A simple 3-step exercise that can boost your chances of getting a promotion

Writing handwriting journal
Ask coworkers to write down one thing they like about your performance and one thing you can improve. Shutterstock

Nearly a third of employees feel they have been passed over for a promotion they deserved.

That’s according to the results of a new poll conducted for the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.

It can be tempting to stop trying to improve at your job when you think your contributions aren’t being recognised. But you can boost your chances of scoring that new title the next time around if you think strategically about your performance.

We spoke with Andrea Backman, Ph.D., dean of the Jack Welch Management Institute, and learned that there are three must-dos for anyone in this position.

1. Self-reflect.

“Being honest with yourself is one of the things that is required to be a leader today,” Backman said.

Start by asking yourself a series of questions about your performance and answering them as candidly as possible. Those questions include:

  • Am I outperforming?
  • Am I over-delivering?
  • Am I making my boss smarter?

2. Solicit feedback from others.

Make a list of other people you trust, including coworkers, managers, and direct reports, and ask for their input on your performance.

To do this, Jack Welch advocates one strategy in particular: Give everyone in your network an index card and ask them to write down one thing they like about your performance and one thing you can improve.

If that technique feels too formal, you can try soliciting feedback on the fly. The next time you submit an assignment, ask your boss if she feels you’ve over-performed on the task.

Then compare the feedback you received from coworkers with your own reflection on your performance. Check to see if others perceive you the same way you perceive yourself.

3. Set goals.

Once you’ve been honest with yourself about potential shortcomings and learned what others want from you, you can develop an action plan for improvement.

Again, you can use index cards to record a series of short-term, medium-term, and long-term steps.

An example of a short-term goal (i.e. something you can do in the next few weeks) might be to work more efficiently and be more innovative on a current project. What can you do to produce better results for your boss and your department?

Backman recommends practicing this three-step exercise on a quarterly basis. That way, you’ll always be thinking about how you can do your job better, putting yourself in a better position to get promoted.

“Don’t lose the guts to continue to self-improve,” she said.

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