Fall is the most critical time of year for those of you out there in line for a promotion next January. If you have yet to experience the pressures of a promotion year, especially in New York, and this is your first time, the tips below are essential. Chances are, if this is you, you aren’t too far removed from your undergraduate days and I am here to give you that rude awakening you need to make sure you don’t self-sabotage and force yourself into an extra and frankly, unnecessary year of work at the same salary grade and level.
Complete all of your stated objectives
In order to secure a promotion you have to deliver, plain and simple. If you have written, stated objectives as part of your job, you must complete every single one of them, NO EXCEPTION. If you know you can’t complete a written objective, you must get that objective off of your list and understood in writing with your manager. Do not give any of the people who may have a say on your professional fate any reason to ding you. An “incomplete” on a stated and agreed upon objective is an easy out and you’ll have wasted a whole year’s worth of great work on every other objective if you miss even just one goal.
To the extent that you can go above and beyond the call of duty in the job you are in, do it. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pull long hours, even though time spent in the office and exceeding expectations are highly correlated. Perhaps it’s developing your reputation in the office as someone always looking for ways to help, and this approach, in many people’s minds, represents going beyond your pay grade to add incremental value. That doesn’t involve having to stay late every day and can go a long way in generating the necessary goodwill to secure a promotion.
Leave no stone unturned
Proactively think about all of the things that can go wrong that would put your promotion in jeopardy. List them out and then address each of them one by one. If you are a naturally pessimistic person, you have the upper hand here. For you highly ambitious and overly optimistic Gen Y folk, you have to give extra effort to identify flaws in your game. Knowing your weaknesses and risks are critical to self-awareness and the more honest you are about yourself and your performance the better position you will be in to place yourself in a position to succeed.
Promote your achievements publicly
At work (and in life, really) no one cares more or is looking out for your career more than you are. No one. It’s you and you alone. Knowing this, you have to be your best and most consistent cheerleader. Take credit where it’s rightfully yours and broadcast your successes whenever you can – whether it’s via email or over beers at happy hour, make sure you do so tactfully. Highlighting your successes in conversation is a balancing act (it’s so easy to come off as a jerk) but necessary to build your brand. Influencing others during a promotion year is critical, and any opportunity to shed positive light on your contributions must be taken.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.