Six hacks for getting a promotion
Guest blog as featured on Womens Agenda 21 November 2016
Have you been working in the same place for a while, feel like you’ve really developed as an employee and have a job description that’s now nothing like the one you got when you started?
Or is there a new role opening up in your organisation that you want to be considered for, but you’re not quite sure if you’ve positioned yourself correctly?
It’s time for a promotion. Getting it is going to require some hard evidence about your worth, as well as a backbone to demonstrate you’re the right person for the job.
I’m now a CEO and have owned and run two businesses — and have previously been an employee — so I’ve see both sides of the coin when it comes to getting and negotiating for promotions.
When I was in my early 20’s I was working as a graduate engineer at GM Holden (as one of very few women). A change came through that meant that progression in the company was based on performance not tenure. BOOM! This is just my style! So what did I do about it? I firstly observed that I was doing the exact same job as the senior engineers, with many of my colleagues actually referring to me as the same level as themselves, not realizing that I wasn’t. I then spoke to my boss, who I thankfully had a good working relationship with, and found out what I had to do to progress this. It took a bit of work to gather the information and put forward the case (there was no precedent remember), but I did it. I got a decent pay rise, and I became the youngest Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Holden.
Below are my key tips for getting a promotion. These are my hacks — and they’re things you don’t need to another university degree to do.
Spend some time researching:
It’s vital that you go into the meeting well equipped with evidence that will help you put forward your case. Spend some time researching the salaries of similar roles in the marketplace, measure how much your workload has increased or changed since your original role, and gather examples of you going above what you were first hired to do. Ask if your colleagues will vouch for you if you are doing higher value activity alongside them. Make sure it’s not a completely biased assessment though, it’s important not to hide any lower level activity you may be doing, as the role should be reviewed in its entirety. Also PS, this is a great chance for you to think about how you can move away from those jobs. Then, you need to present this information to your manager.
My advice is to present your findings clearly outlined showing how you’re achieving and, more importantly, surpassing your key performance indicators and any parts of your original job description.
Demonstrate value to the business (but don’t make it personal)
If possible, show some numbers to back it up that demonstrate your value to the company. For example, ‘I organised 5 events this year with 5000 attendees and the customer feedback was 80 per cent positive which has meant an uplift in business coming in by 20 per cent.’ Read that last bit? Uplift in business. Negotiations are always about win-wins. More often than not employees approach pay rise negotiations with a very ‘me’ focussed bias. This may be how you’re feeling but whether you like it or not, this isn’t how business decisions are made or successful negotiations are carried out. So give yourself the best chance of success and think about ‘what’s in it for the business’ and present that too. If nothing else, you’ll impress some people I promise.
Work with your manager:
Don’t forget that it’s actually your manager that has to argue the case to their bosses to justify why you are deserving of a bigger pay check. They are an important factor in this exercise and I have heard some people feel that they don’t have the support of their manager. My advice is still to try. And if trying fails, you can then always go above them if you feel you have a strong case.
However, for the best chance of success, it’s important that you don’t just spring it on them out of the blue. So don’t surprise them, give them a heads up well in advance so they can also be prepared. Say you’ve been thinking about your role and want it reviewed. Set a time and place that you both agree on. Or if you have them, ensure you fully utilise your professional development plans and discussions. Most companies have standard professional development procedures, so if your six month review is coming up, make sure you go prepared, and ready to show what you’ve achieved since the last meeting. Using the forum put in place for you will demonstrate your professionalism and your manager’s are more likely to consider your proposal at the time that others are being considered.
Demonstrate your desire:
Desire and the universe is a wondrous thing. Throw it out there, and it comes back to you in one way or another. The same goes for careers and promotions.
So you’ve come up with a career plan, but you haven’t spoken to anyone about it, let alone the people who can actually help you with it. Sound like you? Yeah communicating our plans is often the bit we fall down in (this is a particular one for me!)
So in your planned meeting, professional development session or just a coffee, chat to your boss and other bosses where appropriate (go to your own first!!) about what you are thinking and where you’d like to progress your career. Do you know how many roles are filled without internal or external advertising? People in the know, knowing where you’re headed, will give you the best chance of getting there. If they see you have commitment to the company, and want to grow with it, they’ll be more likely to keep their eye out and help you find a place that allows that to occur.
Keep it positive:
Negotiations of any sort but particularly promotion related ones, should always include facts, future and growth.
NEVER start the conversation with a grievance or threat, as this automatically hinders your chances of being taken seriously. Avoid comparing yourself to colleagues or complaining that you make less; stay positive and focus instead on how much you contribute.
Instead of saying “If I left tomorrow, you’d have to hire two more people to do my work”, take an approach like “I’m doing 90 per cent of the work, you obviously value my skills and expertise” and let it be addressed appropriately.
Also, just in case you were thinking about it as a tactic… if you threaten to leave, you run a high risk of your employer not taking you seriously and giving you the opportunity to resign, no one wants to promote someone who is going to run when it gets a bit hard.
Make sure you are approaching the situation with integrity, and presenting yourself in the best way possible.
If they say no!
Unfortunately, you may find yourself in the position of a flat out no. The best option here is to find out what exactly you need to do to get to where you need to be and put a plan in place to get there. Then in 6 months, 1 year or whatever time frame you put on it you can then decide if this really isn’t going to happen for you. Whether you have to meet some new key performance indicators or aim to change to a different role at least you and your boss are on the same page and you have control of your actions and your plan.
It’s important not to take it personally. A lot of the time the boss is just weighing up what’s happening in the business at that time, whether they’re planning a restructure or reviewing the business – being gracious in understanding your boss’s position could stand you in good stead for the next opportunity. Bosses learn a lot about people when the answer isn’t what they want to hear
Also, remember there are other areas you may value that you can negotiate on too. Take into your meeting ideas around more flexible working, their investment in your training or other job and career options that may be valuable to you and your employer too and may have other value to you, other than financial.
LEAVE – Finally, if you feel like you’ve explored all of the options, you’re not getting the answers you deserve and there’s no plan in place for things to improve, it may be that it’s time to part ways. Some businesses just don’t have the opportunities to grow and develop. Leaving could be the best way to get you back in control of your career and maybe get that pay rise you really want (tip: sideways steps are always an option).
Hopefully you are presented with some feedback on why the decision is this one, please remember to listen to it. If you don’t understand, ask some more questions without going overboard.