Five Steps Away From a Promotion?

Promotion? Older, dog-eat-dog style corporate culture teach you to be ruthless. Always look out for number 1 and you won’t do wrong, they say. Other, a little more mellow corporate gurus would have you network. You’d have to rub shoulders with as many influential people as you can. Do favours or help them in some way, and the next free C-suite seat is yours… Or is it?

Unfortunately, these days, there is no such thing asbehind someone’s back” anymore, what with Twitter and Facebook monitoring your every move. And frankly, so are the days of „know the right people”. These have gone the way of the pyramid organizational structure. From holacracy to a process matrix, the most successful global companies employ a lot less hierarchical structure. All to adopt a more lean, agile business model. So when you advance, you’re not climbing the greasy pole anymore, it’s more of a meandering path of small hops and large sidesteps between departments, processes or roles. Equally, you can’t progress far anymore just because you play a spot of golf with the CFO who „likes the cut of your jib„. These two factors taken together make meteoric rise a thing of the past. So, what do you do then, if neither route works to your advantage anymore? The answer is simple: get promoted, and learn how to get promoted reliably and often.

According to a recent article at, getting the promotion is as simple as showing you want it and proving you can handle it. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than just talking to your supervisor and telling them you are ready for a better position (preferably with a much fatter pay packet). Some will tell you to stay up to date on tech and skills. Others will advise you to be brutally honest and learn how to delegate tasks. Surprisingly, most professionals agree on five main steps that are enough to jump-start your career.

Step 1: Know yourself
Before you decide to move on, you need to ask yourself a few simple questions. Who do your co-workers see when they look at you? How does your boss perceive you? Nine times of 10 it doesn’t really matter how talented or skilled you are. Modern companies can teach any employee pretty much any skill. But why would they, if that person seems lazy and inefficient, or worse, a prima donna, who, albeit extremely talented, doesn’t prove to be a good team player? This investment is unlikely to pay off, as an exceedingly talented person will probably leave as soon as they’re headhunted by someone who pays more, leading to a net loss. Companies grow thanks to people who get along well and work in a team, and the harsh truth is, they prefer to grow their own talent from within. A less versatile, less talented new hire will learn the ropes and later feel obligated to stay with the people who taught them all they know.

So following that logic, it’s always a good idea to show you are a good sport around the office. Help out your team mates with tasks – offer to help even if they don’t advertise they need it. If you aren’t experienced or skilled yet to offer good help, don’t be afraid to show you don’t know how to do something. It’s a well-known theory that people who do favours or help someone are much more likely to also help that person in the future. It will come in handy when you actually need a favour to ask for later on.

But don’t stay a helpless damsel in distress forever, either. Once you learn, make sure your skills or abilities aren’t just exclusive to you. Share your knowledge, spread any new skill or useful tip you get along the way. The most important part here is that you become a positive presence; not merely likeable, but someone who works with a team and for a team, someone who makes the company better.

Goals: Make your colleagues respect you. Don’t be afraid to ask and learn. Make it obvious that you are growing professionally all the time. Foster the culture of sharing knowledge. Be a positive presence in your workspace.

Step 2: Stand out
The second step is a little harder. Now that your team is a well-oiled machine, you actually need to stand out a bit, see if removing the cog that is you from it won’t cause it to sputter to a standstill. Perhaps a short time off? If you’ve promoted the culture of learning and made others teach you things, your co-workers should be able to work with or without you. Your absence, however brief, will be a great test of your dispensability. If you are still essential to your team’s survival, great: your skills and abilities are noticed, you stood out even when you weren’t there. But after a while, it’s even better if you leave and come back unnoticed. Why?

You might think that that’s a bad idea: after all, if your team can work so easily without you, what’s the point of keeping you around at all? However, if you have followed the previous step diligently, you have now become a good colleague and a good worker for the company. Why would the company want to let you go? And if your co-workers show they know how to fill the void, a newcomer, temp or replacement can fit right in and be taught everything they need to know. This will be a great bargaining chip when you’re talking to your boss about a promotion in the future.

