Everyone knows that performance and maintaining current skills are important to career advancement. There are no substitutes for delivering great work and keeping your abilities up to date, but there are additional techniques that you can use to drive your career forward. These techniques can help you to better leverage your efforts and put your career on a faster trajectory.
Build Systematic Evidence of Promotion Readiness
Every organization has a vested interest in its employee’s growth and advancement. Developing existing employees and moving them into increasingly responsible roles is the best return a company can realize on its people investments. To support this strategy, most companies will publish the expectations that it has for the positions that make up the workforce. Typical documents include job descriptions, recruiting notices and specific role objectives. Many companies will even provide detailed role expectation descriptions at specific levels of the internal hierarchy, specifying the increased responsibilities and results expected at each rung of the ladder for a given role or profession.
This kind of information is invaluable to you if you’re seeking to advance in your career. You can use this information to:
- Assess your current performance against the stated expectations for your role.
- Compare your current performance with the expectations of the next role you want to advance into.
- Develop a plan for mastering the components of the next role to use as evidence of your readiness for promotion.
This evidence provides a powerful lever for you in competing for the next step in your career. From a near-term perspective, it also provides an excellent resource for creating your regular performance review documentation.
Use Multiple Mentors
Finding someone you can trust who is both knowledgeable about your company’s business and has developed a lot of career savvy can be a positive catalyst for your advancement. There are countless things you just can’t learn through training or by performing your daily work duties. You need to know who the critical decision makers are within your organization and where the real (often hidden) power centers are. You also need to know how to leverage this knowledge to get things done efficiently in the unique culture of your organization.
Identifying a mentor and meeting regularly with this person is one of the most important things you can do for your career advancement. You can supercharge the benefits by setting up relationships with multiple mentors. Different people bring different perspectives on the business, the company culture and the best approaches to getting things done within the organization. For example, one person might have a great ability to navigate the influence paths between departments, another might be well-connected with senior leadership, and yet another may have insight into the specific career path you’re targeting. You’d do well to leverage relationships with many of these people and take advantage of their knowledge and experience.
Build Support Among Company Leadership
Carefully crafted career plans are often stalled or even sidelined by lack of visibility or support from leadership. Getting promoted or being selected for premium projects means your efforts must be noticed by the people in your leadership chain. It’s possible to spend months and even years delivering excellent work only to be minimally rewarded and recognized because you and your direct manager are the only people that are aware of what you’ve accomplished.
People that get selected for advancement within an organization have either been noticed by chance or have carefully ensured that their contributions are widely known among leadership. The latter path is always a better choice. Advancing in your career requires that your manager, managers of other departments within your organization and the management levels above them have seen evidence of your abilities and contributions and have formed a positive perception of you. You can consider this a sort of internal campaign that you’ve embarked on with the goal of winning the next position that you’ve targeted. Setting up recurring “sync” sessions with these people is an effective strategy to build this kind of awareness. You'll need to be careful that you don’t waste anyone’s time and that you come to these sessions with meaningful agendas. You’ll also want to make sure that you limit the frequency of these meetings so that you don’t suffer from over-exposure. Meeting weekly with your immediate manager, monthly with your manager’s peers and quarterly with senior leadership is appropriate.
Your knowledge and abilities can take you far in your career. Leveraging the other techniques in this article will help you to accelerate your career advancement.