Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour

Ep. #69 Five Steps to Get Your Next Promotion

September 21, 2023 Jean Balfour Season 2 Episode 69
Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour
Ep. #69 Five Steps to Get Your Next Promotion
Show Notes Transcript

Over the years, I've had the privilege of coaching countless individuals on their journey to success, and I've witnessed some incredible transformations. 

Whether you're eyeing that next big promotion or simply want to level up your career game, here are 5 tips you should consider applying in your role today.

Podcast recommendations
Ep. #8 Nine Ways to be Politically Savvy at Work
Ep. #40 The Gift of Feedback - Even if it Hurts!
Ep. #54 Building a Growth Mindset
Ep. #63 Making a Bold Career Move with Vanessa Teo

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Connect with Jean Balfour on Instagram @jean.balfour 

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Hi everyone and welcome to Making Sense of Work. One of the aspects of my job that I really love is helping people, particularly helping women, create a plan for progression and for promotion. I've seen that occasionally people are promoted without appearing to do too much planning or work, but mostly progressing in an organization comes after thought, it involves a careful plan and quite a lot of work. And in today's episode, I'm sharing. Some of the tips and tricks that I've learned to support your promotion journey. These come from many years of coaching individuals to help them progress. And, and most successfully, I've really seen people get their dream roles by applying some of these things today. And of course, others, these are not an exhaustive list, but this is the things that I've learned that I've seen people do to help them to be successful. Before we jump in, I want to just make a note about why this is specifically important for women. We are still in a place, as you all know, where fewer women than should be are being promoted. We see most organizations, not all, but most have fewer women in senior leadership. And so I believe that we still need to keep focusing on this, helping women work out how to get there and how to do that in an authentic way. And so what I'm going to do is to share the ideas that I've got about how to do this authentically, and how also to be very practical about it. I'm going to share. Very practical ideas and things that you can do that are based on my experience of helping both women and men progress. But I'm really on the case about how can we help more women. Let's just have a look at the context that we're in. Most organizations have Programs for high potential talent. There's usually a talent manager whose responsibility it is to work with senior leaders, with other leaders in the organization to look and say, who do we believe has the potential for progression and to move in the organization? And these programs are fantastic and we need them to carry on and to keep that. But sometimes the right people don't make it into these programs. And sometimes the pathway to success is not clear enough. And so it's important that we take ownership. And this links to my strong belief that our career is our career. And that we serve ourselves better if we also are clear about our plan. and take steps to make it happen. So we may be on the talent pipeline. We may not be, but either way, we can still do these things to help ourselves progress. The other thing, of course, is that promotion isn't for everyone. For some of us, we're really happy to let our career unfold. Or maybe we're in a season where we're not hungry to move. Sometimes we are in that season. If we really want to get on, sometimes we're happy to stay where we are. But so this really today. is for you if you're in that stage of either being hungry or a bit curious, or maybe you're thinking, I think I could get a promotion. I don't know what to do. I'm going to share with you some things to help you to get there. I've covered this on five areas that I think help us. And as I've said, these aren't everything. So if you're really stuck, go and find a coach to help you, to help you to think about what you can do, but also to help you think about your personal roadblocks, what might. personally stop you from getting there? And how do you work through those? How do you overcome them? The five areas that I've got are, one, get really clear about your goals. Two, be proactive. Three, ensure your high potential. Four, be trustworthy. And five, develop and grow your leadership ability. But particularly your emotional intelligence. So let's dive in and start with get clear about your goals. As we're talking about promotion, this might seem really obvious. However, promotion doesn't happen in isolation. We need to understand how it relates to our overall goal, especially as we may need to explain this to others as we go along. We may find that if we say to people, I'm really interested in being promoted, people maybe asking, you know, why, how does this fit into your plan? So work on having a three to five year plan or even a 10 year plan. Some of us are okay with three to five years, but I do know some people who have 10 or even someone I know has got a 15 year plan, but have a plan. Look at a few of the types of roles that you'd like next and maybe the roles that you would like after that and create some clear goals around those. And then test them with people and write them down. Now with the roles that you're curious about, also look at how do you stack up against those roles? So what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses in relation to them? Do you have knowledge gaps? Do you have experience gaps? And how could you plan to bridge those gaps? A few examples, a common example is someone who's thinking that they might like to step into a leadership role. But they're not yet in leadership and this can feel like a bit of a catch 22. How do I demonstrate leadership and yet I'm not a leader? So in that space, look for opportunities to demonstrate leadership, lead on projects, do some work with your employee resource groups