Five Ways to Fast-Track Your Promotion

This article, by former GE CEO Jack Welch originally appeared on LinkedIn

By Jack and Suzy Welch

Who isn’t impatient to get ahead? According to a recent national workforce survey conducted by IPSOS, a global market research firm, and the Jack Welch Management Institute, 31 percent of American professionals said they have been passed over for a promotion they felt they deserved and 43 percent thought about quitting their jobs in the past year, due to frustrations at work and limited opportunity for advancement.

And while promotions can sometimes be limited by the growth of your organization and other factors outside of your control, there are always certain things you can do (and make an effort not to do) to accelerate yours.

Obviously, the only surefire way to move up in the organization is to consistently deliver great results and deliver them the right way. But here are some additional tips to think about that have the power to help you to stand apart and get in the running – fast – so that the next promotion that comes around doesn’t pass you by:

Over-Deliver.

What does that mean?  Whenever your boss gives you an assignment or asks you to figure something out, he or she usually already has a pretty good idea of what the answer is. For example, if your manager wants you to confirm that the market share of one of the division’s products is 35% and you go out and do the work only to come back with “Yes, you’re right, it is 35%”, that isn’t over-delivering. It’s just doing what you were assigned.

But guess what? School is the only place where you get an A if you do exactly what you’re asked.  Work isn’t like that.  To over-deliver, you’ve got to redefine the assignment, make it bigger, and open your boss’s eyes to a larger horizon.

Don’t underestimate the incredible power of positive surprises. If you come back with something that’s truly eye-opening and presents a new opportunity, your superiors are going to remember it for a long, long time. In the example above, for instance, if you came back defining your market share within a larger market definition that no one had thought about before – that spells opportunity… And nothing will serve your promotion ambitions better than making your boss look smarter to his or her leadership.

Don’t Make Your Boss Play Defense.

No matter where you work, your boss has a certain wonderful thing called political capital in the organization that he or she has earned over the years by getting results and being a good team player. The last thing he or she wants to do is use it up on you – especially if you want a promotion. If someone has to come to your defense because you’ve done something stupid or careless — you’ve upset the client or you’ve been late a few times, you are using up political capital. If you ask your coworkers to cover for you, you are using up political capital.  And if your boss finds him or herself forced to say things like “Please cut Mary a break because she’s really a good employee; she’s just having some problems with her dog, okay?”, you’re definitely using up political capital.

That usually works precisely one time and then it gets very old.  So, pick that time very wisely, once every five years.  ­

Love Everyone.

When you’re gunning for a promotion, you often start being very, very loving to the people above you – it’s just what happens.  And as you spend all of your time tap dancing for the powers that be, you might tend to forget the people who work alongside you and below you and start to ignore them.  That’s ugly. Nobody likes it.  In fact, even the people in power probably take note and are grossed out by this behavior.

Now, a little bit of boss-handling is always par for the game.  “How was your vacation?”, “Understand your son scored two touchdowns on Saturday… Nice going.” Fine — everyone does that sort of thing.  But you have to go beyond kissing up and also show some love to your coworkers and people who are subordinate to you. Get to know them as human beings. Find what you authentically like about each one of them — not just in your immediate group but in the whole organization.  And yes, it really has to come from a place of authenticity — this is not something that can be phony because people can sense that right away. Yuck.

Just remember the path to your promotion is paved with big love, that’s real, and in every direction.

Volunteer for Tough Duty.

Every once in a while, a boss comes along with an assignment that nobody wants. A risky new initiative. A new job that involves working overnight.  The customer with the bad personality that everyone avoids representing. These kinds of risky or unpleasant assignments that no one wants are actually a great opportunity for you to raise your hand and really get out of the pile. You may not succeed at them, but you will get points just for putting yourself out there and saying, “I’ll take the risk. I’ll do it.”

Take those tough assignments just to get yourself on the radar — even if you have to hold your nose while you do it.  It could end up being the best career move you ever make.

Seek Mentors… Everywhere.

Look, everybody wants a mentor.  Under the right circumstances, having a mentor can be great.  Just remember one thing.  You’re limiting yourself greatly if you think you have to look to a single person as your mentor. Everyone’s a mentor, everyone.  Every person you know knows something that you don’t know — alongside you, up, down, and sideways. People in other companies. People you read about in the newspaper… Everyone.

So if your definition of mentoring is too narrow, redefine it to make everyone your mentor and soak up all the insights, ideas and best practices that live all around you. You’ll be so much smarter for it.