Apart from testing the waters, you should make it obvious you’re ready for more duties and responsibilities. Make sure you build on what you started earlier in step 1. Volunteer to take over the activities or duties of other team mates in case they take time off or are sick. Whenever possible, take on more tasks. Proactive approach should be your mantra. And remember: even if you make mistakes, being honest about them and asking others for help is a positive thing. Eventually, mere asking for help becomes delegating. You enlist the help of others much like a manager would. This will ultimately prove you are good candidate for a more responsible position.

Goals: Prepare your team for your absence. Be proactive in seeking greater responsibilities. Take on more duties and don’t be afraid to share the workload by delegating.

Step 3: Show you are interested
This one is a no-brainer, but it still needs to be said. In an interconnected world of social media, you are unlikely to be separated by a corporate ceiling from the boardroom. Ask around about internal promotions, especially within the parallel departments. Though internal recruitment is still a very popular practice, hiring managers confess to asking out informally around the company. Simply asking is a great way to learn about possible openings before going on a full promotion offensive. When checking out what your colleagues know about possible vacancies, don’t forget to probe about who would be an ideal candidate. You’ll quickly find out that a team player like you is a perfect match!

If you’ve done your job right in step 1, you should be not just well-liked, but professionally respected. Try to see who is most positive about you as a person. This will be the co-worker you should later approach for a peer recommendation. This will also be your prime supporter when the boss inquires about your team’s opinion about you. Treat such person with respect, forge a good working relationship with them.

In step 2, you’ve prepared the ground for your possible leave, and you’ve shown you’re hungry for more responsibilities. Should you decide to leave for pastures new, your colleagues will now be able to not just vouch for you, but actively root for your success. On to step 4!

Goals: Check out informally for possible advancement options. Find out if a peer recommendation can be arranged, or that there’s someone on your level can personally vouch for you.

Step 4: Get the boss’s approval
Before you go ahead and make it publicly known you’re looking for a promotion, you should absolutely talk to your boss. In fact, many professionals will actually tell you to start with this step. However, if you haven’t yet mastered the modern workspace and become an easy-going person that likes to learn and craves new challenges (steps 2 and 3), just talking to your boss won’t be enough. And if there are no actual positions to apply for or peers that could vouch for you (step 4), talking to your boss will accomplish nothing.

Luckily, we’re past these steps, so now is the time to go to your supervisor and actually talk. Since you’re no longer perceived as a mindless drone, nor a hated careerist who will turn their back on anyone that helps them, do not be afraid to talk to your boss about leaving. Most of the time, people who look for a promotion have a legitimate reason to do so. You could be fed up with your current tasks or simply wish to grow professionally. Thus, talking to someone above you is a necessary step to take. Worst-case scenario, you learn that you can’t leave: the team still needs you! In such case, go back to step 2 and 3 and make yourself a little more dispensable!

So, you’re now a well-liked and respected person, but not a pillar of the office. No-one will blame you for wanting to move up in the company: you’ve earned it. Best-case scenario and one you’re looking for is getting your boss’s approval. It’s more than just a nod. Your boss can now sign off on any employee reviews, and those are a must in a modern workspace. This also means they’ve received a heads-up about being contacted by HR in near future, so they won’t be unpleasantly surprised. If necessary, remind your boss how well the team managed in your absence (step 2). You can also mention how well you get along with people in your team and how they are rooting for your further career moves within the company (step 1 and 3). Don’t hesitate to name names! The colleague you’ve designated in step 3 as your supporter will give you a glowing recommendation, helping your boss arrive at a decision faster. Finally, make sure your boss understands that it’s not about them losing a great worker, but about a company benefiting from an ambitious team player.

Goals: Talk to your boss about your decision or desire to change tasks, responsibilities or department. Talk to him/her about your plans so they are not surprised by HR. Make sure the boss understands your leaving won’t hurt the team.

Step 5: Make it official
Once you’ve got your boss’s approval and you have your peers’ recommendations, you can actually head out into the great beyond. Many internal recruitments are now done without actual hiring campaigns, only by virtue of people knowing right people for the job. And since you’ve done your homework in step 3, you already know who to get in touch with. Now everything is up to… Still you! Your reputation will precede you, don’t worry. You’ll get that job if you’ve done all the steps right.

And who knows… Maybe one day this new opportunity will take you to such lofty a height, your current boss will become your employee? Good luck!

