Female Bosses: How to Land Promotions
WE in the News
The fact is, asking for a promotion isn’t just about having one conversation at review time, it’s about a year of hard work, planning, and serious strategizing. That means, although it might only be February—and you just got through a round of reviews with your manager—now is really the time you should start thinking about that end of year bonus, and begin working on a plan to actually kick some career goals in 2016.
So instead of just counting down the hours until it’s the weekend (less than 48, FYI), keep reading and take on some savvy advice from professional women at the top of their game on how to get noticed—in a good way—at the office.
Take on more responsibility at work.
“Look for opportunities to increase your responsibilities in your current role. Take on tasks that haven’t been claimed. Go above and beyond your job description to perform at a higher level than that at which you were originally hired. Once you’ve been working in this capacity for the better part of a year, you can approach your boss to discuss a promotion. Do your research in advance to understand both your market value and the value you bring to the company. Rather than waiting until bonus season to ask—when your boss will likely be fielding similar requests from others—have this conversation during an unexpected time when your boss can focus her attention on your request. As #WomenWhoWork, it’s important to have confidence in your work and your worth—and to be able to advocate on your own behalf when the time is right. As I’ve said before, you don’t get what you don’t ask for!”—Ivanka Trump, Founder and CEO, Ivanka Trump Collection and Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions, Trump Organization
Create project recap reports.
“Always make sure a conversation about a promotion revolves around what you’re capable of contributing to your company, not about your personal desire to get to the next level. Put together a project recap report that focuses on the results you’ve already driven, and make it clear that you feel you could take on more responsibility, add more value, and be a broader leadership presence. When someone on my team approaches a career growth discussion from that angle, they make it very hard to say no to a promotion.”—Tracey Lomrantz Lester, Brand Director, INTERMIX
Collaborate, don’t compete.
“Don’t compete with your co-workers. Create a collaborative, team-building environment where the whole company excels. By doing that and spearheading team work and showing leadership, a promotion will find its way to you.”—Whitney Wolfe, CEO and Founder, Bumble (and recent Create + Cultivate panelist)
Find a mentor, start early, delegate, and work fast.
“First, find a mentor and leverage them! The world of business is a complicated one, and it always helps to have someone to bounce ideas with and maybe even recommend you for opportunities if needed. It’s always awkward to ask, but identify those you admire, send them an email, ask them to coffee or lunch, and build the relationship. It will happen naturally. Also, start early— I usually start my day between 5am and 5:30am. Starting the day with a clean slate allows you to focus on new issues and ideas instead of yesterday’s problems.
Another tip is to delegate, as you can’t do everything and a good manager fosters autonomy in their team. To use a sports analogy, the team manger’s job is to select the players, build the team, and set the goal. The coach and the players design the plays and execute—as tempting as it is to interfere, you have to let the plays happen.
You should also have clear goals on what you want to achieve for your career and, like any other project, develop a short and long-term plan to get there.
Finally, work with speed and agility: I learned this from one of my former bosses Susan Plagemann who is the Publisher of Vogue. With today’s pace of change you have to always be ready to learn new things and adapt quickly to new ideas and environments.”—Stephanie Horton, Chief Marketing Officer, Farfetch
Be curious, and switch autopilot OFF.
“Work every day to take yourself to a new level of thinking and doing. The most successful people I know are curious and are on the eternal quest to better themselves. They are never just ‘done,’ but are on a journey to be curious. They turn off auto pilot, ask questions, and always seek to learn, understand and listen. Look outside your company for inspiration and creativity to bring back to your day job. Look at the gaps your company may have—how can you fill them? How can you create new ideas to solve hard problems and impact outcomes? Take your ideas to your managers and even your peers. You will be rewarded for your outside perspective and initiative.”—Tiffany Cook, Executive Vice President and Head of North America Consumer Sector, WE Communications
Stay in your own lane.
“Definitely stay in your own lane. Focus on what you’re doing—don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Move forward, stay positive, and focus on creating productive habits and goals. When you waste time worrying about other people, it takes away from your own progression.”—Emily Schuman, founder, Cupcakes and Cashmere (and recent Create + Cultivate panelist)
Ask for a promotion while highlighting your contribution.
“By framing this [promotion] talk in terms of contributions and impact, you’re removing the self-serving aspect out of the equation. As [entrepreneur] Jocelyn Goldfein says, a statement like ‘What do I need to do to make a bigger difference to the company?’ casts no doubts on the meritocracy of the company or your own motivations. This opens the conversation about what it takes to perform at the next level, what type of impact is considered most valuable to the company, what skills or track record or projects you should undertake to expand your capabilities, and how your manager can help you accomplish all of that. You’re framing this as wanting to earn your promotion versus deserving it. What if the answer is, ‘You’re not ready for a promotion yet’? The key here is not to get angry or upset, but make sure you walk away with tangible things you should be working on so you can have the conversation again. By letting your manager know that you will be following up in three months, you’re making sure they know this is important to you.”—Dona Sarkar, Principal Product Manager of Development Engagement, Microsoft
“Speak up and be assertive! Don’t wait around for a promotion to be offered to you. If you want one, ask for it. By taking the initiative to do so, you show that you’re a natural leader and exactly the kind of employee a company wants to move up through the ranks.”—Jaclyn Johnson, Founder of Create + Cultivate