Ultimately, these five “extras” are no substitute for delivering solid results, all the time. But if you wake up every day thinking about how to supercharge your performance with them, it will be very tough for your organization to ignore you for long.

Master the annual performance review

Welcome to the new year!

While you’re still recovering from that amazing holiday vacation and desperately trying to hold onto your new year’s resolution, your company wants you to reflect on the past year and tell them all about how you think you did.

It’s called the annual performance review. It’s the report card your company uses to evaluate you. Some companies take this process really seriously. Some don’t.

You, however, should take the performance review process very seriously. It’s the one opportunity the company gives you to actively toot your horn and not feel guilty about it. And the best part is that it becomes part of company records. All your glory (or lack thereof) is read, analyzed and stored for future reference and use.

So, here’s how to ace your review.

Avoid surprises |

If you’re waiting for the year end annual review to find out what your manager thinks of you, you’re screwed. You should know exactly what’s going to be on your review before you walk into your one-on-one. The only way to do this is to get periodic feedback sessions with your boss. Most bosses won’t have the time to set this up so make it your job. One of the first things you should do when starting a new job or starting a new year at the same job is to ask if you can set up periodic informal feedback sessions.

Then follow through.

Set meetings every month or at least once a quarter. It’s your job to know when your boss is unhappy with you and to fix it. Solicit “real time feedback” after a meeting or a pitch and ask for feedback directly both good and bad. It’s fresh and allows you to improve immediately. More importantly, it shows you care

Don’t sit around till the end to find out what you could have done. Too little. Too Late.

Market the hell out of your successes |

Influence your boss’s impression of you by taking action well ahead of review time. Throughout the year, you keep track of the accomplishments you’ve had … both small and large. Talk to your boss about every single one as soon as possible without appearing to be bragging. If possible, thank her for her support or acknowledge how you couldn’t do it without her help.

Then, during the annual review, make sure you line these successes up against your goals. And if you did it right, then your boss will remember all those accomplishments you guys talked about.

Brevity is key |

Seriously, don’t write a book. Be nice to your boss and try to keep your goals and commentary to no more than 500 – 700 characters. In a twitter driven world where 140 characters can move worlds, there’s nothing you can’t say in a few sentences. Use bullet points that get straight to the point. Abbreviation when used appropriately is fine. Do not use language you use to text your friends. No “LOL” or “IDK” or “WTF”

 Use numbers & well defined metrics |

Follow up your successes with quantifiable metrics. You increased sales by 13%. You decreased cost by $180K. You increased productivity by x%. Numbers make an impression. They give instant credibility.

Align your successes with the goals of company |

Some companies will distribute a set of goals for the year. In these cases, make sure that your goals and successes are aligned to leverage the things that are important to your leaders.

Even if your company doesn’t actually distribute goals, you need to figure out what’s important to your boss and the overall company.

Align your goals with those of your boss. This way, when you crush them, you make your boss look good. When he looks good, he will make you look good.

Be a marketing guru |

Highlight strengths but downplay weaknesses. If you led the successful implementation of the new ERP system but it was over budget, then focus on and highlight that you implemented it. Highlight the perceived or realized benefits. Don’t mention the fact that it was over budget.

Don’t lie |

This is a no-brainer. Don’t take credit for shit you didn’t do. The last thing you want is to be called out for being a liar. Remember, anything that goes on your review stays in the system forever. Being known as a liar ain’t a good career move.

Be positive |

The importance of displaying a positive attitude towards your job, your colleagues, your manager and your company can not be understated. The performance evaluation is not an avenue for you to bitch and complain. Remember how I said earlier that it becomes part of your permanent record?

No matter how pissed you are at something, use positive language.

In fact, you need to make sure nothing negative goes onto the evaluation. Nothing negative from you about the company, the job or anything else. And definitely nothig negative about you from your boss.

You can use the annual review to remind your boss about all the great things you accomplished … so that he remembers them when he’s deciding pay raises. You can use the annual review to secure a promotion. And most importantly, you can use the performance review process to set goals and expectations for the upcoming year. This way, when you crush them, your boss will notice.

Finally, the annual performance review a great way to set the stage for your future success at the company. By getting in front of it early every year, you can actively shape the image of you seen by senior leaders. This can be a deciding factor when they’re looking to promote from within.

Leaders & Leadership | thoughts from GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt

boss-vs-leader-800x800

The General Electric company is consistently recognized as an excellent breeding ground for future business leaders. So much so, that many of the current Fortune 500 leaders today rotated through GE doors before they became CEO. Jim McNerney, Chairman & CEO of Boeing, came from GE. Bob Nardelli, ex-CEO of Home Depot and Chrysler as well. So did David Cote, CEO of Honeywell. The list goes on.

