Moving up the chain of command within your current company is one of the hardest things to do. The reason is because senior managers already see you in your current role, performing your day-to-day responsibilities. They do not physically “see” you in that higher level role, successfully managing those higher-level, higher risk programs and departments. And no, it’s not a given that if you’re successful in your current position that you’ll be successful at a higher level position.
- First, you’ll need to role model those skills required in that advanced position.
Talk to other department and senior managers to find out what kinds of skills, training and qualifications are needed for the advanced position. For example, if you want to move from Account Manager to Sr. Account Manager, then you may find out the position requires someone with a proven track record in managing client expectations and leading teams. Or, if you want to transition from a Sales Manager to the VP of Sales & Marketing, the company may need a strategic thinker who can generate revenue and influence senior management. If you feel that you have the right skills and qualifications to be successful in the new role, then take an assessment of your current projects and teams that you’re leading. Are they allowing you to gain credibility with senior managers? Are they allowing you to get the “big results” that you need to get noticed?
If not, then you’ll need to step up and volunteer for projects that do. Usually, these are projects that generate revenue, streamline costs, or give the company a competitive edge in the market. Be proactive and go after those projects that are valued by company leaders where you can flex your muscles, showcase your strengths, and demonstrate that you’re the right person for the job.
- Next, you’ll need to increase your visibility and credibility with Sr. Leaders.
You want to be seen by those managers, or career influencers who could praise your work to other senior managers, promote you, or influence others to promote you. Send a crystal clear message that you have the right skills and experience for that higher level position. Seek out opportunities to promote your project teams, key successes, and the benefits that your projects are bringing to the company in your status updates, project reports, and presentations to staff and senior managers. Also, increase your visibility by writing an article for the company newsletter, hosting a webinar, speaking at an internal conference or forum, or hosting a workshop.
My client Kevin stepped up and volunteered for a highly valued and highly visible project, and two weeks later the project leader transferred to a different project. Kevin stepped up again to take on the role of project leader which gave him tremendous opportunities for increased exposure and communication to senior leaders.
One month later, Kevin stepped up again to support two additional high profile projects. Not only did he receive a promotion, but he is also feeling more satisfied, more energized, and more respected in his career than ever before.
I’ve personally stepped up in my own career several times with remarkable success. Once, when the department I was working in shut down the marketing line of service along with two projects I was leading, my manager asked me if I wanted to lead a high profile technical project. At the time, I didn’t have any experience in technical leadership. I remember being terrified, but I knew the reward could be huge. So I stepped up and within one year I received a promotion as well as a 22-percent increase in salary.
Successful professionals are always seeking out opportunities to step up and take on higher-level responsibilities that are valued by company leaders. Yes, there is risk involved, but if you don’t step up and prove yourself, then ten years from now you’re likely to be in the same job role with the same responsibilities and the same salary that you have today. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that if this is where you want to be. But, if you want more responsibility, more leadership opportunities and a beefier paycheck – you’ll need to take the first step.