Goals: Armed with your co-workers and boss’s approval, apply for an internal vacancy and get promoted!.


dog-eat-dog – brutalny, w którym toczy się bezpardonowa walka (tylko przed rzeczownikiem, pot.)
ruthless – bezlitosny
to look out for number 1 – dbać tylko o własny interes
not to do wrong – nie popełnić błędu (robiąc coś)
mellow – łagodny, miękki
sb would have sb do sth – ktoś radzi/zaleca komuś, aby coś zrobił
to rub shoulders with sb – obracać się w czyimś towarzystwie, ocierać się o kogoś
influential – wpływowy
to do (sb) a favour – wyświadczyć komuś przysługę
C-suite – poziom dyrektorski, najwyższe szczeble korporacji
these days – obecnie, w dzisiejszych czasach
there is no such thing as X – nie ma czegoś takiego, jak X
behind sb’s back – za czyimiś plecami
what with X – zważywszy na X (pot.)
to monitor sb’s every move – śledzić każdy czyjś krok
frankly – szczerze mówiąc
to go the way of X – zniknąć wraz z X, odejść do lamusa, tak jak X
holacracy – holakracja
matrix – macierz
to employ – stosować, używać; zatrudniać
to adopt sth – przyjąć coś, zastosować
lean – chudy; bez zbędnych/niepotrzebnych elementów
agile – zręczny; szybko reagujący na zmiany/dostosowujący się
to advance – tu: awansować
to climb the greasy pole – wspinać się po szczeblach kariery (pot.)
meandering – wijący się, kręty
hop – podskok
sidestep – krok w bok
equally – w takim samym stopniu, tak samo
to progress – czynić postępy
a spot of X – odrobina X (pot.)
CFO (chief financial officer) – dyrektor ds. finansowych
to like the cut of sb’s jib – podobać się komuś, wydawać się komuś dobrą osobą (arch., pot.)
meteoric rise – błyskawiczny wzrost
a thing of the past – coś, co należy do przeszłości
route – droga, ścieżka
to work to sb’s advantage – działać na czyjąś korzyść
reliably – pewnie, niezawodnie
to handle sth – poradzić sobie z czymś
supervisor – przełożony
pay packet – płaca, wypłata (pot., UK)
to stay up to date on X – pilnować X na bieżąco, być z X na bieżąco
to delegate sth – oddelegować coś, zlecić
surprisingly – co ciekawsza, co najdziwniejsze
to jump-start sth – nadać czemuś rozpęd, pobudzić coś do działania/rozwoju
to move on – przejść dalej/do czegoś nowego
to perceive – postrzegać, odbierać
inefficient – niewydolny, nieudolny
prima donna – prymadonna
albeit – chociaż, aczkolwiek
to pay off – opłacić się, zwrócić się (o inwestycji)
exceedingly – niezwykle, w ogromnym stopniu
to headhunt sb – tu: skaperować kogoś, przeciągnąć kogoś utalentowanego do siebie (o innej firmie)
net loss – strata netto
to get along well – dogadywać się, być na dobrej stopie
harsh – surowy, ostry
from within – od środka
versatile – wszechstronny
new hire – nowo zatrudniony pracownik
to learn the ropes – nauczyć się podstaw
obligated – zobligowany, zobowiązany
sb is a good sport – ktoś zachowuje się fair, ktoś jest dobrym kolegą
to advertise – reklamować, tu: pokazywać, okazywać coś
to come in handy – przydać się, okazać się pomocnym
to ask for a favour – poprosić o wyświadczenie przysługi
damsel in distress – dama w opałach
exclusive – wyłączny
tip – porada
merely – ledwie, tylko
likeable – lubiany
to foster sth – krzewić coś, zaszczepiać; promować, wspierać coś
to stand out – wyróżniać się, być lepszym
well-oiled machine – dobrze naoliwiona maszyna
cog – trybik, kółko zębate
to sputter to a standstill – zatrzymać się ze zgrzytem (np. o maszynie)
time off – urlop
however – jakkolwiek, jakikolwiek; choć, chociaż (nawet)
brief – krótki
dispensability – zbywalność, zbędność
essential – konieczny, niezbędny
survival – przetrwanie
