Six Ways to Demonstrate You’re Promotion-Ready

Bigger titles bring bigger responsibilities. Whether it’s taking on your first management job or joining your first board, every time your title or responsibilities expand, it requires mastering a new level of interpersonal awareness and finesse.

  1. Use upward interactions to show that you can think big picture. When you get their undivided attention (whether in person, by phone or e-mail), you want to use the exposure to show that you see things from their perspective — you think strategically and can help solve their solutions.
  • Outline new strategic initiatives, product ideas or plans to tackle a particularly vexing process challenge.
  • Set expectations and gain feedback on upcoming events that have strategic import; e.g., high-stakes sales meetings, investor calls, key supplier or customer visits, etc.
  • Highlight off-plan performance — both good and bad. When good, you give your boss something to celebrate. When bad, be upfront, know why, and have solutions for improvement.
  1. Match the media to the message. When communicating with your boss, you want to align the media with your message. E-mail works well for good news and simple messages, where closure is easy.
  • Phone works best when simple, but nuanced direct interchange is needed and time is of the essence.
  • Face-to-face is essential for deep thinking, enlightened problem solving, and non-routine interpersonal topics.
  1. Set expectations up front, be clear at the beginning about what you are hoping to accomplish; that is, what information needs to be conveyed, decisions made, or new issues teed up
  2. Translate oral understandings into written follow-up. After a meeting, track every task you’ve agreed to undertake and connect each to a timeframe and deliverable.
  3. Close earlier loops before opening too many new ones. You want to be known as someone who thinks strategically and delivers operationally.
  4. Bring your best thinking to the table every time. If you’re asked to research an idea, or you decide to bring a new idea to the table, don’t wing it.

The roots of excellence lie in planning and using your upward interactions well. With careful thought and clear communications, you can become top-of-mind when the next advancement opportunity arises.

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