The Definitive Guide to Getting Promoted at Work!

The bad news? Your next promotion is 80% determined by your manager

The good news? You have a 100% chance to influence that 80%.

Here’s how I got promoted 4 times over the last 8 years of my career in management consulting and tech 🧑🏻‍💻


Watch it in action

Tip 1 - Create a Macro-Micro Roadmap

Diving right into an example, if you take these bullet points in isolation - Mentor new joiners and present to senior leaders - they’re great for increasing visibility in the workplace but those should only come AFTER 6 months of learning your core job and another 6 of over-delivering and exceeding expectations

By the same logic, if you ask for a promotion too early, you have no track record, no credibility. If you ask for one too late, well you’re too late and they’re already planning on promoting someone else

So as you can see, having a Macro timeline along with Micro action items gives you a very structured way to approach career development conversations with your manager.

Put another way, micro is what you do, macro is when you do it

Tip 2 - Manage up, and across

When you join a new company or team, you should always ask your manager to introduce you to these 3 people:

First, a mentor who is 1 step ahead of you career-wise.

This is NOT your onboarding buddy but rather someone who is in a next-level position and can give you very practical advice on the do’s and don’ts.

Meet with them weekly and always prepare meaningful questions. I found this question list by Dickie Bush to be amazing.

Second, a diagonal peer who is in the same organization OR in a cross functional team

They are usually the same level as your manager and the best ways to engage them are:

  1. To send them an email whenever a project you’re working on benefits their business
  2. Schedule regular 1:1’s and ask for their advice on a challenge you’re facing
  3. And my personal favorite: give credit and let them know if THEIR team helped YOU in some way

Third person, your manager’s manager

You should meet with them twice a year and if you don’t know what to cover in those 1:1’s, here are 3 ideas:

  1. A status update on a project you’re working on, this is a safe business topic
  2. A challenge or a win from the front line, since they’re usually too senior to hear these stories
  3. Or feedback on a current process that can be improved. Do this only if you have already taken steps to help out

These 3 people will help you perform better at your core job, deepen your network within the organization, and during performance review season, they will be your strongest advocates!

Tip 3 - Don’t Beat Around the Bush

It’s tough to ask for a promotion, I would know. But there’s a huge benefit of having a transparent discussion and that is to identify gaps in your skillset as early as possible

Here’s how I kick off the conversation with my manager:

Hey Prisca, having spent almost a year in my current role, and overachieving revenue targets by 10% through initiatives A, B, and C, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how I can best position myself for a promotion in 2 cycles.
Since you have a much broader perspective, it would be great if you could share the skills you see in strong performers at the next level that I could work towards
Pro tip: Once you’ve aligned on areas you can improve on, ask your manager to create opportunities for you to work on those areas.

Tip 4 - Play the Game, and Keep Score

The “game” is easy. It’s simply knowing the success metrics employees are measured on. There’s usually a business OKR - what you do - and company attributes - how you do it

Business OKRs are easy to quantify:

  • Revenue, cost savings, number of bugs fixed.

Company attributes differ by company:

  • I used to be measured on execution, problem-solving, thought leadership, etc, but Apple employees are measured on teamwork, innovation, and results

Keeping score is the hard part because most of us forget to regularly review our accomplishments when we’re not asked to do it right. But here’s a trick

For the quantifiable metrics, come up with an automated system you just need to set up once but can give you updated numbers with minimal work. I talk about this in my productivity for work video so check that out

Pro tip: Always find a way to benchmark YOUR numbers to a team or regional average

For company attributes, create a tab for each quarter in your 1:1 document with your manager. Remember, you should always organize information by where you will use it because this way, you will never forget to update that tab

Within the tab, list out the company attributes and the corresponding projects where you showcase each attribute. Include the objective, talking points to bring up with your manager, and most importantly, colleagues aka your advocates who can vouch for you

Tip number 5 - Be the master of one

In my experience, it’s hard to be above average in all aspects of the   job, but it’s relatively easy to stand out in 1 specific area. The trick is to find the most boring, unsexy part of the job, and own it.

When I was in the sales team, I spent a lot of time creating onboarding videos for new hires teaching them how to use our backend systems.

When I joined the marketing team, I got really good at drafting contracts and purchase orders, and for those of you who don’t know, that is probably the most mind-numbingly boring work you can do as a marketer

But because no-one else wanted to do it, it was easy for me be known by senior leaders as that helpful dude who is strong in execution!

Sounds great Jeff, but what should I ACTUALLY do day-to-day?

Here are my 5 most practical tips for productivity at work!