10 Things You Need to Do To Get Promoted
Over our 90 plus years of combined working experience, we've seen what it takes to get promoted into leadership or management positions, and it's probably not what you'd think. So if you're aspiring to a leadership or management position within your organization, here's what you'll need to do to get promoted.
When I (Bryan) was in the Navy 30 years ago, there were sailors who worked in the greasy diesel engine rooms. Most of them walked around the ship covered from head to toe in grease and grime. They'd even come to the mess deck and eat without washing themselves first. It was really gross especially if I were sitting next to them. I'd lose my appetite and just leave. But there was one sailor who also worked in the engine rooms, but took personal pride in his appearance and was always clean and well groomed. We jokingly used to kid him about his cleanliness, but he'd just say that working in a dirty environment is not an excuse for filthiness. Guess what, he was eventually promoted over his peers.
I remember when I (Bryan) first started in the Navy back in the early 1980s. I was working on a hospital floor where there was a really dysfunctional working environment. After working there for over a year, the charge nurse gave me a very poor evaluation (she actually gave everyone poor evaluations), so I found another job in the hospital. When my transfer came through, the charge nurse fought tooth-and-nail to keep me there saying they needed my help. My superior pointed out to her that by giving me a bad evaluation she confirmed she really didn't need my help. In her opinion I was a poor worker, but I was still good enough to continue working there; she couldn't have it both ways. My next work area gave me a glowing evaluation when I left. I didn't do anything different, it was just that the boss didn't like or respect me.
If your superiors are politically liberal or conservative, don’t pretend you’re a liberal or conservative just to ingratiate yourself with them. If your political views are different, just keep your opinions to yourself. If your political views are the same, then nod in agreement. If they play golf but you don’t, don’t pretend you like golf too. Just say you’ve never tried golf before and you've always wanted to learn to play. Maybe they’ll invite you along to learn to play golf and you might discover a new hobby. If you don’t have much in common with your superiors, then just show an interest in what they like even if you personally don’t like it. There’s nothing disingenuous about showing an interest in others and their hobbies. All you’re doing here is managing which parts of yourself you share with others. In exactly the same way you wouldn’t bore your wife with a review of a football game if she doesn’t like football; you’d save that discussion with your buddies who love football.
The one thing you do have in common with your superiors is your work. Try to learn more about the organization and the industry you work in. Start picking their brains and asking open-ended questions so you can learn more and become a more effective employee. Start doing your own research on the industry and problems they face. Maybe you can come up with creative ideas that you can do on your own to help your organization become more competitive.
10. Do Not Drink the Kool-Aid
We've both worked for unethical companies like those described above, and the big career limiting choice we each made was to Not Drink the Kool-Aid. Many of our colleagues in those companies chose to Drink The Kool-Aid and were subsequently promoted over us. As far as we know they thrived in their careers whereas we both suffered. But we were more concerned about doing what is right rather than in just doing the right things to get ahead.
You may be an engineer who loves riding motorcycles, a technical writer who loves building sailboats and campers, an accountant who rides mountain bikes, a janitor who's the part-time pastor of a small church, a waitress who writes romance novels, a businessman who likes to volunteer at soup kitchens, a physician who plays guitar in the church band, or a scientist who sings in the community choir. The point is that you may only display a small part of who you are at work and that’s OK. In fact that’s a big part of the points we’re making here. You aren’t changing who you are when you follow these ideas, you are just selecting which of your existing facets you will show at what time to further your career.
Doing all these things we suggest is no guarantee you'll get promoted into a leadership or management position. Oftentimes, the best and most qualified people don't get promoted, and that's just a sad fact of life. But if you consistently follow these 10 things we suggest, you'll greatly increase your chances of getting that promotion you've always wanted, and you'll do it in an honest and ethical manner.