Getting Promoted: Four Things Your Boss Wants to See

SMPS Heartland Regional Conference Keynote Presentation Preview, Posted by Hard Hat Hub, May 4, 2015

The original version of this story can be found at Hard Hat Hub’s blog. Hard Hat Hub is a careers site, dedicated to the construction, engineering and architecture industries.


Two people seemingly do the same job. One gets promoted, one doesn’t. Why? How can you make sure you’re next on the promo list? From years of working with managers at all levels, here are a few things that they’re looking for from employees:

#1:  You think like a business owner.

Do you know your company’s vision and strategic goals?  Do you know what your boss is measured on? Do you know what his/her goals are? Are your goals aligned with their goals?

Your knowledge of what’s important to the company and your ability to show how your work relates shows your boss that you’re thinking like a business owner and have their best interests in mind.

#2: You bring solutions with your problems.

When you present issues or problems to your boss, also present solution ideas or at least options with pros and cons. Management deals with problems all day long, from project and cost overruns, to personnel, to vendors and subcontractors, and they have to make quick decisions on a regular basis. If you do some of the thinking for them instead of just presenting another problem, they will appreciate it. Trust me.

#3. You build your network in the industry.

No matter what your role or level in the company, there’s no reason you can’t proactively attend industry conferences, local business associations, and professional networking groups, especially if you do so during some of your personal time. Who knows? You could help bring in new business to the company and pleasantly surprise management.

#4.  You have a career plan.

Whether your company has a formal process or not, you can take initiative to create your own plan and be the one to initiate career discussions with your manager. Here’s what you need in your plan:

o   Career aspirations and goals: This is what you want to do or be at different time periods in the future (5 years out, 12 months out, etc.) and why. Focus on the type of work you want to do and the contribution you want to make to the company as opposed to focusing on bigger titles.

o   Skills you want to build: Managers love when employees have the confidence to acknowledge what skills they’re working on. Seek feedback from your manager, peers and clients if you don’t know what you need to work on.

o   Accomplishments: Keep a running list of what you’ve accomplished every 6 months. When managers complete performance review forms, they often forget the things you may have accomplished earlier in the year. This is also a way to keep your resume current and to look for what’s missing that you want to achieve.

Bottom line, be proactive and don’t wait for someone to ask you to do things. Management wants to promote self-starters and go-getters, not order takers. Just ensure your actions are aligned with the company’s goals.


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