How to get promoted at work

It takes more than just being good at your job to be singled out for promotion. Here are the things you need to do - and the things you definitely shouldn't - to get noticed and rise to the top.

By Karyn Henger
It takes more than just being good at your job to be singled out for promotion at work.
We could all be forgiven for thinking that being good at your job is enough to get you promoted, or that if you've been in the job long enough, eventually you'll be made boss. But talent and/or time on the shop floor only takes you so far. What gets you to the top is a combination of qualities that include a strong work ethic, the ability to read and understand people and great communication skills, says leadership coach Gail Schrader. "It all comes back to respectful behaviour that engenders trust in the people that work with you."
Schrader spends her days going into corporations and mentoring leadership teams to help them bring out the best in their teams, so we asked her to talk us through how to make sure you get noticed at work in all the right ways – so that promotion does come your way. Schrader gives this advice:

Always deliver quality

"Delivering quality of work is key - on time and of the best quality. That clicks in to so many things around reliability."

Don’t be late

Showing up late for work and, in particular, showing up late for meetings as well as being under-prepared or continually checking your device during a meeting: all of these things show a lack of commitment and a lack of respect for the others, who have turned up on time and are prepared and engaged with the task at hand.

Be a team player

As the saying goes, there's no 'i' in team.
Schrader says, "A team player thinks of others as well as themselves. They're aligned to the company in terms of values. They are accountable for self and others, and if they've made a mistake they're able to put their hand up and say 'that was my mistake'.
"This nurtures trust and respect. People within the team but also your managers get a sense of your authenticity and commitment to be the best that you can be."

Don’t call in sick when you’re not

A no-brainer, really.

Do what you’ll say you’ll do

Explains Schrader, "If you've said 'I'll get something to you by such-and-such a time', then that's what you do unless there's an act of God that makes it impossible. If you are not able to deliver then giving a heads up early is important. People take you at your word, and often a number of people will be relying on you to deliver your part of the project – so ownership is key."

Play devil's advocate carefully

"One of the things that I notice in meetings is that sometimes you'll have the person who calls themselves the 'devil's advocate'," Schrader says.
"This is important if the intention is positive however it can also derail a meeting.
"If you have an opposing or different viewpoint, how you table this is important so it is not seen as criticism or derailment but as another perspective to add to the mix. You could say something like 'I've just been thinking about such-and-such and how this might impact on this or that' or 'This is just a half thought or a quarter thought' and offer it to the group. You are not attached to it and the others in the group can hear it in a more unconditional way.

Look on the bright side

Talk about what is right, not what is wrong - in other words, be the glass-half-full, not the glass-half-empty type, says Schrader.
"If you're looking at promotion this has a very significant impact because you want to be known as a person who can hold all sides of an opportunity or a problem, so looking for the gems in any situation is important. Leaders and colleagues respond positively to this and it encourages people to think with innovative, creativity and courage."

Listen actively

Listening actively and learning how to unpack what a person is saying is a key skill and reduses the margin for error, Schrader advises.
"We are all familiar with situations where we "hear" something from our own perspective only to realise later that the person wasn't coming from the place we thought they were.
"Another thing to bear in mind is that talking over others or not allowing them to finish their sentences sends the wrong message and in the process doesn't enable clarification and understanding."

Transparent and open communication is key

"I've just finished working within a company where quite a new manager had come into a role," says Schrader.
"In their previous role they hadn't needed to share at the same level that their new team had been used to.
"The leader quickly learned that in a small team and inclusive environment a different level of communication was needed to get the result they wanted. It's important to ensure that what you are communicating is being understood in the way that you want it to be, and that the team feels the intention of inclusive leadership, rather than directive leadership."

EQ or IQ?

The people that get singled out for promotionoften have a good balance of EQ (emotional intelligence) and IQ, Schrader sums up.
"You need to have a good level of self-awareness and then awareness of others as well; the ability to be able to cross the bridge and stand in someone else's shoes is really important so that you can get a sense of how it is for them and come from a place of openness rather than judgement. These are some of the skills that often need developing in leadership roles, and all of the above relates to all of our lives not just within the workplace."
  • undefined: Karyn Henger