Why didn’t I get that promotion?!?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Every one of us has, or will at some point in time, witness a colleague receiving a promotion for which it would seem we were just as suitable a candidate.

While we might wonder why this happened, the truly mature person at this point is happy for and congratulates their colleague for their accomplishment.

Too often people feel that when someone moves ahead of them it is because of “who they know” or even something as devious as “they must have pictures.” 🙂 While this may be the case in the rare / exception scenario it really is more likely that the person who was promoted was quite simply more qualified for the expanded role (and higher pay).

What?!?! Some might ask. I work just as hard as they do. And, I’ve been in the job much longer than they have.

Hardly an entitlement for a promotion…

To increase our pay via an expanded role we must increase our value so that it is commensurate with the role we seek.

I’m presently on break (in Puerto Rico) in the middle of a client engagement for which we are defining the core competencies that are required for each role and level within a particular organization.

To keep my mind “in gear” for this project I thought I’d dash out a quick blog-post on the topic.

At a high-level, there are 3 categories of core competencies that one must consider as they move up the corporate ladder, regardless of industry.

  1. Dealing with People
  2. Dealing with Business
  3. Dealing with Self

Now, let’s expand on (list out) the core competencies that one must be especially effective in, at each level of an organization. Some competencies need no further explanation, while others required a bit of commentary.

Here we go…

Individual Contributor

Individual contributor roles can have many levels, from the entry-level associate to lead individual contributor. And, to grow from that entry-level to lead role one must be increasingly effective at the following core competencies.

  • Customer Orientation – Internal/other department or external/paying customer
  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Being a Team Player – Putting the team / organization before self
  • Thoroughness and Completeness
  • Stress Management
  • Technical Acumen – MS Office, business systems, Internet, etc.
  • Diagnostic Information Gathering – The ability to tease information out of a situation to subsequently take the next appropriate steps
  • Analytical Thinking

Then, to rise to the level of lead individual contributor one must demonstrate the following:

  • Initiative – Doing the right things at the right times without being asked or told to do so.
  • Conceptual Thinking – The ability to find effective solutions by taking a holistic, abstract, or theoretical perspective.
  • Managing / Dealing with (the ONLY constant) Change
  • Self Confidence – Faith in one’s own ideas and capability to be successful; willingness to take an independent position in the face of opposition.
  • Interpersonal Awareness – Being aware of, in tune with and handling interpersonal interactions in ways that demonstrate empathy towards others.
  • Entrepreneurial Thinking – Constantly identifying ways and means to do things faster and/or more easily to increase profit (increase revenue and/or decrease cost).
  • Persuasive Communication – The ability to communicate via oral and written means in a way that makes an impact and persuades the intended audience.
  • Personal Credibility – Demonstrated concern that one be perceived as responsible, reliable, and trustworthy.

Team Lead to Manager

The biggest career leap anyone will make is from an individual contributor (managing only one’s self) to that of team lead, supervisor or manager (leading others). To continue moving up the ladder one must increasingly demonstrate the above, as well as show an aptitude for growing in the following areas:

  • Providing Motivational Support – Enhancing others’ commitment to their work.
  • Empowering Others – Conveying confidence when assigning complex / new duties, allowing employees freedom to decide how they will accomplish their tasks.
  • Developing Others – Thoughtfully delegating work and providing the necessary coaching to develop their capabilities.
  • Managing Performance – Taking responsibility for the team’s performance by setting clear goals and expectations, tracking progress, providing feedback and addressing performance problems promptly.
  • Attention to Communication – Ensuring information is passed on to others who should be kept informed.
  • Results Orientation – Focusing on the desired result of the team’s work, setting challenging goals, focusing attention on these goals and meeting or exceeding them.
  • Establishing Focus – Being able to develop and communicate the goals of the team or organization in support of the business’ mission.

Then, to be considered a higher-level leader a person must also demonstrate the following:

  • Decisiveness – The ability to make difficult decisions in a timely manner.
  • Influencing Others – The ability to influence others (gain support for projects, proposals, etc.) outside of their own unit (direct reports).
  • Building Collaborative Relationships – The ability to develop and strengthen partnerships with others inside and outside the organization who can provide information and assistance.
  • Forward Thinking – The ability to anticipate the implications and consequences of situations and taking appropriate action to be prepared for possible contingencies.

Senior Manager to VP

In addition to the above competencies, to be truly effective in the more senior roles in an organization one must demonstrate the following:

  • Strategic Thinking – The ability to analyze the organization’s competitive position by considering market and industry trends, existing and potential customers (internal and external), and strengths and weaknesses as compared to competitors.
  • Fostering Innovation – The ability to develop, sponsor, or support the introduction of new and improved methods, products, procedures, or technologies.

Some might say, “geez, it would seem many of these competencies could apply to most everyone (at every level) in the organization.” That is correct! However, to effectively manage career growth and development, it becomes important to focus on those areas that are most important at each level. Hence, the suggested progression of competencies outlined here.

So, if you ever find yourself asking the question “Why didn’t I get that promotion?” consider the above. And, feel free to politely and professionally ask your manager to provide feedback on any gap areas that you need to consider or competencies that you need to develop to be considered for the next opportunity. From there you can build a plan to grow in the required areas so you’ll be the top candidate for future opportunities.

I’d better stop now as the warm breeze is blowing sand onto the keyboard of my MacBook, as my wife and I sit on the beach…

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