or corporate social responsibility, begin to step up into opportunities for leadership without the title. If you're not sure what these new roles need, what the experience requirement is, go and find people in the roles already. Now, if that's too awkward to do that in your own organization, go and find people in another organization and, and find out what's needed. How did they get there? LinkedIn is a massively helpful tool here. Go back and have a look at people in those roles and see what their career journey was to get theirs. Yours, of course, doesn't have to be the same, but it will give you some clues. You may, at this stage, also decide that you have a long term plan and you may need to take a sideways move, or you may need to move up into another function to get the stretch to demonstrate where you're going. Teer in Episode 6, 63. You can hear a great example of her recent move, which was moving up into another function so that she could get some great experience to support her career. So don't forget to write your plan down. That really will help you focus your mind and help you think about where you're headed. And if you're really stuck, if you're really not sure, then go and talk to a mentor or coach to help you clarify that to get really clear. Okay, number two is be proactive. This is relating to both how you're behaving and how you're thinking yourself. So how you're thinking about what's possible. From a practical perspective, start looking for opportunities now, even if you think you're a year out. If you see an opportunity, Go and talk to the leader in that space. The hiring manager, perhaps somebody in HR. So many times in my career, I've heard senior leaders say that when a new role comes up, all the men go knock on their door and tell them why they're great for the role, but none of the women. Now, this is an organizational process that we need to sort out. We need to make sure that the playing field is level. But in the meantime, we need to be knocking on doors. We need to have some courage, reach out, be proactive. Link to this is that it's good to be seen as being a yes and a can do person. Now within reason, of course, not, uh, being overburdened with stuff, but being prepared to be proactive, be positive, be seen as someone who's willing to try things, perhaps get your hand dirty. Going the extra mile and not doing this silently. So doing this quietly in the corner, not telling anybody you're doing it is not going to help you. You need to be proactive and making sure that your name's on the additional work so that people are seeing that you're really stepping up. You're really stepping into it. Be proactive with mentors and sponsors and with your line manager. Don't wait for them to come to you. Put time in their diary, share goals and ambitions, ask for insights. Ask for ideas for action. At this stage, you also may want to think about proactively finding out what are the criteria for promotion in your organization. Do you understand what it is that needs to happen? In many organizations with many individuals I've worked with, there are leadership standards or behaviors, and you need to see how you stand up against these. There are a couple of things that stand out for me. For example, in the financial services sector, there is a point at which you need to be able to demonstrate that you're politically savvy, that you can use ethical politics within the organization because they're going to expect you to navigate the organization to get things done. And that you also need to be seen as somebody who is Uh, resilient and also manages themselves well if you want to get into those senior roles and learning that, knowing what those slightly unwritten criteria are, will help you know how you demonstrate that. And then with yourself, be proactive. In taking the time to look after yourself. So take time, go for coffee, set a weekly meeting and say, how am I doing in relation to my plan in our busy lives? We often let things slip and we let it go. So take the time to do that. So number three is be high potential. This might sound really obvious. Of course, I need to be high potential, but actually, it's worth taking the time to really dig in and think, Am I really, am I really stepping up and seen as high potential? This is about how well we're doing our current job, right? And also how well we're seen to be capable to do the next job up. So in order to be promoted in most organizations, we do need to demonstrate high skill in our current job and also a growth mindset, willingness to step up to the next level, willingness to step out of our comfort zone to try new things. Demonstrating this might be that we need to signal that whilst we're experts in our current field, we're also able to lead across other areas because the more senior we get, the more our span of control, our span of influence increases. So, for example, if you've worked in HR all your career and the HR director role is your next role up, but this HR also manages marketing. How will you demonstrate that you can learn how to lead a function that you're not an expert in? Being high potential also focuses on being delivery oriented and demonstrating ownership of both your current role and also your learning journey. Seeing problems, resolving them, demonstrating that you're willing to learn. And linked to this, it's also really knowing what are your key performance indicators and are you ensuring you meet? Or exceed these. So if you have financial targets, how are you doing against them? That of course is not a deal breaker because that can be market dependent or organizationally dependent, but we need to know and be on top of it. There's a slightly tricky part about being high potential. And that is about loyalty. So I don't believe we have to be loyal to organizations and stay there forever. In fact, I think it's actually better for us if we hold that loyalty lightly. But if you're seeking promotion within your current organization, you actually do need to demonstrate loyalty and not be seen as someone who's constantly looking over their shoulder. for alternative options, someone