Five Ways to Fast-Track Your Promotion

Most of us want to get promoted. We are mobile, we are solid performers. But what else can we do?

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.

Over-Deliver.

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.

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.

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

Care and 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.

Now, 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. Authenticity is KEY — this is not something that can be phony because people can sense that right away.

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.

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.


Ultimately, these five “extras” are no substitute for delivering solid results, all the time.

And stay true to yourself and others!