One morning, your boss calls you into her office. Your heart starts racing a little faster—she looks serious. Are you about to get fired?
“I have some news,” she says. Then her face breaks into a smile. “Congratulations, you’re getting a promotion!”
Spontaneous promotions are awesome, but let’s be realistic. Most of the time, you know one is coming, either because you’ve asked for it, or your manager has set a timeline with clear milestones.
So if you want more responsibilities, money, and influence—but know a promotion isn’t currently in the works—here are two important strategies for making it happen.
Document your wins
To convince your manager you deserve a promotion (and give them ammunition to persuade their boss), you need well-documented wins. This is so important…but unfortunately, few people realize it. Being great at your job is necessary, but not sufficient. Your boss has a ton going on—if you don’t proactively bring your achievements to their attention, they probably never will know about them. And when it comes to your career, if your manager doesn’t know you’ve done something, it may as well never have happened.
With that in mind: Every time you do something noteworthy, whether that’s finishing a project successfully, saving the company time, resources, and/or effort, hitting or exceeding a goal, identifying a potential issue, or solving a problem, write it down.
Make sure you’ve also taken screenshots or attached any relevant notes (like an email from a customer saying “Thank you so much!”) so you have visuals as well. After all, seeing is believing.
Depending on your company culture, forward these to your boss, bring them up during your regular check-in, share them at your team meeting, or incorporate them into the review process. This habit will give your manager plenty of reasons to promote you.
Always have an answer
There are plenty of times you can’t fix a problem on your own—and that’s okay! But when you need your manager’s help, make sure that A: you’ve tried a few different methods first; or B: you have a potential solution.
For example, let’s say you’ve realized another coworker is working on something really similar—too similar. You’re basically doing the same work, so it’s not just inefficient, it means the project is taking twice as long.
If you show up in your manager’s office and say just that, you seem like you’re unwilling to take initiative and can’t handle issues independently. That won’t give your boss confidence that you can step into a bigger role.
However, if you come with a few ideas, or an explanation of what you’ve attempted already, you’ll show that you’re self-sufficient.
There’s only one exception. When the problem is urgent and/or mission-critical, it’s almost always best to bring it to your manager’s attention immediately. If the building is burning down, you don’t want to waste time coming up with the most effective way to put the fire out—you just need to call 911.
Follow these two suggestions, and you’ll be well on your way to a new role.