Here’s How You Get Promoted ✔

A former coworker of mine always missed out on a promotion that he was so sure he’d get. Not once or twice, but every single year of his five-year tenure with the firm.

He showed up to work every day, had a consistently positive performance, was liked by all the managers, and had no problem working long hours to get the job done.

So why wasn’t he promoted I hear you say?

His plan of action was simple: work hard each day and meet the manager’s expectations.

Here’s where his plans fell short.

He delivered the value to the firm for the position he held but not necessarily the value expected for the role that he wanted to be promoted to.

Clearly, just getting on your manager’s good side isn’t good enough.

Let me share with you a better strategy.

It’s quite simple actually.

It all begins with goals. I know you heard this a million times, set your goals, set your objectives, and their gazillion derivatives.

I am afraid I just can’t get away without it here.

Bear with me though.

Do you want to be a manager leading a team of a hundred consultants across the world? Maybe you want to become the head of PMO? Or do you want to get transferred to your New York HQ?

What is your end goal?

Once you are clear about your end goal, then you can proceed to the next step.

We are going to need to run a bit of a mapping study now. The objective of this study is to understand who the members of the following two groups are.

1 — Who are the primary stakeholders — decision makers

2 — Who are the secondary stakeholders — people who have access or influence over the primary stakeholders

The next step involves knowing the traits and skills that these decision makers look for. So, if you want to be a manager, what traits are needed in your firm?

- Having a million dollar client portfolio?

- Strategic analysis of solvency models?

- Excellent conflict resolution?

- Ability to motivate your troops for a record sales year?

Not only do you have to be a rockstar in terms of your performance in those traits, but almost more importantly, you need to communicate these “messages” to the decision makers.

It’s one thing to be really good at your work and be able to deliver an incredible performance and another thing to let the key decision makers know that you are a rockstar.

Once you’ve figure out what they’re looking for, then it’s now time to communicate those traits to the secondary stakeholders for them to convey the message to the primary stakeholders. This was a long and confusing sentence I admit… This is the core of your strategy. Let others do the influencing campaign on your behalf.

Okay then, but how is this plan supposed to work?

Let me share with you my story of how I got a promotion in my first year at PwC Consulting. It was year 2012 when I joined as an assistant manager.

My goal was to get promoted to manager within a year. Getting promoted to a senior role like a manager in first year after joining was unheard of at that time. Now, obviously, I came from a consulting background and was already 30 years old. But learning how things are done the PwC way still takes a tremendous amount of experience.

Here is how I did it.

First, I took on highly complex projects. It’s where I can best show my ability in handling crisis situations and other traits they looked for in a manager.

Next, I identified the primary stakeholders (decision makers). In my case, those were Rami, Sally, and Emad, partners in the firm responsible for my future career.

Then, I figured out who the secondary stakeholders (influencers to primary stakeholders) were — five directors who worked with the three partners.

During my year, I made sure I took up as many projects as possible for those five directors. By doing great work in those projects, I was able to communicate to them my skills and leadership traits. I also made sure that they conveyed the same message to the decision makers.

So, how did this strategy lead to my promotion? This is how the decision came about.

The panel chair, Rami, opened my file and asked the panel:

Does Deniz have leadership skills for a manager? (This is how I played things happened in my mind.)

Sally, one of the partners, jumped in and said: Yes he does. According to Tom, one of the directors, Deniz delivered great results on this education strategy project. Tom told me he was impressed by how Deniz handled that expansion project for ABC Education.

Rami then asked another question to the panel: does Deniz have project execution capabilities? Then another panel member, Emad, said: Yes he does. According to Houssam, Deniz did great work in this project for our government client, clearly showing his project execution capabilities.

See where I’m getting at?

By making the secondary stakeholders affirm my skills using real examples or projects, I was able to communicate to the decision makers that I had the traits they are looking for. It left no room for questions so my promotion was passed within minutes.

Simply put, talking to the decision makers about how great you are will not influence their decision. Trust me; you can’t just talk your way into a big promotion.

But if they hear the message from someone they trust and have influence over them such as clients, then it changes the game.

It’s all about communicating the right messages to the right people at the right time.

But that’s only the first part. To influence them, you got to do more than just be visible to them.

For them to listen to you, you need to give them something valuable. If they are indebted to you, then you’ll have a better chance of influencing them. Client needs a report? Have it ready in advance. The team needs help in solving a complex problem? Give your input and offer a solution even before they ask for your help.

Once those secondary stakeholders are indebted to you because of the great work you did for them, then conveying your message to the decision will be a walk in the park. All you’ll have to do is; ASK.

And hey, if you don’t get the promotion you deserve then look for other opportunities in your career. Please consider joining 1,450 LIG members who transformed their careers and landed great work opportunities with leading multinational firms.

And if you found this article helpful, please remember to give it a “clap” and share your comments below. I am looking forward to engaging with you in the comments section.

Deniz Sasal is a former strategy consultant with PwC Consulting and the founder of The Career Mastery. Deniz helps professionals find better employment with multinational firms through his LIG program (open twice a year).

He has an MBA degree from Cass Business School of City University London and holds various professional certificates in the field of strategy, project management, and risk management. He is also a European Champion sailor.