Second, gather intelligence by asking long-time employees (not managers) what they think of management. They can provide you with some historical context and notable events that have occurred. Look for a pattern of behavior. You'll probably get all sorts of answers both positive and negative, so try to ask as many employees as you can and then draw your own conclusions. This is akin to measuring the blood pressure or happiness of an organization.
Finally, knowing the state of affairs with your employer, you can make an informed decision whether or not to even bother trying. It might be better to just cut your losses and run. But if you still aspire to a leadership or management position within your organization, here's what you'll need to do to get promoted.
1. Look and dress the part
The less you say at work, the better off you'll be positioned to getting a promotion. Other than benign details, be guarded about sharing too many personal details about yourself with anyone. If you're having personal problems at home, don't bring them to work. Even if you're going through a bitter divorce and custody battle, keep it to yourself. Don’t be rude about it, just be coy about discussing your personal business. Think of professional television and radio personalities, you may think they’re being open about themselves, but in fact, if you listen carefully they’re actually being quite guarded about sharing details about their lives. They say just enough to connect with the audience and no more.
Be very careful if you go out for drinks with coworkers. A little bit of alcohol can lower your inhibitions and you may say something they can use against you later. In fact, it’s probably better just to order a soda. Just tell them you’ve got to drive or you're on medication which doesn't mix well with alcohol.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "It's better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt." People will judge you by the words you use.
5. Be well liked and respected throughout the organization
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.
We're all complex, multi-dimensional people with many facets of our personalities. 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.
You may read these 10 things and decide that trying to get promoted is really not for you, and that's OK as not everyone is cut out for leadership or management positions. Sadly, the big reason we've seen people aspire to leadership or management positions is simply that they want more power and money. Ideally, it should be because you'd like to make a positive difference in your organization. Nevertheless, 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.