a step back and get rid of the clutter. Figure out what you can delegate and then, focus your energy away from the distractions. Not every email needs a reply, and not every job is right for you.

Shakespeare said it best,[5]

“To thine own self be true.”

These six words need to become your mantra.

If you want to reach your goals this year and be proactive, you need to walk forward with laser focus. If you compare yourself or your business to the next big thing, you won’t contribute anything except a lesser copy of yourself and your organization.

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Part of being proactive is being creative. You have to be able to see the different angles and nuances in a situation or project in order to anticipate potential issues and come up with creative solutions. If you’re constantly looking over someone else’s work, you’re not focusing on what’s in front of you. And you could end up missing a lot of obstacles that you could’ve avoided if you were paying attention.

Stop looking around. Your purpose is not to run the race of someone else. If you want to be proactive at work, you need to stop comparing yourself to your neighbor and stick to running your own race. It’s the only way that you’ll win.

3. Make “Essentialism” Your 2021 Word

When you’re figuring out your 2021 goals, take time to weigh the cost. Ask yourself if it’s worth the investment. Being proactive means that you take into consideration all the variables before cementing your goals.

Before you map out your plan or get crazy with those highlighters, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Will this goal help create balance in my life?
  • Will this goal produce a return on investment?

If you can answer a resounding “yes” to both of these questions, then take these ideas and write them down on a piece of paper.

After you’ve compiled a list of 15 to 20 ideas, take a new sheet of paper and break it into two columns. The first section should contain a list of goals that take priority. These ideas would fall under the umbrella of being trend-related and financially profitable.

The second section should contain a list of goals that will increase your social proof and promote your priority goals. This column drives traffic and promotes awareness of your business and your product.

After you’ve compiled this list, break it in half and cut it down to three goals in each section. Three is the perfect number because it gives you leeway to pivot and bend if you need to make changes throughout the process.

The two excellent tools that have helped me develop a schedule of essentialism are Hilary Rushford’s Elegant Excellence Journal[6] and Jill Konrath’s book, “More Sales. Less Time.

Both of these tools have helped me focus on what’s important, make the best decisions for my business, and make a profit without sacrificing my health.

4. Order the Same Latte

When you look at the greats in the business world, they all encompass one thing: simplicity.

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If you minimize your choices and stick to the basics, you’ll have the ability to save time and focus your energy on decisions that require your creativity. Keeping up with the latest fashion trends not only sacrifices your time but also sacrifices your budget.

Remember, it’s not about looking successful. It’s about making choices that give you the ability to be successful.

Here are four things that you can do to save time to make you more proactive at work:

  • Buy multiples of the same outfit and mix and match throughout the week.
  • Order the same drink each day from the same coffee shop.
  • Prepare meals at the beginning of the week for lunch and dinner.
  • Set your alarm for the same time each morning, including weekends.

5. Don’t Pressure Yourself to Respond Immediately

It’s okay to be surprised or be blindsided. Sometimes things just happen that is out of your control. What you are in control of, however, is your reaction. There’s nothing wrong with not having a solution or response at hand. It’s okay to take a step back and think about it first before responding.

6. Put a Pin on It

If you find yourself being unable to come up with a good solution, you can put a pin on it. You may want to address another matter first, one you already know how to deal with. It may give you inspiration and confidence when you come back to your other issues. Unless of course the imminent problem is fire outside your door.

7. Prioritize What’s Important

The thing with problems that come up suddenly, is that they may have already caused damage you can’t reverse. You have to learn to accept the situation and instead of trying to solve the unsolvable, prioritize what’s important, see what you can salvage and take note of lessons that will help you in the future.

It’s impossible to be proactive if you feel rushed. But if you follow the above tips, you’ll gain more time in your schedule and have more energy to lead your business and operate with a well-organized game plan.

Final Thoughts

I think the majority of us are tired of feeling like we’re contestants in Survivor. After all, who wants to be filmed while living in the woods and surviving off of bugs and tree bark?

All kidding aside. This past year has been challenging. But we can learn a lot from these past twelve months.

If you want to be proactive, simplify your schedule, focus on your path, only take what you need, and be purposeful with your time and energy. Being proactive is not about filling up your schedule. It’s about creating balance in your life.

I know it seems daunting right now, and many of us are still trying to figure out how to pay this month’s rent with spare change from the couch. But if you take the time to prepare and figure out what’s a priority this year, you’ll not only meet your goals, you’ll enjoy the journey.

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You have all the tools you need to be proactive at work. Now, go map out your 2021 goals for the year!

More Tips on How to Be Proactive

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Reference

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