This is a massive subject matter with numerous tomes penned about it, we're simply aiming to give you some quick simple pointers to point you in the right direction.
A promotion is not something that should come as a surprise. Ideally you will have been positioning yourself as a suitable prospect for the role well before the recruitment process is initiated. How do you do that?
Having the right relationships within the business is vital. These relationships need to extend beyond your direct manager and to two or three levels above you. If you’re doing a great job but the MD doesn’t know, there's a possibility that your boss may not put you forward for a role elsewhere in the business, as you will cease to make them look good!
It may seem like brown-nosing, but if you’re ambitious then get to know the powers that be. Get invited to the golf day, have a drink with them at staff functions, be nice to their partners – no matter how tedious their conversation is, and under no circumstances accept their advances!!
Spotting the opportunity in advance, keep an eye out for:
- You or another manager leaving a role.
- A restructure resulting in role creation.
- Company growth and team creation.
- An acquisition creating a need for a new leader.
Positioning Yourself Internally
Gain a business understanding of things that are outside of your domain. If you are in sales, make it your business to know support (a key link anyway), if you are a developer, get to know testing inside and out. If you get the whole picture of a business then you moving towards becoming a leader.
Ask your colleagues (i.e. the ones you want to manage) what is going on for them right now, what challenges they have, roadblocks or relationship issues. Then offer to help! Even if it is a welcome ear or simply re-framing the issue for them, they will notice your attention!
Perhaps the most important area. Take ownership for problem resolution, don’t escalate unless absolutely necessary. For bonus points, be seen to solve others problems.
An Important Note:
In taking these things on board, ensure that the key influencers within the business are aware of your growth! Don’t rely on the grapevine or their intuition to learn of your successes, shout about them from the rooftops, or at least whisper!
Employers like to see progression following a logical and rational path, not one that leaps around the place like a toad on hot tarseal. If a role has been offered to you by your current/future employer and it seems contrary to the path that you are on, you need to ask the following questions.
- What will the role add to my skill sets – more importantly, where do these skills take me?
- What type of people will I be working with? How likely is a skills transfer from that profile of person?
- Which industry sector is the role oriented towards? Is there transfer-ability of the skills into another area?
- Is the role one that will benefit me as much as it will the company?
- Your own value system will determine what weighting each of these get, and I’m not suggesting you take only your own welfare into consideration as your employer (if fair and reasonable) should ‘look after’ you if you take a chance on a different role.
- If your career direction has been haphazard (as most people's have), then make it clear on your CV why you moved around roles – i.e. state under each role RFL – reason for leaving.