How to Get Promoted
“How do I get promoted?” It’s what every employee wants to know. Even if they aren’t asking you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking it. However, finding the right answer isn’t always easy.
The good news is, by clearly laying out what an employee can achieve and what it will take to make it happen, a well-thought-out career development plan doesn’t just answer that all-important question, it gives employees a reason to stay as well as providing renewed focus and motivation.
- A Little Support Goes a Long Way – In the age of the gig economy—where work can seem increasingly transactional and employees may be skeptical that any employer truly has their best interests at heart—a manager offering guidance on how to progress can make a big difference.
Careers are unpredictable and knowing that someone is looking out for you can provide a great reason not to jump ship. Of course, this benefits both sides. Companies need productive employees, but they also benefit from employees who are motivated to improve themselves.
- Think Short-, Mid- and Long-Term Career Pathing – A really engaging career plan will include actionable next steps, motivating long-term goals and realistic points in between. But it shouldn’t be considered set in stone. As an employee develops, realizing new passions or growing tired of others, their ambitions can change.
So, it’s important to make career planning a process, rather than a one-off event. The opportunity for further discussion and re-reassessment should always be available.
- Get to Know What Your Employee Wants – More than anything else, creating a great career plan takes getting to know an employee—their goals, hidden talents or even secret struggles. You don’t want to push them towards a career trajectory that will end up making them miserable.
At the same time, employers need to be open too. Creating an ambitious career plan is a great way for a manager to give an employee a show of faith in their potential. If this goes unsaid, an employee may seek somewhere they know they’ll be appreciated.
- Employees Need to Know Themselves – The problem is, it’s tough for anyone to know what they really want. Sure, a promotion would be nice—but what does that really mean? Is it about a new title, a higher salary or just to keep things fresh?
Before you plan an exciting career path for an employee, you have to encourage them to really ask themselves what it really is they are looking for. A big promotion might be their dream, but if it turns out they’ll be no longer working on projects they currently enjoy, are they sure their heart will really be in it?
- Align Employee with Business Needs – Of course, there’s another side to the coin. Recognizing potential is all well and good, but managers need to match employee ambition with business need. Before offering career guidance to employees, it’s essential to consider what positions are likely to be available in future. Telling everyone their dream job is waiting for them if they work hard enough just isn’t practical.
That doesn’t mean leaving your star talent to look elsewhere. Developing internal candidates is great—you save on recruiting costs while strengthening company culture. But you are investing time and finance in your employees, so you have to ensure that it doesn’t go to waste.
- Management Isn’t the Only Route for Career Advancement – Some people just aren’t cut out for management. But often, they end up there anyway. Why? Because that’s just the normal career progression! And the worst thing is, not only do these poor managers hurt their teams, they are taken away from tasks they were good at.
That’s why companies need to create different employee progression pathways, where status (and salary) can rise without the burden of management responsibility. For instance, a talented software developer may not be suited to the role of managing other developers but could earn a similar increase in prestige and compensation with promotion to Software Architect, a more technical position.
- There are Many Ways to Develop Employees – At the end of the day, employees should be the architects of their own career paths. However, when an employee has potential, but isn’t yet prepared for a promotion, companies can enable the necessary development in countless ways. These include:
- Job Shadowing
- Job enlargement
- Job rotation
- In-house training programs
- External training programs
- Online Courses
- Tuition reimbursement
- Industry membership
- Conference/Seminar attendance
- Don’t Over-Promise – Though it can be tempting to include one or more of these development strategies in a career plan, only do so if you know you can follow through. It might sound nice at the time, but ask whether the investment is really financially justifiable.
If it later turns out you can’t find the funding, it’ll be a killer for employee engagement. And worse—in some states such promises from employers may even be considered legally binding.
- Different Generations May Need Different Support – Career planning means very different things for those at different stages of their careers. For Gen-Z, even a wireframe plan for future decades can seem overwhelming (and unrealistic) but gaining new skills is essential.
Those approaching the end of their years in the workforce may be less interested in personal growth, instead seeking a more granular step-by-step plan for achieving their final career goals.
- There’s No Career Path Blueprint – The predictable career paths of previous decades are long gone, tenures are shorter and younger generations are job-hopping like no generation before. Career paths aren’t as clear as they used to be. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
If a commitment to career planning convinces employees that sticking around long-term is worthwhile, you can supercharge your efforts to keep engagement up and turnover down.
How Paycor Can Help
Paycor HR offers the technology and expertise that HR leaders need to modernize how they manage and develop their people. Download our guide on How to Recruit, Coach and Develop Teams.