Be Promotable

Insider secrets for moving up in your company

(Illustration by Richard Borge)

A mere 7% of the employee population received job promotions in 2010, reports the global human resources association WorldAtWork in its Promotional Guidelines survey.  According to the latest Work and Education Gallup poll, 26% of employees surveyed are dissatisfied with their chances for receiving a job promotion.

“In the wake of massive layoffs, pay cuts, pay freezes, and corporate restructuring, no one is handing out promotions. Anything you get will be because you took the responsibility to make it happen,” says Patty Azzarello, CEO of the management consulting firm Azzarello Group and author of RISE: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life (Ten Speed Press; $15.99).

But simply delivering good work won’t be enough, she warns: “Professionals will have to do more, be more, and look better to move up in their organizations.” The former vice president and general manager of HP OpenView at Hewlett-Packard contends that employees with the greatest career mobility are those who manage several factors connected to work, but extend beyond any particular job, such as adding value to the business, and winning the attention and trust of senior managers. Here are her four strategies for moving your career forward:

Be less busy. “Successful people don’t do everything,” says Azzarello, explaining that employees entirely consumed with the non-impactful aspects of their current job don’t have time or energy to do the things necessary to get a bigger or better one. Do less of the work that duplicates what your team does—it’s not your job anymore—and delegate more so you can focus on higher-value work, she suggests. Select two or three tasks that will yield the greatest business outcomes and make them “ruthless priorities.” Focus on completing these critical tasks above all else. Implement processes and procedures to automate or delegate less critical tasks so you don’t put the ruthless priorities at risk.

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