Is a remote promotion possible when you are not working in the home office? Maybe you are not geographically close to the home office or are in a different country? Is the rest of your team in the office? Are you wondering if you will be skipped over if you are not getting face time with your VP? There is a long-standing myth that you can’t or won’t be promoted if you aren’t working in the “home office. Don’t worry. I think I have a solution.
First, let’s review the root of this belief/myth. These beliefs originated from truths that originated from corporate America, circa the 1980s and before. This is 50+years ago. Before COVID (BC), if you started your career in a satellite office, the home office may be located half a country away. When you were identified as a HiPo (High Performer or High-Potential Employee), you hoped you would get a call asking you to relocate back to Home Office, AKA “mother ship.”
High Potentials back in the day
As a High Potential, the company wanted to groom you to greatness and give you exposure to the big leagues. Working at the Home Office, you would be exposed to senior execs and a larger arena. When you got this call, you picked up your family and relocated for a year or two. If you declined, you could consider your career done, over, buried 6 feet under. So naturally, you moved the spouse, kids, and Fido.
Worked for a single employer
Remember, this was a time when our parents worked for a single employer most of their lives. Folks didn’t change jobs every 18 months as we do in the tech space. They found a company and suffered through it,. . . I mean – they stuck it out.
Depending on the size of the company, you could be asked to go overseas because that is where the home office was located. Don’t speak the language? You would learn. This was a time before video conferencing and Zoom calls were second nature. This was a time when in-person face time was a requirement. Full Stop. This was a time before video conferencing.
Fast forward 50 years
Most of us are working remotely. For many companies, how we work and where we work has changed drastically. Even if the rest of your team is working in the office with your VP, don’t worry. You can still land a remote promotion. Times are playing in your favor.
The first rule in a post-COVID world:
Remember, most employees are remote. In a post-COVID world, very few employees are receiving in-person, face time with their manager. The playing field is even with so many remote employees.
How do you get promoted if you aren’t working in the home office?
There are three things we need to take into consideration:
- Understand that less than 1% of the employees are conducting in-person, one-on-one’s with their manager. Our entire company is remote. For 99% of the staff, face time is via Teams and Zoom. So, if you are remote (a different city or a different country,) embrace the fact that you are as “in-person” as much as any other peer communicating via Zoom or Teams. You are on the same playing field as your peers living in the home office city.
- Arrange Zoom time with your manager. It will be up to you to develop a relationship with your manager or VP. Those that are participating in Zoom calls are getting noticed. Those that are keeping a rigorous schedule of weekly updates s are getting noticed. These employees are putting their work in front of their managers. They are not waiting for their managers to ask, “So what are you working on?”
- Show your face during remote calls. 1. If you are just showing up as an avatar on your Zoom calls, you are not getting recognized. 2. In addition, most managers are wondering, “WTF is going on here not showing your face?” Remember, most managers grew up in a different era. They grew up on face-to-face watercooler talk. For some managers, going remote and only communicating over Zoom is a big change. The older the manager, the bigger the change. They may not be ready to hear you and not see you.
Get Proactive About Your Career
If you are working remotely and not able to arrange a face-to-face time with your manager, don’t worry. Your peers are probably not meeting in person either, and there is an easy fix. Even employees working in the office with their manager are probably not meeting with their manager on a regular basis.
Set up a recurring one-on-one with your manager. Prior to COVID, I would have suggested at least once a month if you were both working in the same office. In a remote world, I would suggest once a week or every other week if that seems aggressive. Just explain to your manager the following:
The pitch to your manager
Mary Manager, I want to keep you up to date on what I am working on so that you can have confidence I am working on the right projects. I would like just 30 minutes of your time so that we can stay in touch. I would like to share the following:
- What I am going to do in the upcoming week(s)
- What I committed to doing last week
- What I accomplished the last week
“Mary Manager, ultimately, I want to make you look good.”
You should also incorporate a written communication with the above. I like to give my manager a heads up on what I accomplished and what I am working on prior to our meeting. This way, if the meeting gets canceled, they know what I am working on. I save all of these emails and my manager’s response so that when I write my review, I have a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. Here is a recent post on Managing your Manager.
You can also use this meeting to proactively bring up career goals. In the same way, you are making progress on assigned work, you can do the same for career goals. Have a conversation with your manager about where you want to go and what you think it will need to qualify. Once you and your manager agree to skills, competencies, and timelines, you can keep your manager updated on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Remember, this cadence of interactions is probably more consistent and purposeful than 95% of employees had when everyone was working in the office. Take control of your career. Remember, it’s not your manager’s career, it is your career.
See you at the after party
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, ridiculously good, tricky, and manipulative but with the result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone good at something. “He has a nasty forkball.”
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