I recently heard a colleague talk about his promotion to Technical Manager. While the title was good, the pay hike was $15,000 annually, and she now makes $110,000. Not too bad!
Over the years, I’ve had many discussions with talented managers regarding what it takes to excel in an organization, and I’m providing 6 of the strategies I learned:
#1: Get in the right job.
I understand you can earn a promotion in the wrong job, but that is hardly any fun. Make sure you decide the kind of work you want to do, which means that you select a career. Once you are clear regarding future plans, the promotions will come. You are more energized and happier when you are doing the work that interests you.
#2: Get a healthy level of technical knowledge.
I know several account managers at an IT company who enroll in technical classes, such as Security+, Python, and Apache. The goal here is to improve their technical knowledge. By doing so, they can understand the geek language and share it with upper management. This skill alone can lead to big results.
#3: Focus only on what you can control.
There are far too many people who make excuses for failing to climb the corporate ladder. To progress, you must accept the organizational politics and learn to move within the culture. My experience shows that if you deliver good work on time and keep a proactive attitude, promotions will come.
#4: Make sure to have the education.
There are many careers that are stifled because a college degree is required for advancement. If this is the case where you work, begin your studies right away. Avoid putting of the decision even a week. You can make calls today to find the right degree for you. If you are pressed for time, consider an online degree. By making this commitment, you will improve skills related to problem solving, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These are the same skills required to earn future promotions.
#5: Seek advice from experienced individuals.
To succeed, you must learn from others. It’s naïve to think that you have the time to learn everything on your own. I recommend befriending someone who has been in the organization for many years. In most cases, these individuals are less-competitive, and they are open to sharing their knowledge. When you meet with these folks, ask questions and take notes. Let me repeat: ask questions and take notes. You are there to learn, not to teach.
#6: Focus on what your boss wants.
It’s too difficult to make everyone happy. The only person that you should work to please is your manager. I recommend meeting with this individual early in the year, and learning the expectations. You want to know how you will be evaluated. Once you have the plan, make it a point to schedule monthly or quarterly meetings with your manager. By taking this approach, you are more likely to hit your targets and make your manager happy.
There is no magic formula that works every time, but the tips noted here have withstood the test of time. To become meaningful, you must have a clear idea regarding your career expectations, and start taking action today to make that future a reality.