There is a huge misconception around how promotions work in our economy.
For the most part, people assume that promotions are the result of time. The more time you spend at a company, the more likely you are to get promoted.
But the truth is, you don’t get promoted for attendance.
You get promoted for impact
As my mother used to say about practicing the piano, “I don’t care if you practice for ten minutes or ten hours, as long as you get it right.”
Any boss, manager, or decision-maker does not base their decisions off whether to promote you or increase your pay based on how long you’ve been at the company. That might be a variable in the pie, but it’s absolutely not the defining factor.
Instead, here’s what they look for:
1. How often do you move the needle — and by how much?
Promotions really aren’t pay increases.
They are the “green light” for you to take on more responsibility. More responsibility (as many seem to interpret it) does not mean that you get to boss people around. More responsibility means that when things go wrong, you’re the one at fault — and responsible for fixing it.
Receiving a promotion is like getting called up from the minor leagues to the major leagues. If you don’t perform, you’re gone. If you cost the team a win, you’re gone. Promotions are based on results.
Which means, if you want a promotion, all you really have to do is show your value. Every company has measures for success. How much do you impact those measures? And I don’t mean, “I was in the room when it happened.” You didn’t actually do anything. I mean, did you put the deal together? Did you land the client? Did you own a huge portion of the project? Did you succeed?
People who move the needle and help the team reach those measures for success, faster and more effectively, get promoted.
2. In achieving your measures for success, what was your attitude?
Contrary to popular belief, being good at what you do is only half the equation.
The other half is how you do what you do, and how you make others feel in the process.
Do you lift others up, and help them perform at a higher standard? Or do you tear others down, and negatively impact the morale of the team?
The way you reach your achievements is a huge indicator that decides your fate at any given company.
A company is a team, and one bad apple (no matter how talented) can ruin the overall performance.
3. Will you abuse your leadership privileges once you have them?
And finally, no real leader of a company wants to promote someone to any sort of leadership position that they think will misunderstand or abuse their newfound status.
Being a leader has very little to do with the title you wear, and everything to do with the way you walk your walk. People don’t follow talkers, or false promisers, or big dreamers who lack followthrough. They follow shovelers, brick layers, those who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and show how it’s done — by doing it.
If your aura is that of an entitled employee who feels they deserve a “seat at the table,” you will never get promoted. At least, not to the level you desire. Leaders don’t want more egos seated around them. They want the opposite. They want doers, grinders, strategists, people who make an impact and understand that in order to effectively lead with instructions, you have to first live by those very instructions yourself.
It’s astounding how many people expect to be promoted or given more opportunities simply because they’ve “been there for a long time.”
I have never had that mentality, at any job or on any team I have ever played on. I have always believed in earning your way, and proving your worth through actions and results — and I have climbed every ladder extremely fast.
Stop judging your value based on how many hours or months or years you’ve spent at a job. Instead, ask yourself how you can start moving the needle the same amount as the very person whose position you want to have, yourself.
“I don’t care if it takes you ten minutes or ten hours, just get it right.”
This article first appeared on Medium.