“What got you here won’t get you there.” – Marshall GoldSmith.
Your employment income is in direct proportion to the frequency of your promotions. It’s quite easy to get promoted at work if you follow the right strategy. Personally I have been promoted about ten times in the last thirteen years of my career.
These are some of the strategies I have learnt and applied over the years.
- Get a professional qualification. I was lucky to do a professional accounting qualification (ACCA) quite early in my career. This one thing really accelerated my career and quadrupled my salary in a few years. You can find professional qualifications in almost any field of your choice.
- Performance. I have tried to always perform to the best of my ability. When you perform you stand out of the crowd. People notice you and take a bet on you. You will need to put in some extra hours to really excel in your profession.
- Solve problems. I usually volunteer to join project teams which are trying to solve problems in my organisation. I have volunteered to do all sorts of things from implementing ICT systems to fighting energy theft. Top executives like people who are willing to solve problems and they will fight to have you on their teams.
- Continuous learning. I tend to develop a deep expertise in my field of work through study. In one company I read all the legal documents about the business formation. Then I pointed out some of the gaps in an executive meeting and got noticed by the CEO. Later I was appointed to the Senior Management team.
- Speak out at every chance. I recall a staff meeting we held. We were split into different groups to provide some solutions to a pressing problem. I volunteered to chair the group discussion and present on their behalf. Then I made a remarkable presentation. One of the senior executives noticed me and she lobbied for me to join her team.
- Network. In one company I offered to buy lunch for a senior executive. When I met them I discussed my career path and asked for help to move up. Within a few months an opening presented itself and I was called to take it up.
- Lateral moves. I have made many lateral moves across departments. Because of my broad experience I can almost work in any department. I have worked in external audit, internal audit, finance, strategy, operations, projects, marketing, branding, etc. Don’t get stuck to one thing.
- Change companies. I have made moves across organisations. No need to get stuck in one organisation. You’re not the founder. Don’t burn bridges as you leave because you may need to go back.
- Develop managerial competence. In most organisations managers are better paid than the rest of the employees. Management is about delivering results through other people. It’s about setting up and managing systems to deliver results. I was lucky to participate in several leadership development courses. I also read several books on the subject. Sooner or later I was promoted into different management roles.
- Have a career plan. Don’t just go to work aimlessly. Have a vision for your career. Map out the whole thing. Where do you want to be? Which kind of organisation do you want to work for? Which networks do you need to develop? Which qualifications should you pursue. No plan is perfect but it’s much better than having no plan.
With the right strategy and a little bit of luck you can easily achieve your career dreams.