The New Year Promotion Plan

Position yourself for a promotion by following these four simple strategies.

Unfortunately, as the days get shorter and holiday madness sets in, it’s easy to let your bright-eyed and bushy-tailed attitude toward work fade away. But there’s one sure-fire way to keep yourself on-track and focused on your career during the holidays: Start planning for a promotion in the New Year.

Dress the part

You may have heard that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have, and this is particularly important once you’ve set your promotion plan in motion. While you’re probably dressing appropriately for your current role, the position you want might require you to make some adjustments.

If your office has a policy of dressing down on Fridays, and this is something you and your co-workers look forward to, take a look at what management is doing. If your superiors don’t dress down on Fridays, you should probably abandon casual Friday, too. The visual assurance that you’ve picked up on, and are willing to adhere to, will go a long way toward management feeling confident you’re ready to become a part of their team.

Speak up

A pivotal way to impress your superiors is by exhibiting ease in multiple situations. One of the quickest ways to showcase this ease is by speaking up at every opportunity, from your weekly staff get together to meetings with key management personnel.

If you find yourself on the elevator with your CEO a few mornings a week, it’s a great opportunity to get your feet wet in speaking up. Rather than simply standing face-forward staring at the control panel, you should take the opportunity greet him or her. I’m not asking you to be effusive—a simple “good morning,” coupled with a smile, is often enough to start getting noticed.

Initiate appropriate action

I have a client who is a trainee stockbroker at one of Manhattan’s larger firms, as well as a former Marine. One day he was in the men’s room, which was littered with paper towels. He began picking them up. At that moment, one of the directors came in and asked him what he was doing. He said he was picking up paper towels. The director asked why. He said because they were on the floor. The director pointed out that this wasn’t his job. My client agreed, but explained what the Marine Corps had instilled in him: “In the absence of orders, initiate appropriate action.”

Suffice to say this seemingly insignificant display of initiative did a lot to enhance his reputation with those occupying corner offices. Similarly, a show of initiative on your part – in ways both large and seemingly small— is a great way to move up in the ranks.

Lead a team

Few jobs these days are about working in isolation. That’s why your people skills are just as important as any technical skills you might have. Use those skills to demonstrate you have the ability to lead and motivate your co-workers and your superiors will see you as ready to be one of them. I strongly recommend volunteering to head a team project. Or better yet, initiate one of your own. Just be aware that your work as a leader will be silently evaluated just as much as the impact your work might have on the bottom line.

With these four strategies implemented, you’ll be in great shape to ask for a promotion by the New Year.

Go for it

For many of us, the idea of asking outright for what we want or deserve is foreign. But asking for what you want is a must. Not doing so means you’ll be disgruntled, and no one wants an employee with a chip on his shoulder. There are a few first steps to asking for your promotion:

  • Make an explicit appointment to discuss your request
  • Provide concrete examples of how you have contributed to your company’s success
  • Have a specific salary figure and/or title in mind

Also keep in mind there’s a chance you might not get what you want. And “no” is typically just information– not a reflection on your value to the business. In fact, it’s more likely a reflection on the history of the position, or the current balance sheet of the company.

Why is this important? Because making requests with this in mind will help you remain relaxed throughout the conversation. And when you’re at ease, it’s easier to roll with the punches. You’ll convey confidence and humor, essential elements in the negotiation process. And when the balance sheet does look more favorable, your request may still be top of mind.