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Job promotion – speak up about your accomplishments or be passed over

job promotion

Keep your manager updated with consistent and predictable performance for the job promotion

Passed over for the job promotion

HRNasty, I know I am a quiet person. I am also smart and I have ideas, but I don’t seem to be getting the opportunities like my loud peers who brag about what they do. Do I have to be a schmoozing douche to get ahead in the corporate world? My colleagues aren’t that smart but they keep getting all the job promotions.  Sincerely, Quiet Performer

A good friend emailed me the above question and a great conversation over coffee followed. The topic of job promotion and opportunity is a topic that is asked of me on a fairly regular basis in one form or another and I thought it would be helpful to share here. Generally speaking, the person asking the question falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Manager that wants a job promotion
  • Has parents that are not from America
  • Female
  • The quiet, shy and introverted from any nationality and of any gender

My upbringing is the opposite of what is needed in Corporate America

The above is overgeneralizing and racist. At the risk of turning the reader off, I REALLY want to drive the above point home. My parents are not from America. Outside of work, I am quiet, shy and introverted. I was raised with the value that I should not let anyone know that my personal situation is better or worse than theirs. Bragging about my accomplishments or calling attention to my worries is not in my bag of tricks. The common element that I could have pointed out without being a racist would have been simply:

Like it or not, if you don’t speak up, talk about your accomplishments, or market yourself, you will be passed over for any job promotion

It’s not just women and minorities 

Exponentially, the above-bulleted groups will speak up on their behalf much less often than their majority counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, a very good male Caucasian friend who has a CPA and an MBA is one of the best smartest Controllers I know. Prior to meeting me, he never asked for a raise. He literally said if he wasn’t getting paid what he thought he was worth, he quit. The point is that he assumed that good, solid work would get him recognized. Yes, HRNasty had a bit of a rant. I also know a woman who is the General Counsel for a company that knows how to make her accomplishments and opinions heard and she doesn’t come across as a bitch.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

What brings opportunity

So the next couple of posts are all about how to keep your manager updated on your accomplishments without sounding like a douche or a braggart. With this post, I explain why it is so important that we are pro-active when it comes to updating our manager regarding accomplishments. In Corporate America few things will bring you more opportunity than the below:

  • Whining like a squeaky wheel (unfortunate but true)
  • Prior success
  • Letting your manager know you want more opportunity or more money

We don’t want to be the Squeaky Wheel

Our Quiet Performer doesn’t want to take the squeaky wheel route because it has the aftertaste of douche bag mixed with the aroma of ass. Prior success? WTF HRNasty? This brings us to the original “chicken or egg” question. “How do I gain prior success if I don’t get the opportunity to be successful?” Culturally, our quiet performer isn’t going to come out and ask his manager for more money or new opportunities. He knows he should and will work on the skill of self-promotion, but that doesn’t help him in the here and now. What’s a quiet performer to do if they want a job promotion?

Simple. Update your manager on a regular basis. Let your manager know what you are working on, what you accomplished, what you learned and what you want to learn more about. Make your updates routine and consistent and accomplishments become updates and not-self centered bragging sessions. They are not once a year announcements within the self-evaluation prior to the yearly review. Remain top of mind with your manager and when the opportunity comes up, your name will be in the hat.

Updating your manager is NOT bragging

I talk with a lot of employees and it surprises me that so many of us are under the impression that giving an update to their manager is bragging, or that the manager should know what they are doing. Trust me, if you fall into the Quiet Performer category, you are physically not able to brag. Whatever you say and however you say it won’t sound like braggadocio in your wildest dreams. Your manager has heard worse and what you do could not be considered bragging. When you speak, it is probably just a whisper compared to your douche bag counterpart. Instead of looking at the accomplishments and lessons learned as braggadocio, look at these updates as a service you provide your manager. These updates:

  • Reinforce that you care about your job and your responsibilities.
  • Can be the perfect opportunity to explain what you have learned and how you will approach challenging problems differently in the future.
  • Are a way you can keep your manager updated on the functions/projects you are responsible for.

