In the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg points out that a key difference between men and women in the workplace is that men approach professional advancement based on their potential, while women approach it as something that is earned. This difference in thinking may lead us to hold back from pursuing a promotion until we believe we’ve already demonstrated all the qualifications.
So how can we go for it, knowing that for many of our male counterparts, advancement is their #1 priority?
- Start early. Promotions take time. Depending on the size of your organization, it can take over a year to achieve the green light; and sometimes, various committees may automatically reject the first time; only to approve a year later.
- Figure out how it works. Talk to people who have been recently promoted. What is the process? What is the criteria? What are the unwritten rules? Is there a calendar and how many different individuals impact the decision?
- Know what you want. Once you have planted the seed with your boss, be prepared to explain why you are looking for a promotion. Is it that you want more vacation days? More money? A better title? A team of reports? A new challenging project? Not all promotions come all with the attributes listed above. And it can also be possible to receive the benefits you are looking for without the official promotion!
- Make a case with confidence. Having a clear-cut case in writing shows you mean business and that you’ve given it a lot of thought. Frame the case into how promoting you will help them. And when you put forward a case that gives them no reason to say “no”, you have the upper hand. Check out the WMB Promotion Proposal Worksheet. This step-by-step guide will help you show why you deserve to advance.
Please remember that you have great potential and all they can say is “no,” or in kinder words, “You aren’t ready yet.” You have nothing to lose so be fearless!
Looking for more career advice? Check out the US News & World Report Careers Page, including, 8 Ways to Build a Professional Reputation of Excellence Starting Today.