unnoticed – niedostrzeżony
what’s the point of doing X?- po co robić X?
to keep sb around – zatrudniać kogoś, utrzymywać kogoś (na jakimś stanowisku)
diligently – sumiennie
to let sb go – zwolnić kogoś
to fill the void – zapełnić pustkę
newcomer – nowo przybyły
temp – pracownik tymczasowy
replacement – zastępstwo
to fit in – dopasować się, wpasować się
bargaining chip – karta przetargowa
to test the waters – zbadać grunt/teren
responsibility – odpowiedzialność
to volunteer to do sth – zgłosić się na ochotnika do zrobienia czegoś
to take sth over – przejąć coś
proactive – proaktywny, aktywnie zabiegający o coś
mantra – motto, mantra
mere – tylko, wyłącznie
to enlist sb’s help – zabiegać o czyjąś pomoc, sprowadzić kogoś do pomocy
ultimately – ostatecznie
workload – obciążenie pracą
no-brainer – rzecz oczywista (pot.)
interconnected – wzajemnie powiązany
ceiling – sufit; tu: niewidzialna bariera
boardroom – szczebel ścisłego kierownictwa firmy; poziom zarządu spółki
to ask around about sth – rozpytywać o coś, dowiadywać się o coś
parallel – równoległy
department – dział, pion (spółki)
hiring manager – menadżer ds. kadr/zatrudnienia
to confess to doing sth – przyznawać się, że się coś (zazwyczaj) robi
opening – wolna posada
to go on an offensive – przejść do ataku, rozpocząć ofensywę
vacancy – wakat
to probe – badać, sondować
perfect match – doskonały wybór, doskonała partia
to approach sb for sth – zwrócić się do kogoś o coś
peer recommendation – rekomendacja środowiska/koleżeńska; pismo referencyjne od współpracownika
prime – główny, podstawowy
supporter – stronnik, zwolennik; ktoś, kto kogoś popiera
to inquire – pytać, zapytywać
to forge sth – tu: nawiązać coś (np. więź/relację)
working relationship – stosunki na drodze służbowej
to prepare the ground (for sth) – przygotować grunt na coś
to leave for pastures new – wyruszyć na podbój świata
to vouch for sb – poręczyć za kogoś, zaręczyć
to root for sb – dopingować kogoś
to arrange sth – zaaranżować coś, zorganizować
approval – aprobata, akceptacja
to master sth – opanować coś
easy-going – łatwy w obyciu
to crave sth – pragnąć czegoś
to accomplish nothing – nie zyskać niczego, nic nie wskórać
mindless drone – bezmyślny trybik (o pracowniku korporacji)
careerist – karierowicz
to turn one’s back on sb – zapomnieć o kimś, odwrócić się do kogoś plecami
legitimate – zasadny, uzasadniony
fed up with X – mający X po dziurki w nosie
thus – zatem, stąd/a więc
worst-case scenario – najgorszy możliwy scenariusz, najgorszy wypadek
pillar – filar
to blame sb for sth – obwiniać kogoś o coś
nod – skinięcie głową, potwierdzenie
to sign off on sth – podpisać zgodę na coś, zezwolić na coś (oficjalnie)
employee review – ocena pracownicza
sth is a must – coś jest koniecznością
heads-up – powiadomienie, sygnał (o czymś)
to remind – przypomnieć
in sb’s absence – pod czyjąs nieobecność
to hesitate – wahać się
to name names – wspominać kogoś z nazwiska/imienia
to designate – wyznaczyć
glowing recommendation – bardzo pozytywna rekomendacja
to arrive at a decision – podjąć decyzję
to benefit from sth – skorzystać na czymś
desire – chęć, pragnienie
to head out – wyruszyć
the great beyond – wielka niewiadoma; nowe horyzonty
by virtue of X – poprzez X, dzięki X
to do one’s homework – odrobić zadanie domowe, dobrze się przygotować
to get in touch with sb – skontaktować się z kimś
to precede sb – poprzedzać kogoś, wyprzedzać
a lofty height – wyniosła pozycja, tu: wysokie stanowisko
armed with X – uzbrojony w X

by Prochor Aniszczuk

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