In our careers few things feel as good or mean as much as getting a promotion. We're not talking about a better title - we're talking about different responsibilities, managing staff, and making more money. We love when it happens, but it doesn't seem to happen often enough. Why? What is the secret formula for getting promoted? There's no secret formula, just basic criteria. Most of us don't understand the criteria most managers use to move people up the ladder.
1) The Right Priorities - Sometimes it's easy to let our focus become so narrow that all we see is our own task, and we ignore all the other pieces of the process. This habit will cost you at promotion and review time. Managers have very specific priorities. They want the work to come in well done, on time, and under budget. But there are two priorities even above that: keep customers happy, and keep the team working at its best. If you can keep the customer service component and the team component in the forefront, you'll be positioning yourself well for good reviews and possible promotion. Be an asset to your team by exhibiting a good mood, a can-do attitude, and a willingness to help.
2) Prove You Can Do More - Most good management teams try to maximize the efforts of those on their staff, and leave you very little time for going the extra mile. How do you show you can do more, when you're barely keeping your head above water? You need to stop drowning and make your time more effective. Reach out to team members whenever it's reasonable, and look for any time-saving or streamlining techniques they're using. Streamline your own process wherever possible. Read articles and books about your industry. Attend seminars out of your own pocket if you can. The more you know about your industry beyond your own level, the better you'll be at seeing the big picture. As you learn more, help your team members do a great job. When management sees that you're the "go to" guy who can fix anything, they'll start grooming you for the next level.
3) Excel In Your Current Position - This is one of the most overlooked steps toward advancement. If you are so focused on being in the executive suite that you think your own work is beneath you, you've missed the boat. Managers want you to make their job easier by doing your job well. If you can do it well, but only do it well sometimes, this is a big red flag for your manager. The ability to motivate and manage yourself shows your boss you have focus and discipline. Do your job well, and do it with a great attitude.
These three steps will help you move up the ladder. Remember, your team is an important part of the process. If you get along with and motivate your colleagues, you'll increase the odds of being promoted to being their boss.