A job promotion happens when you’ve come into terms with your situation in your workplace that there is no other way but to go up the ranks of the hierarchy. This is loaded with a lot of meaning particularly for this writer. He was once told by his direct supervisor that his name was on the line-up already for promotion, and just waiting for the General Manager’s signature to become official. He was doing work along Human Resources that time (and would have actually given him easy access to information on promotions but since he was the one being promoted then, he didn’t know much about it). Well, it did not happen. It was one of the most embarrassing experiences the writer has in his career with that company. He felt humiliated and betrayed into believing something that he thought was already his, but was taken away without much fuss of an explanation from top management. In retrospect, this writer has learned many lessons from the experience, from which the following (what may be considered) tongue-in-cheek tips were culled for sharing to those out there who are expecting promotion/s.
1) “You have to really like it in order to get it.” Would you believe that promotions are out there for the asking? In order to ask for one, you need to really like it deep inside of you. You can not be half hearted about it, or you may end getting something that you don’t deserve at all (nor something not even half of what you have). How do know you like it? You spend sleepless nights, and endless hours talking about your desires to be promoted. You’ve talked a lot with yourself that you deserve this, and you’re working on getting support, both indirect or direct, from everyone in the company where you work.
2) You have to show to members of the decision making committee on promotions (or anyone making the final decision about promotions) that you have mouths to feed, and it will go a long way if you get promoted (and hence receive the corresponding pay adjustments). This works best for employees who have families, i.e. married, with children who are growing up or going to school). Management always likes to feel good about helping one way or another, their employees to have reasonably comfortable lives outside of work so they reward them accordingly. One way this is done is to give promotions. This author didn’t meet this criterion, as he was single when he was told about the promotion. Apparently, as this writer learned from other sources, the General Manager (GM) was concerned about the value of a promotion to this writer then, and asked if he was married. The GM did not agree to giving him a promotion. This may be quirky but readers have to take serious note if this applies as well in their respective work places (as it did happen to this writer).
3) You have actually prepared someone to replace you in case you’re promoted. There are many ways of doing this. One way is delegating (depending on your level in the hierarchy), or sharing your job assignments with others in your team (as far as your situation will make this doable).
4) You’re a straight person, or you belong to a certain race or even just because you’re a male. Of course, this observation may sound outright discriminatory, but this thing happens just the same. Managers or those who make decisions on promotions generally like to promote their own kind, or even those who are not so different from them as a person-someone who will not cause upheavals in the power structure of the company-mainly for practical reasons (e.g. you prefer to work with someone you know as a person, as “differences” can actually be an additional load to manage, given the usual workload given to employees, managers, and rank & file alike). This writer also experienced that (i.e. getting discriminated), as he heard from trustworthy sources that his being gay (though not out in the workplace then) has worked against him to be considered for a promotion.
5) You have to be qualified in terms of experience, education, and other personality requirements for you to be effective in doing your new job (in case you get promoted). This is basic, actually, but this may usually not be weighed seriously by those seeking to be promoted. You have to posses the necessary credentials, including years of actual hands on experience, accomplishments in your present work, and the values you have delivered to the company.
6) There has to be a vacancy internally in the structure before a promotion can happen. This is another basic premise. If there is none, it is your job to prod Management to create a position. You will do your prodding by making yourself available for the position, and by clearly sending signals to Management that you actually want the promotion.
7) You have to be doing a line function job, which in management theory, describes those works contributing directly to revenue creation of the company. These jobs include, mostly and typically, those in sales and marketing, manufacturing, operations, or those work areas that are the core activities of the company. Of course, promotions also are given to those doing “staff” function positions (those jobs along finance, human resource, among others), but they come only after many years of service generally. This is mainly due to difficulties in providing cash value to the contributions being done by those doing such “staff” jobs. However, this may be fast changing in these times, due to effects brought about by technology, and much faster cycles of delivering new products and services to the market anywhere in the world.
8) You are going to be promoted when it will actually bring in additional, and preferably, create more profit to the company, as measured by the revenues you will endeavor to bring to the company versus the costs of keeping your job in the hierarchy. This is somewhat linked to number “7”, but the difference lies mainly on measures related to cost-analysis, which people or specialists in the finance, accounting, budget, controller group may work out for top management to act on. In short, your promotion won’t make a dent on the budget, but will actually create more business to the company.
9) You will always get a promotion, when you have learned to play the politics at the workplace to your advantage. It is nave to ignore the dynamics of politics at the workplace, just like any other organization. Make sure you study and understand how power is distributed, created, shared in the structure of your company. Get all the help you can in order to do this (e.g. asking HR to explain the structure of the company, learn who are the major stakeholders in your company, etc. ). Make the structure work for you. Learn and make your self known to people who matter. They may be secretaries of the top bosses, who can say a thing or two for you to be considered for a promotion, or you can promise the secretary that you can also return the favor (there are ways of doing these, which is outside the scope of this article). Also keep in mind that the higher you go in the hierarchy in your workplace, the more games of politics can be expected (though in very subtle, or sophisticated way).
10) If you are really frustrated because you are being ignored by your boss for many years for a promotion, and if you happen to be married, ask your spouse to talk with top management or to your boss directly about your need for a promotion. Again, there are many creative ways of doing this.
11) Plus, you may consider playing roles at the work place, by creating impression that you are on the lookout for a better job. You may show up better dressed than usual on random days, thus showing to your co-workers and your boss that you may have been doing interviews outside of the company. This may create some shock value to some decision makers, but be careful in putting this into action.
12) Lastly, as Peter Drucker (management science icon) suggested in one of his books, you need to learn how to manage your boss. It is a complete learning process by itself. To be able to study the whims and caprices of your boss. In the process, you will also learn to become more confident in making your boss understand that you are a trusted ally (or a devoted servant, depending on how you look at it). You can proceed to becoming more strategic. You will then have to help your boss get a promotion, so that you will be given a promotion in return.
But on the overall, all these steps can be studied in the light of your current circumstances. The tips outlined above will apply accordingly, but depending mainly on the situation. And if you are interested what happened after the promotion was withheld from this writer. Well, he eventually got the promised promotion after nearly 2 years, after the General Manager has been able to know this writer better. This writer learned about getting promotion the hard way, by mainly doing special projects for the General Manager, and has become a trusted gaffer for this big boss.