Wendywoman on promotion strategy…

Reporter Query:

A national career woman’s site wants to put together a strategy guide of how to ask for a promotion and what you really shouldn’t do. Would love to hear some horror stories on the subject as well.

I walked into my annual review, all set to ask for an increase in my salary. I was the star sales person in a company with 300 sales people. Nobody worked harder than me. I had all the awards to prove it. I deserved a raise and that promotion to a district sales manager. What I ended up with was: We’ll take your company car keys; give us your laptop; you’re fired. How could I have been so far off base in my assessment of what I thought I was doing and what the company perceived I was doing? Easy. I was an arrogant prima dona, and even though I had great results, there would be no promotion. I didn’t really understand what the company wanted in an employee.
In the years that followed, I would have a number of opportunities to “pitch” myself for a promotion. Each time, I focused on 4 things:

1) Knew my top 3 strengths and could articulate what that meant to the company today and how, by exploiting them even more (i.e., authority, job scope), it would produce “X” results for the company.

2) Had concrete examples of how I had evolved and changed since my last review, thereby demonstrating that in this environment, where rapid change is all around us, I would be the person most likely to help initiate change and cascade it through the organization instead of resist it.

3) Had concrete examples to demonstrate I was an independent thinker and was not afraid to use that skill set. I was willing to make tough decisions and live with the consequences, good or bad.

4) Had concrete examples of how I was everyone’s go-to person. I went out of my way to help anybody and everybody, whether it was my job to do so or not.

With the facts in hand, it was easy to make a business case that either got me the promotion or got me on the radar screen for the next promotion when I wasn’t there before.