Some of you, struggling to find a meaningful work within the context of a meaningful life, get conflicted around the whole subject of promotion. You imagine that, if you signal interest in a bigger job, you’ll have to sacrifice your hard-won soul, even as you begin the selection process. And that’s not something you even want to contemplate.
But you don’t have to.
Just avoid these 7 life-sucking aspects of the promotion game, and see yourself through it with your spirit intact.
Think that promotion, just for itself, is good
Some parts of society may value more senior jobs and all that they stand for. There’s a certain prestige and kudos that comes with big titles. But is that what’s driving you?
When the desire for a promotion comes knocking at your heart, check out its motives. Are you being driven by a hunger that’s in line with your values, talents and beliefs? Or is there something else in you gnawing for recognition?
If it’s the former, fine. If not, seeking promotion is only going to lead to misery. Best you wise up now.
Believe that you’ll be promoted solely on merit
Getting promoted is never just about being good at your current level. You’ll be expected to be able to display skills and behaviors that are valued at the next level up.
Do you know what these are? And, how comfortably do they sit with you?
If they jive with you, or you consider that the conflicts are too small to worry about, all’s good. But square up to the possibility that the next level may demand things of your that will just knock you out.
The key is to confront and have a strategy for these thing before you pitch your promotion application.
Pin your promotion hopes on one senior manager
You may think that getting promoted and being successful next level up is all about having a close allegiance with one powerful or influential manager.
First, in that scenario you give much of your own power to another.
Second, one manager, no matter how influential, is unlikely to be able to make promotion decisions, or create an agreeable experience for you all by themselves. You need to be visible, known, and respected by a wider audience of senior players. More importantly, you need to have a sense of how comfortable, or not, it would be to have these people as your colleagues.
Check that out by finding ways to network with them either before or during a selection process.
Suck up to the decision makers
Yes, you have to be known by those folks who are going to consider your candidacy, but don’t be one of their brown-noses, changing the tune of who you are to suit one then another, imagining that’s what’s required.
Again this gives your power away and puts them in control.
Be true to who you are, even if this means there are some things about you they don’t agree with. Build legitimate sponsorship by connecting with them on points of shared interest and value.
Compete aggressively with your peers
Many organizations set you up to play win-lose games with your peers. As if, to be sure of promotion, you have to go all out to show that you’re better than the next guy.
Avoid this if you want to keep your soul with you.
It doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. And it doesn’t help you build relationships with your peers.
Remember that you may end up leading those who are currently your colleagues. Playing win-lose with them doesn’t set you up to be their trusted leader.
And, if one of your colleagues gets the promotion you’re currently angling for, he or she may well hold against you how you were with them in the run-up.
Put so much store on promotion that you forget life beyond work
Many of the big companies have fairly sophisticated promotion processes, requiring you to jump through all kind of hoops over several months, in addition to running your day job. It’s tempting to go all out, working round the clock to give your self the best chance of success.
But remember that you’re human. Whether you get this promotion or not, life goes on and it needs to be liveable.
You can help yourself with this by being really smart, and focusing on your priorities. Monitor your – or anyone else’s – expectation that you be perfect. Manage your time and your boundaries as assertively as you can.
Think that you need to do the job exactly like the last person
The person before you may have been an avid career-player, following the rules of the system, and putting in all the hours, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
If you’ve managed a promotion process by being true to yourself, living your values, building relationships on trust, and doing all of this in a way that allowed you to remember that there was more to life, you’re in a brilliant position to bring a different kind of leadership to your company.
In the world of work and business, every day brings fresh challenges to your ability to be yourself and give your soul a voice. It so happens that promotion throws up a whole range of them. You may decide, as you travel through this challenging part of your journey that promotion is not for you. But you may find that, if you take things step by step, staying fully conscious at each stage, and allowing yourself choice throughout, that you can be a soulful senior player.
And, God knows, the world needs more of them!