1. Do your job well. I know that this is stating the obvious but it is the starting point. For promotion it is a necessary but not a sufficient requirement that you perform your current duties diligently. Many people think that this is all they need to do and that the rewards, recognition and promotion will follow. Corporate life is not ‘fair’ in this sense. Many people do great work and are passed over. You need to excel in your current role and do much more to climb the ladder.
2. Get noticed. One of the best ways to be promoted is if a senior manager in another department wants you. But this can only happen if they are aware of you. So you have to find ways to get in front of other people, particularly senior people, in a way that displays your good qualities and makes you memorable.
3. Volunteer. If someone is needed to present a proposal on behalf of your department, volunteer. If members are needed for a cross-departmental task force, volunteer. If the social committee want someone to help organize the staff barbecue, volunteer. Take on additional responsibilities both inside and outside your department. This shows that you are willing to get involved and it gets you noticed.
4. Discuss your ambitions with your manager. Make sure that your boss and your boss’s boss know that you are keen to be promoted. You can do this in a quiet professional way. Do not threaten or demand. Have a discussion where you ask the question, ‘What do I have to do to get promoted?’ Develop a plan. Senior managers understand ambition and there is nothing wrong with being ambitious so make sure that they understand your goals.
5. Work well with people. Many people who are technically proficient and excellent at task management do not get promoted because they lack people skills. Be aware of how you are perceived. Ask for feedback. It is not a question of popularity; it is more about communication, trust and dependability. Try not to make enemies. Find ways to work effectively with other people and you are more likely to be seen as ‘management material’.
6. Contribute ideas. Make positive, constructive suggestions for how things could be done better. Most managers (though not all) welcome this and it will signal that you are someone who can think about bigger issues. It shows that you welcome rather than fear change.
7. If you cannot move up, move across. Look for ways to broaden your experience. If you cannot move up in your area then consider moving across into a different area of the business at the same level so that you can learn new skills and make new contacts.
8. Have a plan. Set yourself goals for advancement and measure progress against them. If you need to acquire certain skills or experiences then plan to do so. If you are turned down for promotion, ask why. If you cannot meet your plan in your current organization or if you can make no more progress or if you no longer enjoy the work then look elsewhere. There are plenty of opportunities for ambitious people who work hard and are keen to learn.