The only other institution with such a reputation is Harvard.

“Firms led by CEOs who were trained at GE will outperform firms led by CEOs who were not; GE’s reputation for developing CEO talent is, in fact, well deserved and not mere hype; and GE appears to develop more CEO talent than other noted CEO talent-generating firms.” – Ivey Business Journal

So when GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt shares his thoughts on leadership and the evolving role of leaders, the Korporate Klimber pays attention.

Here’s what Jeff wrote recently |

[Recently], Aon Hewitt named GE the #1 company for developing leaders. They are an HR consulting company, so their designation means a lot. GE always ranks near the top of the list, but it is nice to be #1. A few days earlier, the Hay Group, another HR consulting firm, named GE #2 on its list of best companies for leadership.

The ratings are based on: practices and culture; global development; business and leadership strategy; reputation; and financial performance. GE tends to do well across all of the categories … that is one of our strengths.

One of the reasons GE has endured as a respected company is our commitment to leadership. However, I have always believed that “leadership has no shelf life.” In other words, as times change, techniques and emphasis must change as well. In our volatile world, leadership must adapt.

Great leaders embrace change. You, as an aspiring leader, should never accept the status quo or the phrase “Well, this is how it’s always been done.” People who say that will never become leaders. Change in inevitable. Success requires us to not only embrace the idea of change, but also that one become an agent for change.

Jeff goes on to say |

So let’s start with the elements of leadership that stand the test of time: a commitment to performance, a foundation of integrity and a desire to learn. These have been traits of good GE leaders for more than 100 years. They will – they must – never change. And, we stand by these foundations in good times and bad.

Pay attention. This is important.

Commitment to performance – You’ve got to work hard. There’s no way around it. No shortcuts. No “hacks”. But notice that he says “commitment to performance” not commitment to hard work. This means that it’s the end result i.e. the quality of the product you deliver that determines the quality of your performance. And as we all know, every high quality product requires hard work and attention to detail.

Foundation of integrity – Success without integrity will not last. Just look at Elliot Spitzer. He was the best attorney general that New York state ever had. He became governor. He was going to be the next president of the United States. Then, he gets caught for hiring prostitutes. This guy, who was the poster child for upholding the law, does something illegal. He lost his integrity. He lost the trust of those who put him up on a pedestal.

If success is built on relationships, and if relationships require trust, then how can one be successful without integrity?

Do the right thing. Always.

Desire to learn – The world is changing and so are the requirements of the workplace. Many of the skills that were important to succeed at a job just a decade ago are obsolete today. Adapt or become irrelevant. Learning and knowing new things, keeps you relevant.

No one likes stale potato chips. Keep yourself fresh. Never stop learning.

Here’s Jeff again |

But leadership must evolve with the times. Let me describe three aspects of leadership that are vastly different today than when I was growing up in the company.

Today, leaders must be deep first and broad second. The emphasis on a “general leader” is declining. Domain matters. Our best leaders have great instincts for markets, customers, data. General leaders can do ok for 2 or 3 years. Domain leaders build ideas that last.

Today, leaders must be risk managers not control freaks. I grew up in a controls-based company. But, the environment was easier. Good leaders today manage the 3-4 things that really count; they know how to prioritize.

Today, purpose is more important than process. In the past, we were more of a process-oriented company. Doing things the right way is still important today. However, in this slow-growth world, outcomes for our customers matter most. Leaders must have a passion for winning.

Passion for winning! You’ve already got that. That’s why you’re reading this blog and this article. Otherwise you’d be going through slides of top 10 twerkers in Romania or something.

Now all you need to do is develop the other skills.

Keep Klimbing.

 

Got promoted. Didn’t negotiate salary. You just got screwed!

Everyone knows to negotiate salary and other benefits when you’re first offered a job at a company. However, many people, even the best ones, rarely think to negotiate on offers when they make internal moves within departments or as they get promoted.

Consider the following:

Dana, who’s perceived as an expert in her field among her peers and senior leaders, gets assigned to a new function within her unit. Her hard work at her current role had paid off. She’d been in her role for four years and was more than ready to move on and move up. Her manager thought so as well. However, when it came to offering her the new role, her manager casually introduced it to her during her annual employee performance review. And instead of giving her a nice increase, gave her just the annual increase of 3.5%. She was told that it was a lateral move, even though it really wasn’t, and because she didn’t push to get more, she gained very little financially.

