Dale Dauten: Speaker, Author, Innovation Consultant [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Being Promotable Versus Getting Promoted

Dear Kate & Dale:

I've been at my current job for over six years. It's a good job, but it has no obvious avenues for advancement. How does one know when it's time to move on?

-- Russell

Kate: Here's what you should ask yourself, Russell: Are you (a) gaining new skills that increase your marketability, while (b) getting closer to your long-term goals? If not, you must either improve your present position or else move on.

Dale: The more I learn about human nature as applied to employment, the more I've come to think, "When in doubt, get yourself out." We are genetically programmed to belong to clans, and our instinctive loyalty often causes us to stay too long. Don't be content, Russell, with a "good" job -- find yourself a great one that you never want to leave.

Kate: I have, however, worked with many clients who passed through good jobs to get to great ones. That takes us to the big issue of promotions. Let's bring in a related question, then analyze both...

Dear Kate & Dale:

I'm very ambitious and I'm killing myself in my job. But I'm starting to doubt when, if ever, I'll get promoted. Thoughts?

Kate: There is a HUGE difference between being "promotable" and actually being promoted.

Dale: We all know people who have the qualifications to move up, but who just... never... do. Why? From her years of working as a career counselor, Kate put together a list of promotion issues, which I adapted into...


(150 points possible)

1. Are you READY? If...

  • Your next career move makes sense to you: +10 (If it doesn't seem logical to you, it probably won't to anyone else, either.)
  • You have analyzed the jobs at the next level and have gotten the necessary skills (management, finance, etc.): +15
  • You have a record of success:
    • +0 (All good employees have such a record.)
    • You are considered a "star": +20
    • You are active in your industry: +10

2. Are your INCLUDED? If you are...

  • Assigned to represent your department on important projects and task forces outside your department: +10
  • Invited to meetings where your other peers are excluded: +15
  • Given critical responsibilities, including tasks for which your boss is responsible: +20
3. Are you ACCEPTABLE? If you...
  • Get along well with your peers: +10 (Those who are disliked rarely become the boss because the danger of subsequent resignations is too great.)
  • Like your boss: +20 (If you don't like your boss, chances are he/she doesn't like you and will undermine your chances, even if leaving.)
  • Have ever undermined your boss: -100 (You don't necessarily have to be a total "team player" to get promoted, but if you have any history of being anti-team, then your advancement is doomed.)
  • Are known to, and accepted by, your boss's peers: +20 (Few promotions are made without some involvement from the company power structure. While being disliked leads to being "blackballed," being unknown is also a problem -- power structures don't like unknown quantities.)

Kate: For those of you keeping score, as you approach the maximum 150 points, you know you are doing all you can to make yourself "promotable." The next questions assess the likelihood that you'll actually be promoted....

4. Are you in the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME?

  • Is your company doing well? Even if you have a high Promotability Index, a stagnant company doesn't produce many openings, and is reluctant to incur the expense of creating them.
  • Is your boss going somewhere? Bosses can pull you along in your advancement, or sit there as giant roadblocks.
  • Have you trained your replacement? An organization doesn't want to create a "hole" in the organization chart. Not only should your promotion be logical, but so should the one that will fill the "hole" left by your promotion.

Dale: These issues make clear that moving up is much more than a reward for doing a good job. A promotion is the intersection of your future with that of the organization.



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