Christa Ludlow, Principal Consultant of Weir Consulting, discusses how to improve your chances of gaining a promotion. Research the kinds of roles you want and start thinking of yourself as a person who is already in that role, she writes. Christa will give a presentation at the Legalwise CPD Compulsory Units for all Lawyers Conference in March on the topic “Managing Difficult Colleagues or Bosses”.
I have decided that this year I would like to apply for some promotional opportunities, but I’m concerned I don’t have what my firm is looking for. What should I do to increase my chances?
If you aspire to a higher role, but feel a bit apprehensive, first ask yourself what is motivating you? Is it the desire for higher status, more pay, to introduce change, to be recognised for your abilities, or something else entirely? Be as sure as you can that this role will bring what you want. Consider how a more senior role will allow you to pursue what is important to you and will reinforce your values. That will help motivate you to succeed in your goal.
A key part of doing well in any role is knowing and making use of your strengths. Try gathering feedback from people who know you well – colleagues, mentors, your spouse or partner, and family members. Ask them what they think are your specific strengths and to identify occasions when they observed you using those strengths in a meaningful way. You might feel a bit awkward about asking, but it will give you valuable insights. If you really have difficulty, try this strengths survey to identify your top strengths and then think about when you have used these strengths to help you succeed or contribute.
Collate the results and look for themes, then use the information to write a description of your “best self”. You can find more guidance on how to do this in this article. Which strengths were you already aware of, and which are new? What possibilities does this information open up for you? How could you use these strengths in a more senior position? And most importantly, are you making use of them now, so that you stand out from the crowd? Develop an action plan for using your strengths over the next few months.
Do some research on the kinds of roles you want and start thinking of yourself as a person who is already in that role. How did you get there? How do you help the business? Who do you connect with? You could even try writing a letter from the future to yourself telling the story of how you got the job. This can help identify the actions you can take to reduce the gaps between yourself and that future person. They might include: getting involved in a group, taking on a project, offering to give presentations to clients or using your strengths in new ways at work.
Consider what has been discussed at your performance reviews and what feedback you have received. Does any of it give you ideas for steps you could take now?
If you haven’t received feedback that helps you develop, try to arrange a time with your supervisor to discuss your performance and help him or her by asking targeted, open-ended questions. For example: “You said my presentation was great. What particularly stood out for you? Why?” or “Looking back over this project, what should I do more of or change next time?”
Remember that there will be setbacks on the path to promotion. It may be worth investing in a few sessions with a coach or mentor to help you stick to your goals, support you through setbacks and find your way to ultimate success.
Christa Ludlow is a lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in employment law and administrative law, and a qualified coach and mediator. She is a Principal Consultant with WEIR Consulting. WEIR provides workplace conflict resolution, investigation, coaching and training services to clients in the public and private sectors. Contact Christa at [email protected]. You can also find WEIR Consulting on Facebook and LinkedIn.