Adam is a high performer who came into his current role and owned it. He made that role his bitch. Within just a few months, he not only became an expert at the systems but also implemented process improvements that saved his company hundreds of thousands of dollars. His work caught the eye of senior leaders who kept hearing about his successes. His unique skill sets made him perfect for a new role being created. He was tapped on the shoulder and encouraged to take it. During salary negotiations, he was offered a 6% increase. He knew that not only was he the perfect fit for the role, he was the only choice. Also realizing that this was a promotional role, he countered with 10% increase. After a somewhat tense negotiation, he settled for 7%.

Michael is also a high performer at his company. He was an external hire brought in to manage the compliance process and he kicked ass. Similar to Adam, a unique role opened up for which he was perfect and he was asked to apply. Knowing fully well that he was the best and the only option, he pushed hard against the low-ball increase he was given initially. The result – he got a 15% bump in his salary.

Not only are these real life scenarios, they are also people working for the same company (albeit at different departments), at the same professional level and were offered new positions around the same time. So why was it that one person barely got an increase while another secured a huge bump? It comes down to how well you negotiate.

Think about it this way. A bump from 6% to 10% may not make a big difference in real dollars so you may decide that it’s not worth fighting for. But this one act of laziness can result in a lifetime of being underpaid. There is a tangible cost to not negotiating a higher salary. And this cost is cumulative over time. Without a counteroffer, you can easily lose out on thousands of dollars.

salary.com negotiation infographic

Every job offer and terms, even internal ones are negotiable. Many people hesitate to negotiate internal offers because they feel like it’s not an option. Trust me, the HR manager who’s offering you the job is incentivized to get the most from you at the lowest cost possible. She’s working for the company. Not you. And if you’re not fighting for yourself, then who is?

 

 

Didn’t get that promotion? The reason may be your spouse … (or Boo or BAE)

TURNS OUT WHO YOU MARRIED COULD DETERMINE YOUR CAREER SUCCESSspouse-supportive-success

We all know that our significant other has a big impact on whether we live a happy life. But according to research from Washington University in St. Louis, your significant other’s personality also influences your behavior at the workplace.

In fact, when it comes to pay raises, promotions and other measures of career success, a supportive and reliable partner may exert a bigger influence on your workplace performance than you realize. In contrast, a struggling partnership at home can wear on professional performance in subtle ways.

According to Joshua Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study, “Our study shows that it is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too.”

The five-year study looked at the lives of 5,000 married people (ages 19-89) split between couples where both spouses worked (75%) or where one spouse was a stay-at-home parent (25%). Researchers tracked job satisfaction, salary increases, and promotion-eligibility of the participants who were also given psychological tests to assess their openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness.

Workers who scored highest on measures of occupational success tended to have a spouse with a personality that scored high for conscientiousness. The correlation between a supportive spouse and a successful significant other held up, regardless of gender.

Success is a team-effort. The researchers found that three factors drive couples who succeed:

  1. Splitting day-to-day household chores like paying bills, buying groceries and raising children. The “outsourcing” of some of these tasks meant less worrying about errands at work.
  2. A supportive and trusting partner subconsciously encourages their spouse to emulate good habits. Being reliable at home makes for a more trustworthy employee; if your spouse trusts you to pick up groceries on the way home, you’re likely an employee whom your boss can trust to deliver good work on time.
  3. Finally, a conscientious partner who is diligent and reliable is a stress reliever. A spouse that keeps your personal life running smoothly will reduce stress and make it easier to maintain a productive work-life balance.

Career success is a long, slow and exhausting process. It’s like running a marathon that lasts 40 to 50 years. Having a partner who is supportive of your ambitions, who pushes you to keep going when you want to give up and who takes the load off your shoulders on days when you’re overwhelmed can be the factor that makes or breaks you.

Are you undervalued…?

Grass

 

Is your grass the greenest?

How would you know if you don’t go over the fence?

 

Dear Klimber || I’m good at what I do and love the company I work for.  I currently work for a manager that has a more traditional way of thinking which impacts the moves I can make when better opportunities arise.  I personally view him as a roadblock because any move I make to leave his group would impact him considering my level of responsibilities. I believe that I have a pretty good future here, but I’m concerned that I am wasting time in my current role. Once in a while, I get a call from a recruiter asking whether I’d be interested in other opportunities. Lately, I’ve been wondering if I should explore outside options. But it means a new start and it means having to prove myself again. What should I do? – Jacob S.