We shared accomplishments in the interview

All of the above are updates your manager WANTS to hear about. Think about updates as a way of building your resume for your next job promotion or opportunity. 

When we applied and interviewed for our current position, we came prepared with a resume and it was EXPECTED that we talk about our accomplishments. There is a difference between landing a job via the interview process and getting a job promotion.

As a candidate for the interview, the hiring manager asked us questions and we shared our prior accomplishments. The candidate that is best able to present their prior accomplishments as a fit for the job requirements is usually the one that gets the job. (We obviously worry about the dress, manners, etc., but you get the idea.)

How TF did Johnny get promoted?

As a candidate for a job promotion, the hiring manager is NOT always asking or prompting us for our prior accomplishments. Often times, we don’t even learn about a potential job promotion until we hear the announcement that the position has already been filled. Your manager announces that “Johnny is the new Director of Customer Service” and we are left wondering WTF happened? We didn’t know there was an opening and we are more qualified than the guy that is moving to the bigger office? Life isn’t fair! 

It is assumed that our managers know what we accomplished and will pick the most qualified candidate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. You may be thinking that it should be obvious to your manager that you care and want to learn, but frankly, they have plenty of other things to worry about including the Squeaky Wheel, the guy with prior success and the one that is straight up asking for the new opportunity. Did I mention they have their own career to worry about?

Where your manager looks for candidates to promote

If your manager is in the market to hire a position they will look to a couple of sources in roughly the following order: 

  1. Their own team: Based on what they know about individual performance if they have someone who is qualified, that individual will be promoted. 
  2. Managers at the same level who are managing teams working in similar roles: Other managers will make a recommendation based on what they know about the qualifications and performance within their teams.
  3. Request employee files from HR. If there is no evidence of accomplishments in the file, then we can’t blame the manager for not picking us.

Keep top of mind and engaged with your manager

This is why we need to remind the manager of what we have accomplished and learned on a regular basis. We want to make it easy for the hiring manager to keep a written record of what we have accomplished. We want to make it easy for us to be kept the top of mind in case our manager is asked for a potential candidate. 

Requisite dating example

Let’s say you are a single in the year 2016, attractive and fun. Like most of your peers you are on the various dating sites, your pipeline is full and you are hanging out with a number eligible shorties. Of course, you are not committed to any individual. In particular, assume they are dating others and attracted to all. You love the outdoors and love to go fly fishing.

You happen to be hanging out with 3 different potentials. In no particular order:

Engaged

Always tells you how much fun she is having with you and how much she appreciates learning about fly fishing. Always texts and lets you know that she is looking forward to the next shared adventure. Shares with you that she is taking a cooking class and wants to bring meals for the next trip.

Big talker and a nag

Is a city girl who is always saying she wants to learn how to fly fish but doesn’t take any steps to learn. Isn’t watching YouTube videos and hasn’t heard of Brad Pitt in a River Runs Through it. She is always complaining that you don’t take her fishing and are spending more time with the fellah’s than her.

Politically correct but lacks initiative

Is a great girl, but she rarely has an opinion. We are confident she is having a great time, otherwise, she would find someone else. If you ask her what she wants to do, she says “Whatever you want to do”. She is a great date. Polite, say thank you, always well dressed and presentable, will never embarrass you but is just not very outgoing. She is easy to hang out with and never raises a fuss.

Guess who is going fishing? Yeah, bachelorette number 1. She provides feedback, is appreciative of the learning, and bringing something to the table to add to the experience. Are you feeling me? Your manager is not a mind reader and we need to keep them informed. 

Next week, I lay out a couple of examples of what the conversation sounds like and the level of detail we should bring to the table so we can keep top of mind and keep our name in the hat of opportunity.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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