Do you think you’ve got what it takes to step into a more senior role in your organisation?
Do you feel sure you’ve got exceptional leadership skills?
Are you doing a great job in your current role?
And yet…there’s no sign of a promotion?
It’s frustrating, isn’t it? I know how hard it is to get a promotion in the third sector. The flat structures and lack of obvious career paths mean there are no guarantees you’ll be able to progress (I know I found it maddening in my third sector career). But surely there must be a few opportunities if you work hard enough?
Promotion is not about how hard you work
I work with some very talented third sector professionals, coaching them to be even more productive, effective and impactful in their roles across the sector. And I’ve noticed something really interesting. Promotion doesn’t come hand-in-hand with hard work alone.
You can work as hard as you like. You can put in long and diligent extra hours. You can deliver on your job description beautifully, but you can easily get passed over for promotions because you’re not doing the three things that make you stand out.
1. Tell your manager you’re keen to get on
My career coaching clients often think they should keep quiet about their plans, in case managers suspect they’ll be leaving soon. But I believe that’s a mistake. In my view you need to let your line-manager know you’re keen to get on (and more senior managers right up to the top). The way to do it is to ask them exactly how they think you can be even better at your job. (What senior leader wouldn’t want to hear that from their reports?) Take their advice and feedback on board, without defensiveness – and get going with making these changes.
2. Look for experience outside your team
To show you could be more senior you’ll need to have a wider understanding of the organisation and a more strategic approach than you are used to having. Shadow a colleague in a different team, volunteer to be on cross-organisational projects, find opportunities to chat with colleagues in other teams about their challenges and priorities. These will all help you to gain experience, and help bosses see your potential.
3. Show commitment to your own development
Your professional and personal development is your responsibility. So, get some coaching, find a mentor, take a short e-course in managing your time, a weekend on how to communicate more powerfully, a six-month evening course in leadership skills. There are hundreds of opportunities out there. Whatever is being offered by your HR or People Team, be proactive about getting access to what you want. It’s all about investing in yourself.
And avoid like the plague
It goes without saying that certain behaviours are 100% guaranteed not to bring that new role. Please don’t sabotage your best efforts by dissing managers or colleagues, whinging about work practices or behaving like a victim. It’s easy to do, especially if things aren’t going exactly as you’d like in your current role, but senior people will see you as negative and a problem – and they won’t even think about promoting you.
Take responsibility, be proactive, professional and upbeat and you are far more likely to be noticed for promotion.
Over to you
So, as ever I’d love to hear from you. Do you think these ideas could be useful? If you’ve been promoted, what strategies did you use that you’d like to share? Leave your comment in the ‘Reply’ section below.
If you want to take charge of your third sector career join me for a free, live webinar “Charity Career Reboot” which I’m running in September. Only a limited number of people can join in so click here to get front of queue and ensure you’re on the call.