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  • Jeremy Cooper

Path to promotion, the secrets - Part 2

In last week’s newsletter I talked about how you need to operate in order to get onto the path to promotion and I hope you took the time to review but also implement at least one of the items. Slowly integrating these into your daily and weekly habits is the key to success rather than trying to do it all in November


This week I want to give you a bit of the inside track on what goes on within most organisations and therefore what you need to be aware of and focus on to get you on that path to the job title you want. A couple of these were a real surprise to me when I found out and frustrating as it makes a big difference once you know

Part 2 – Do the research


Review the materials

If your company is over a few hundred people in size, a level of structure is usually put into place regarding job grade, title and descriptions. This is important as it serves as a levelling tool for all people in the organisation and will generally set out expectations of individuals, traits and often contain the promotion criteria, but no worries if they don’t. First thing to do when looking to go for a promotion is to review this document or series of documents. Read through what is expected at your grade and make sure you’ve done it all, make some notes on evidence and also reasons you haven’t done areas if needed. This is important as some items won’t be relevant to everyone due to the generic nature of the documents e.g. an Infrastructure manager and an applications development manager might have the same grade but have differing roles and expectations.


Then check out either the promotion criteria, what do you need to do to get promoted, or if they don’t have it, review the job description of the level you want to move to. This is important for 2 reasons, 1. Are you ready for the promotion? This could be experience, time in role, specific qualifications/training etc. and 2. Do you want the promotion??? Everyone has their passion and wants in life and you need to ensure the job aligns with those. If you really don’t like managing people but love technology and the next level up is people manager, then getting a promotion is likely not right for you. Only get a promotion to something better, and that doesn’t just mean money and title.



Learn the secret handshakes

This is the first of my real promotion light bulbs moments which I got part way through my career, and was only discovered after a few drinks at a team building event with the HR director, as until you manage people you don’t know. Most big companies have unwritten rules on promotions that are very hard to get around unless someone is exceptional or there are exceptional circumstances, here are some examples I’ve experienced or have been told about:


  • You can only get to grade x unless you have a degree, especially for more mature companies

  • You need to have exceeded or excelled for the last 2 years in a row

  • Time in role is not a justification for promotion

  • You need to be operating at the grade above for 12 months prior to the promotion

  • If you apply for an internal role at a higher grade it will be a lateral move and promotion in future year(s)

As you can see these are important to know as you can’t just have a good 6 months and expect to get promoted.


Talent review

A bit like Britain’s got talent but more contentious at times 😊. I believe most people fall into the trap of thinking that their manager is the only person they need to deliver to, I was one of those people, however, this isn’t correct. Talent review is a process often carried out twice a year at team, departments and company level to assess the talent, determine who has potential, who is delivering etc. During the process people are usually put into a four or 9 blocker, see example below, to determine their current performance in role and their potential for more.


When your name or picture comes up and the leadership will discuss and then place you in a box. This means your need the majority of the group to understand what you do and also how you operate to get you towards that top right box. This goes back to being top of mind within the organisation, as one of the worst things that can happen is that your name comes up and most people don’t know who you are or what you do

You operate at the level before asking for it

This ties nicely back to the materials tip in that you need to start consistently acting and behaving in the way you are expected to at the next grade. This might be taking accountability for more, running a virtual team, taking on some tasks from your leadership team. This shows you’re driven, willing and able to operate at the next level without requiring the financial reward in advance.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t do task X as it’s not within their job description, however they will do it once they get more money and title. This to me is totally the wrong way round!

So, now you’ve got a bit more of the inside track on some of the HR side which can be real roadblocks if you don’t head them off in advance

If you liked this newsletter, please share and let you friends and colleagues know about it as I’d love to help more people!