Work Hard and You’ll Get Promoted 

Does it seem that any time a new person joins your organization, they’re golden? Did management listen and respond positively to the same fabulous idea you brought up just last week?

Sometimes longevity in an organization leads to being taken for granted. This “invisibility curse” goes against the old adage that working harder will lead to more responsibility, a better title, and more money. What can you do to show leadership you have what it takes to get promoted? Here are some quick tips.

Strategic Thinking
Hard working employees need to take a minute and think strategically about how to position themselves in their organization for career advancement. This may be a bit Machiavellian if you are used to putting your firm first, but get over it!

First, take an objective look at your performance. You work hard, put in the hours, and produce, but is that what it takes to be a leader?

Your firm or company’s management team isn’t only looking for good performance when finding the right person to promote. They are looking for potential – someone who shows they know how to delegate, can motivate a team, and have vision for the future.

Think strategically about what types of skills your organization needs, what skills you have, and the gap between the two. Remember, it is not always about the technical or job specific skills you need to work on; soft skills such as creative thinking, conflict resolution, or how you communicate are also very important. In fact, many are starting to refer to these as “success” skills.

But be careful: don’t tie all your goals to a position, salary, or organization. Think about this process as growing your skills as a person and a professional rather than everything you do to the job itself. Create goals for yourself, such as how to increase your impact with clients or how to become less tactical and more strategic.

Changing Your Demeanor
While it may be hard to admit, it’s not your boss’s fault you haven’t been promoted. You need to take responsibility, so once you’ve assessed the situation, think about taking the following actions to get you to the next steps:

  1. Exude confidence and competence—Being decisive and competent is a leadership trait that will be recognized and respected.

  2. Admit when you’re wrong—Ego kills, so make sure you don’t let it get in the way, or hurt your chances, of rising in your organization. Be honest when you’ve made a mistake or don’t know the answer to something.
  3. Don’t compete—Being promoted is not about being in the office more hours than anyone else; it is about being focused and bold, so stop competing with others in your department and focus on working together to achieve organizational goals.
  4. Show initiative—Let your boss know you want to expand your skills and grow. Be as specific as possible. For example, you may say something like, “I’d like to grow my project management skills. Can I run the next audit for Client B?” If you get a “no,” ask why so you can learn what to say next time, and wait for another opportunity.
  5. Have a network—Having a good reputation inside your organization and outside in your other endeavors provides great benefits. Not only is there the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” syndrome; there are tangible benefits of friendship, stronger team bonds, and the valid recommendation when needed.
  6. Track your accomplishments—If you aren’t keeping track of your achievements, who is? Keep a file of your compliments, attaboy or attagirl emails, and your accomplishments. Tie the list to your company achievements and share it with your boss. Discuss these at your performance review or when you’re ready to make a move.
  7. Speak up–When it comes down to it, management doesn’t know you are interested in a leadership position unless you make it clear.


What happens if you try all of these things and you have no luck? It may be time to move on to another company. There are times when you can’t overcome your reputation, regardless of how good it is. Look for a new job and position yourself for the next promotion with your new employer.

What have you done to get more responsibility at work? Email your comments to


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