“Work a little so you can ball a lot.” – Tom, Parks and Rec.
Create the position that you want.
Recently I heard a story about an employee who waited for his boss to promote him and ended up disappointed. His company was going through some changes and he observed that there was a need for a full-time deputy manager position. He shared the idea with some friends who encouraged him to apply. But he ignored their advice and decided that if a position was budgeted, his boss would surely recommend him. A week later the company announced that his colleague, who sat right across from him, had been promoted to the newly established deputy manager position.
Sometimes reminders about your skills and expertise for a new role can works wonders for your career growth. Companies have problems and sometimes problems create vacancies. When you see a need, even before the vacancy is advertised, think of ways in which you can step up to the role. Draft a job description and make your pitch about how you would solve the problem. It’s important to prove that you really are trying to solve the problem. Be prepared for the possibility of first getting the job without a raise. But if you prove yourself and your company is not in the business of slavery, a promotion and raise will not be far away.
Apply for that role instead of waiting around to be picked.
I heard Evelyn’s story a few years ago. Evelyn worked at a company for four years and was considered the data management genius in her zone. The company went through some changes and a data manager position was created. Everyone who heard about it knew that the obvious choice would be Evelyn. Her friends had even started planning a celebration for the potential promotion but a few days after the position was announced, a less competent employee was promoted. To make things worse, Evelyn was asked to assist this colleague to become an expert in data management.
The employee who was promoted had a history of conflicts because she was not a team player. So we know that it wasn’t charming personality that did the trick. A few months into the role, this employee ended up quitting the company.
I have heard of so many people who wait for years to get promoted at work but never do. This is not because they aren’t great but because they let opportunities just fly by and end up waiting for their colleagues and bosses to determine their own career progress. Brush up your skills and CV and apply for that new role. Give them a case they can’t reject. But if you do get rejected, your ability to treat the rejection as a professional can still get you on the management’s radar for all the right reasons.
Turn that ‘acting manager’ position to an official promotion.
My least favorite kind of promotions are the temporary acting promotions. When someone is asked to fill an acting head position for months or years till the right person is hired. Of course, there are those who don’t want to get promoted to their acting roles and I am not referring to them. I am referring to those who are the perfect fit for the real role but are content at getting exploited in that acting position until the boss promotes them.
I have known Neeta for a long time now. Neeta had been the sales assistant for her company for two years. When her supervisor resigned, Neeta was asked to step in as the acting manager because not only was she smart, she had managed her boss’ responsibilities when her boss went on vacations. She had proven to be a leader. Neeta led the team as their acting manager for about three months before she was offered a promotion to the official role. You would expect her to be thrilled and accept the role immediately. Instead, she declined.
Everyone who heard about it told her that she was a fool. It was only after a few of her trusted colleagues drilled some sense into her did she realize how foolish she really was! At that time, she was working extra hours, at no extra pay and tons of extra stress. So why did she decline an opportunity that would give those extra stresses an official title, more pay and let her progress in her career? She thought she was not good enough.
Neeta is one of those people who measure by outcomes but don’t seek feedback. Neeta had failed to seek specific feedback from her supervisor about her performance in the acting manager position. Fortunately for her, her boss offered the role to her again after a few months. This time she did not decline. Since then she has progressed in her career beyond that company. But she considers declining the first promotion offer as one of her most foolish decisions, one that could have cost her major career growth.
Learn how to evaluate your outcomes. If you are not confident in your own abilities, no one else will be. For a company, finding an internal candidate to fill any need is preferred since they have already been part of the company. It is important to prioritize your responsibilities in an acting role in such a way that your successes can shine quickly and consistently. Ask for feedback and follow through on commitments. Take initiative and don’t let your seeming modesty ruin an opportunity.