“I deserve being promoted; I delivered the goods as expected; I am better than my peers”. Sure, promotions are performance related, however promotion should be driven also by potentials – impact and company value – and not by comparison and past performance alone. You have to understand the value you can and will provide to the company and what a promotion to the next level will provide you with. Confused? Don’t be; just read on.
First of all promotions, and in particular senior promotions are driven by potentials. It means that the company will lift you to a new grade to allow you to impact a wider scope and/or have to ability to have a “wider say”. Promotions are important to the company as well as to you. It is important to the company, as the best way to improve, drive and deliver more value to your clients and ultimately to our shareholders. This is particularly relevant for a for a Service company operating in an IT context. Important to you, as this is the best way to grow, to improve and to make a wider impact. However, it can be difficult to focus on the right promotion aspect.
Let’s use an example: you have been in the IT industry for over 15 years now and hold the grade of a Senior Consultant. The next level is Senior Manager and you have been in our SC grade for 5 years now.
To be successfully promoted you should
Understand what you want
Maybe a bit obvious, however I am always amazed hearing people telling me that what they want to “being promoted”. Promotion is not a target – the role should be.
Many times, when I challenge the answer people tell me that it is difficult to define the role. So instead people revert to “I want to be promoted”. For me this is not a healthy target as many senior grades are very different to the level one below, and once promoted to that grade it could be very frustrating for people once they realised what they got themselves into.
What helped me in the past was to envisage my future role; what would do in 3 years’ time. How would I get to work (or would I only work from home); what time would I arrive; what would be the first thing I would do; with whom would I interact etc. I would try to detail it I such a way that I could explain it to my kids. Once I was at that level I would then see how I could get there – promotion was seldom the main vehicle.
Understand the value you can provide, today and tomorrow
Another key aspect. In your role you will cost your company money. Try to understand the value you deliver today and connected with 1, what would be the value you could deliver once promoted.
For me this is a very important point and far too many of my colleagues do struggle with this aspect. Image you as a SC would cost your company £400 per day (a random number and not real). So you should in turn deliver value that is at least of equal measure.
Not so easy to quantify however try to have a go. Look at a days’ worth of work and try to articulate the value in £ or $ you have delivered today. Now do the same with your future / desired grade and outline the case for our promotion – what is your future potential in the new grade?
Have a clear track record
This is your promotion panel entry ticket and not the only thing you need to get promoted. Many times I hear “I have delivered X and done Y. I expect a promotion”.
A clear track record is not the only thing that you will need to get promoted. It is a necessity as without it you will not be part of the promotion process. However it is not the reason to why you will get promoted. Again referring to the example this means that
Have supporters that would support your case
When applying for promotion you have to make sure that there are others that support your promotion. In particular when going for more senior promotions you will have to ensure that there are people working for you, next to you and people you are directly and indirectly working for, do support you in your promotion.
Assuming that you have to go via a promotion panel you will have to ensure that all members on the panel are already aware of your track record and your future grade potentials. And do not restrict this to the people you know – it is far more important to ensure that people that do not know you are fully aware before the panel – and not during.
Promotion is not your god given right
Yes, you have earned it; you have worked hard over the years and you have a clear sight on your next role. But, this does not mean that you have the right to be promoted – you still have to ensure people are convinced and you have to be sure that the promotion will be healthy for you.
I have seen many cases over the years where promotion had a negative effect on the person promoted. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
Stop comparing yourself to others
“Paul got his promotion and I am better than him so I should get my promotion as well”. Do not compare yourself to others. Make sure that you are being promoted on your own merits and on your future potentials and not because you think you are at least as good as someone else.
It is ok to compare to others to finding a baseline / level of expectations, however comparisons always end up in unhelpful and defensive arguments that are typically subjective and not objective. You will not help your case if you base it on comparisons.
Ensure that you “operate” at the next grade
Part of the army training to achieve the rank of a corporal you will have to be trained as a sergeant. The same should be true in our industry – as a Senior Consultant always try to act and behave as a Senior Manager.
Operating at the next level is another key entry point into the promotion round – but not the only one as above outlined.
Recruitment and promotions are tricky aspects in our world and to ensure that we are promoting and that you are being promoted for the right reasons, these points are important in my view. I say my view as these (as far as I know) are not definitive, cast in stone and absolute “must-do’s”, and rather some advice and observations.
Thanks for Reading!
About the Author: Gunnar Menzel has been an IT professional for over 25 years and is the VP and Chief Architect Officer for Capgemini’s Infrastructure Business. Gunnar is also currently the President for the Open Data Centre Alliance. His main focus is business- enabling technology innovation