Jacob || Throughout your career, you will be courted by companies that want your skill set. They will approach you even if you’re not in the market and may offer you more money or a better title (i.e. increased responsibilities). Given that your manager is actively impeding your career, you owe it to yourself to explore all opportunities and scope out the landscape. As a rule, even if you are happy and have no plans to leave your company, you should interview with external companies and try to get an offer every two to three years.

Why, you ask? Because you are a business. Every business’ value is set by the market. The only way to know the value of your business is to step out into the marketplace and put yourself up for sale. This is also the best way to ensure that your current employer places a fair and competitive value on you. While you may truly enjoy your job and may even have a good future at your current employer, the downside with being at the same company for a long time is that your worth (whether it be monetary compensation or your title) is determined only by one entity. Your salary increases over the years (probably at a paltry 3% – 5%) and the bumps you get from promotions(10% maybe) are typically not a good indication of your value.  In fact, your salary growth will usually be at a slower pace simply because your employer is not competing for your services – instead, they are harvesting them.

Therefore, it’s in your best interest to always get a 3rd party valuation on yourself as a business and ensure that you are at least in the same zip code as the going market rate for your skill set i.e. your products.

One way to do this is to cultivate your professional network, especially on social media sites such as LinkedIn. The connections you attain may very well help to propel your career.  Another is to be open to invitations from external companies. If they value your potential and you see them as a potential suitor, go to the interview, nail it and secure an offer. That offer will tell you what your market value is.

What should you do with the offer? 

Two roads may be traveled.  The first is to embark on what I would call a “market adjustment.”  This is where you approach your current employer, express dissatisfaction with your compensation package and ask for a re-evaluation.  Most likely, they will strongly resist, and if they do, you should be prepared to show them the offer letter i.e. your market valuation. This will definitely get their attention if they did not take you seriously the first time.

I had a friend who followed this approach – He knew he wasn’t getting paid enough so he asked for a salary adjustment more in line with the market. His employer kept telling him that he was, in fact, at market. So, after a week of no success, he decided to interview at a competitor. Once he obtained an offer letter that was more in line with his expectations, he left a copy on the chair of the human resources liaison as he was leaving for the day. He got a call half-way home letting him know that his salary was being adjusted.

This is a very aggressive position to take, so be careful.  This tactic is most effective if you are a high performer that exudes KYS (Know your shit!) capabilities.

The second route is obvious – leave the company and move on. You may think that you’re not prepared to take that step. That you do not want to open any doors unless you are in fact, vehemently prepared to leave your current employer. You treat it like marriage – there are a lot of potential suitors that want you, but you can only be married to one. And you’re happy with the one you’re committed to. So why go looking!

Here’s the difference: marriage is a deeply personal commitment. Your commitment to your employer is a business contract. You cannot take it personally. Your employer doesn’t. Your employer is a business that will always act in its best interest. By not acting in the same manner, you’re limiting yourself and your worth.

A constant review of your worth in the marketplace and being flexible enough to pivot your career is the best way to ensure that you and your skills are given proper valuation.

GrassWater

Above All Else – The one skill you need to master

banner_customer_service

Like it or not, YOU are in customer service. You are a business. Your time and skills are the products you sell. Your body and mind are the tools you use. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, your success ultimately depends on your ability to Acquire, Retain and Please your customers.

If you haven’t realized this, you’re way behind on the game.

You’re thinking “What do I know; I don’t work on the sales floor. I work in a back-office function with a lot of smart people, a bunch of idiots and a plethora of assholes.”

Boss Client

 

Unfortunately for you, those idiots and assholes are your customers.

 

If you’re an accountant working in the back-office, who do you think your customers are?

Your most important customer is your boss. You are selling her on you, your brand and the potential she perceives you to have (know your shit). Inability to deliver and lack of motivation will very quickly give her buyer’s remorse.

Your secondary customers – the others who depend on you to make/review entries and perform accountant-like duties. These secondary customers can influence your primary customer so you should always be ON. Piss off a peer and the salt will leak into your brand overnight.

Good customer service means being reliable, likable and knowledgeable. Always deliver what you’ve committed to delivering (under promise but over deliver). No one can recall the times when you came in on schedule, but they damn well will remember if you’re early (sandbag – yeah I said it).

Customer Service

Finally, don’t ever deliberately piss off your customer. A pissed off customer will remember. In fact, the negative experience you provided will last longer in his memory than anything positive you’ve done. And so … in the long chance that he has the ability to influence your career growth, guess which way he’ll go.

Think of yourself as a brand like Nike, Amazon, Zappos etc. Your reputation can make or break your brand. The best way to cultivate a great reputation is to provide great customer service.