I was recently talking to someone who was interested in a promotional opportunity had opened up. He said that he would tell the executive that the position reported to that he wanted the job. I asked if he was going to submit an application. “No,” he told me. “Internal candidates don’t have to. I just have to tell them that I’m interested.”
He went on to tell me that his boss didn’t really train him to move up. I asked if his boss understood that he wanted a promotion. “He must know that,” he said. “I fill in for him when he’s out.”
He was making two assumptions: 1) That his boss and people above his boss knew that he aspired to his boss’s position, and 2) That those same people knew what he did.
I’ve worked for companies that require applications from internal and external candidates alike. More often than not, when an internal candidate applied for a promotion, their application taught me something about them that made me look at their application for a promotion with fresh eyes. It might be some outside activity, work they did before I knew them, or even something that they did while working for me that I hadn’t taken notice of when it happened.
It’s important to remember that your boss is probably busy thinking about what he/she is doing, and may not register all of your contributions to the team over the years, even if he/she is a micromanager. Contrary to what many team members may think, most bosses don't have time to watch members of their teams. Using the application process to put your accomplishments front and center is an important step.
When you apply for a promotion, the application should communicate to decision-makers what your value proposition is for the role you’re seeking. Assuming they know what you’ve done, which as I’ve stated is not as much of a certainty as you might think.
Leaders often look at their teams in the context of their current roles. We often don’t take the time (not saying that this is good practice) to imagine people in different roles. So it’s a good idea to make sure that your boss knows that you’re looking to move up, though not necessarily into his/her position.
The key thing to remember is that people at work see you doing things. Seeing is very different from knowing what you did and how you did it. If you want to move up, you need to make sure that you take available opportunities to help people to know what you did and how you made it happen.
QUESTION: How do you advise others to let their boss know that they have ambitions?
Leadership/Career Coach Kris Ishibashi works with leaders to bring together their skills, their authentic selves, and their intentions to inspire their organizations to superior performance. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation.