If you’ve been working your tail off at your job and are annoyed that you haven’t been promoted yet, you may be one of the following types of people:
1) THE SPECIALIST
You are really great at your job and it’s your secret sauce. It’s frightening when you call in sick. You made yourself too valuable in your position and it would be dumb of your company to move you anywhere else.
2) THE LONE RANGER
You are a hard worker, but you keep your head down and you keep to yourself. No one per se dislikes you (that you know of), but no one really knows you or wants to hang out with you either.
3) THE HIGHLY SELECTIVE
You work hard and actually play with a few people in the office, but only the ones you like and only the ones that happen to be just like, uh, you.
4) THE TYPE A
You are a hard-working, highly intelligent person. You like to be the best of the best and like to prove it. This sets you apart from others and has you appear somewhat aloof, a fact you think you can live with.
5) THE OVERLY NICE
You are a hard worker and overly nice to everyone at the office, letting people walk all over you. Though you may secretly whine, you put on a nice front and don’t say a thing, even when someone takes credit for your work.
At Handel Group, brace yourself, we always think it’s YOU. You are being a certain type of hard worker (choose from list above) which is keeping you from being promoted. Don’t worry, you can fix you and I’m going to show you how.
If you want change, change something.
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This shouldn’t be a surprise to you but the people who are getting promoted at work are actually the ones who are good at politics. Did you just roll your eyes and/or think what I really said was … the ones who are kissing ass? No, I’m not saying that. The last thing I’d ever tell you to do was lie, manipulate and sell out. Possibly for you (and many), “politics” and “politicking” means something dishonest and fake. No. Politics is just another word for interaction and people being together and dealing with each other.
Trust me, you are already politicking right now, you just aren’t aware of it. People think they don’t play politics. There is no such thing as no politics. We’re always politicking. And everyone has their own brand. Your brand might be that you don’t do politics which, by the way, is actually a popular brand. That’s the first thing you need to face. Politicking is everywhere, whether you like it or not. And with politics you are either good at it or bad at it. Usually the people who are bad at it think they’re not even doing it, and they are mad at the people who do it well.
If you are now sitting there reading this with your arms crossed, thinking, I hate politics! I’m a good worker. Isn’t that enough? Why do I have to deal with these people? Honestly, I don’t even like most of them. Except, what if all that judging, rolling your eyes and avoiding is actually your version of politics?
And, sadly, your current passive political strategy is getting you exactly what you have right now: no promotion.
Politics is not a four-letter word. Stop thinking it’s a bad thing. Politics are just human dynamics. Have fun politicking. Start making it about relationships and building your own brand of politics. Create a game plan for yourself on how you are going to be in the office. Care about everyone. Make everyone around you look good, not just yourself. Be coachable, easy to work with and someone people trust. And most importantly, start developing deeper relationships with people at work – those above you, below you, and your colleagues.
Your Strategy: Developing Deeper Relationships
1) Make a list of the people you should be in relationship with and who can help you forward your dreams.
2) Make a promise that every week you are going to have breakfast/lunch with two new people, one inside your company, and one outside. Knowing people outside of your organization is important, because if something does end up changing with your position, it’s that much easier to get a new job if you already have great relationships with people outside of your company.
3) Tell someone about your new weekly promises, whether it’s your spouse or your best friend. Just make sure it’s someone who will, without fail, hold you accountable and ask you, for example, how breakfast with your CEO went.
4) Pay it forward and help someone below you. There’s nothing better than mentoring and caring about someone who, one day, maybe 10 years from now, will become someone you’d really want to know and, for all you know, could end up helping you.
5) Have fun. Building your network is healthy and enjoyable politics.
Now that you understand the art of politicking, it’s time to understand the art of speaking up at work. If you don’t tell anyone what you want (i.e. a promotion), no one is going to speak up for you.
It’s easy for me to coach you on this because I was passed over for a promotion once for this exact reason and I vowed it would never happen again. I was in my early 20’s and I was getting trained to lead workshops. At the end of one of my training programs, the person responsible for the program stood in front of all 50-plus of us trainees, and said, “Okay, who thinks they are ready to lead workshops? Who wants me to pass and certify you to be a workshop leader right now?”
I sat in my seat and said to myself, I don’t need to raise my hand. They already know I should be a workshop leader. And, I proceeded to not raise my hand. Guess what? Everybody who raised their hand became workshop leaders. And, even as that all went down, I still sat there thinking that he was going to come over to me later and tell me I’m a workshop leader.
At the end of the training, he did come over to me, but not to dub me, but rather to ask me, a bit dumbfounded, why I didn’t raise my hand. Good question. And, well, since it would be another six months before I’d be asked if I want to lead workshops again, I certainly had time to think about it.
Do you think I’d ever stay comfortably dumb again or that I’d ever again presume someone other than myself should be responsible for my dream and not see my own cowardice in the waiting for him to just know?
It’s important for you to be upfront about what you want in your career. It’s not about lying or manipulating. When you tell people about your dreams, you give them a chance to help you fulfill them. Tell your boss you want a promotion. Tell the CEO. Tell the people who can help you advance. Tell the truth about it, and let them contribute to you. Ask them what you need to do or develop to get the promotion? How long will it take? Have them support you with it. That way, when they are in a meeting wondering whom they should put in charge of the new division, your name will come up.
The Wrap Up
I want you to get a promotion this year, but you are not going to do it by simply working hard with your head down. You are going to have to stick your neck out for it, develop relationships, care, speak up, and have your actions match your dream. Remember, politics is just people interacting. If you want to really rock your career this year, start cultivating relationships, raising your hand and asking for what you want.
Hi. It’s YOUR dream. Who else should make it come true?