Along with, “How do I get a raise?” one of the most common questions that even exceptional employees ask their boss is, “What can I do to get promoted?”
For some bosses, the answer to getting promoted is obvious: Complete a specific task, gain a certain amount of experience, or simply be the next in line.
Other people, like HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah, take a different approach. Where getting promoted is concerned, Dharmesh focuses on the employee’s attitude.
His reasoning is simple. Attitude informs action. Attitude informs behavior. Attitude is the driving force behind every achievement, accomplishment, and success.
Attitude, where performance and therefore advancement is concerned, is everything.
So according to Dharmesh, if you want to get promoted:
People never accomplish anything worthwhile by themselves. That’s why great teammates make everyone around them better.
Take an unselfish basketball player: He makes his teammates better by delivering pinpoint passes in space, boxing out, setting solid screens, and rotating on defense, all the things that don’t show up in the statistics but definitely improve the performance of his teammates.
Great leaders provide the tools, training, and culture to help their employees do their jobs better and achieve their own goals.
Great companies serve their customers first; they know that by serving their customers they ultimately serve the interests of their business.
The employee who’s only in it for himself will someday be by himself. The employee in it for others may not get all the limelight, but the right people definitely notice.
Arrogant people think they know everything; humble people are always learning. Humble people ask questions. Humble people ask for help.
Humble people automatically share credit because they instinctively know that every effort, no matter how seemingly individual, is actually a team effort.
Humble people are willing to take on any job, no matter how menial, because no job is beneath them — and in the process they prove that no job is above them.
Ultimately, success is not limited by how high you can stretch but by how low you are willing to bend.
Optimists add energy; pessimists drain away energy. Optimists try more things and take more (intelligent) risks simply because they’re focused on what can go right. Pessimists never get started because they’re too busy thinking about what might go wrong.
Optimists don’t feel they need to wait — to be promoted or accepted or discovered — they feel if they work hard they can accomplish almost anything.
Best of all, optimism is infectious.
Planning is important, but too many shelves are filled with strategies that were never implemented.
The best employees develop an idea, create a strategy, set up a basic operational plan, then execute, adapt, execute, revise, execute, refine, and make incredible things happen based on what works in practice, not in theory.
Success starts with strategy but ends with execution.
Employees who advance are certainly good at planning, but they are awesome at execution.
Real leadership isn’t short-lived. Real leaders are able to consistently inspire, motivate, and make people feel better about themselves than they think they have a right to feel. Real leaders are people you follow not because you have to, but because you want to.
Other people will follow a real leader anywhere. And they’ll follow a real leader forever because she has a knack for making you feel you aren’t actually following — wherever you’re going, you feel like you’re going there together.
Creating that level of respect and trust, and that type of bond takes time. Great employees consider not just the short-term but also the long-term — and then act accordingly.
And in time, great employees are placed in positions where they can truly influence the success of their company.
The best employees are natural volunteers. They volunteer for extra tasks. They volunteer for responsibility before responsibility is delegated. They volunteer to train or mentor new employees. They offer to help people who need help — and even those who don’t.
Why is that important? Volunteering demonstrates leadership aptitude. Leaders are proactive, and proactive people don’t wait to be told what to do. They’re already doing it.
Successful employees earn promotions by working harder, just like successful businesses earn higher revenue by delivering greater value and successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by working hard well before any potential return is in sight.
Draftees expect to be asked. Draftees expect to be compensated before they will even consider doing more.
Volunteers just do it — and, in time, their careers flourish.
Self-aware people understand themselves, and that helps them understand the people around them. They are more empathetic and accepting of the weaknesses of others because they know how it feels to fail.
And they can lead with compassion and kindness because they know how it feels to be treated with disregard, disdain, and scorn. They do everything they can to help others reach their goals, because they know how it feels to fall short.
Self-aware people solve for the team, the organization, and the customer — not just for themselves.
Every organization needs self-aware people in key roles. (What is a key role? Every role.)
Things constantly change in high-growth companies. Inflexible people grow uncomfortable with too much change and consciously or unconsciously try to slow things down.
Best practices are important. Methodology is important. Guidelines, procedures, policies, all can help a business run smoothly.
But anyone can follow guidelines and procedures. Great employees are willing, even eager, to change. Great employees respond to new circumstances and challenges with excitement, not hesitation. Employees willing to adapt tend to advance more quickly because that is what every company — especially a high-growth company — needs.
Otherwise, growth becomes a thing of the past and not the future.
The best people like to teach. They don’t hoard knowledge, they spread it and share what they know.
A truant officer’s job is to make sure people show up. A teacher’s job is to make sure people learn.
Besides, truant officers tend to give “advice.” Do this. Don’t do that. Go here. Don’t go there.
A teacher gives knowledge. A teacher helps other people gain experience, wisdom, and insight. A teacher willingly and happily gives other people tools they can use.
In the process a teacher build teams.
And a teacher advances, because a true team builder is a rare and precious gem.
Now it’s your turn: How do you make promotion decisions? What criteria do you use?