who, if they put the time and effort in to promoting you and developing and training you, they feel like you're going to stay and provide that benefit back to the organization. Now, finally, on being high potential in some organizations, you actually have to prepare a business case for promotion. And I'm happy to say I've successfully helped a number of women prepare theirs. and be promoted. So these are either two roles, like a managing director or a partner role. I think this is a great thing to do. Even if you're not required to do it, prepare a business case, go through it and answer those questions about why am I the person who should be promoted? Even if you never show it to anyone, creating that business case will help you. Now it can take up to a year. To prepare the business case and of course to provide the examples and evidence that's needed to go into it. So take time, start early, create a robust case for your promotion. Number four is about being trustworthy. There's something about being seen to be a team player that's really important. Now we We all know you'll be able to think of people who haven't been particularly team players, but who have risen through the ranks. But I think it's actually good for us to think about how we do this well. How do we help others in our own drive for ambition? So if we're ambition, if we're ambitious, how are we bringing others up? And some of this might just be about being transparent. With the appropriate people, of course, about what you want to achieve. So you're not seen to be doing it behind people's backs. It's about building really good, deep, long term relationships with people in the organization, taking time to do that. building your network, being somebody who is honest and trustworthy, somebody who does what they say they're going to do, and somebody who people know is not talking about them behind their backs. And so much of this really sits on high quality. authentic relationships. So take time to understand people, take time to find out what matters to them, see how you can help them reach their goals so that you're seen as someone who's supporting the growth of others and supporting the organizational goals. And finally, number five, this is really about emotional intelligence. It's about develop and grow your leadership potential, your leadership ability, but really focus on your emotional intelligence because the more senior you get, The more critical it is, if you think about senior people in your organization, you can probably tell me how emotionally intelligent they are. You become more exposed as you get more senior, more people are looking at you and more people are observing how you're behaving. And so we need to work on this. We need to know ourselves really well. We need to deepen our personal resilience and we need to be somebody. Who's on the case about our emotional intelligence. So, it starts by being as self aware as possible. Seek feedback as much as you can take. And when you receive it, thank people even if it stings a bit. And work on the feedback. And if you're not getting enough feedback, go and get some. We know from research that people in minority groups Don't get as much and as concrete feedback as the insider group. And so you may need to go and specifically ask and there's an episode, uh, episode 40, which has got a lot more information on how to go and get the feedback you need. Part of emotional intelligence is also knowing what your personal brand is. It's knowing what people are saying about you when you're not in the room and knowing what you want it to be and how you influence that. So thinking about that, particularly as you work through the other four points, is also really important. How do you build your brand? How do you make sure that you are aligned with your brand? How do you use your self awareness? of your, of how you are and how you're impacting people to know what that brand is. There's something else that we all need to engage in, and I've talked about it already briefly, and that is workplace politics, and thinking about how we can approach that. in an emotionally intelligent way. All organizations are political. Whether you like it or not, it's a fact. And if you want to progress, you need to become adept and engaging at this ethically. So that means being transparent, seeking win win solutions. And there is a podcast on this and there's a link to it in the show notes, but really deepen your Political savvy, your workplace, political savvy, and use your emotional intelligence to help you with that. And then finally on this part, work on your resilience. As I've said, the more senior you get, the more exposed you are. But also, the more opportunities there are for you to have to dig in and feel and be resilient. Now, this doesn't mean to me that being more senior means we have to work longer hours. I actually don't hold that to be true. But it may be that as we're more senior, we need to be better at focus or better at quickly producing at a high standard. Or able to lead through a crisis and be emotionally resilient through that. And there's so much here, I think, that really matters about resilience. So emotional intelligence and EQ helps us to learn to do this, to manage our mood. We need to learn to know where our derailers are, where our triggers are and doing the work on these, learning to notice them and step back when we're triggered is going to help us to lead well in the organization. So these five points are mine. Be clear about your goals. Be proactive, ensure your high potential, be trustworthy, and develop your leadership ability and emotional intelligence. I'm wondering what else you think would be helpful to you in thinking about your career. After this, if you're keen on promotion, book a time in your diary. to plan your next steps. Create a plan if it's appropriate work with your line manager. Talk to them if you can and be honest or find a mentor or sponsor or many mentors or sponsors. Get all the help you can. Join a peer coaching group. Do whatever you can to get the support you need to help your career to be the success you want it to be.