What you need to know about getting promoted

Regardless of your career, the question always comes up: “what should I do to get promoted?” My answer to that question is simple and is the same whether you have a traditional boss or spend all of your time working with clients: make yourself indispensable.

The tricky part isn't know what to do though. It's knowing how to do it, which is exactly what I'm going to explain here.

How does one become indispensable?

  • Be the expert in your field – build highly desired skills that few other people in your organization have.
  • Clean the proverbial “toilet bowls” – don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty doing the tasks that nobody else wants to do. These are often the opportunities that get you the visibility you need to make the jump to the next level.
  • Make your boss’ life easier – what better way to show that you’re ready for promotion to the next level than to take on your boss’ work?
  • Make your boss look good in front of his or her boss – corollary to previous bullet point…when your boss looks good, he can get promoted and bring you along. As the old saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

How does one become indispensable without completely sacrificing your personal life?

This question is a little trickier to answer but here are a few tips:

  • Work efficiently – you have to be disciplined, which means less “breaks” during the workday for office gossip, facebook stalking, checking your personal gmail and/or checking up on your 8 fantasy football teams. You have to remain focused on tasks that are going to help you achieve your goals.
  • Communicate constantly with your family – I often refer to my family as “the crew.” I view the crew as key “stakeholders” in my career. We have to be on the same page when it comes to demands of the job, financial expectations, etc. The more you communicate and the fewer surprise you have, the more likely it is for your career pursuits will be sustainable over the long-term.
  • Set boundaries and KEEP them – nobody knows what’s going to help you withstand the demands of your career better than YOU. If you need to make sure you are able to take 15 min to call home at 5pm every night then make it happen. Maintaining your boundaries that you set (for a reason) will make you a happier, more engaged worker, which ultimately increases your productivity.
  • Get creative – making your boss’ life easier requires much time but this can be done creatively. I went to business school part-time during a huge system implementation. I left the office at 5pm and went to class from 6-9pm, but every night during breaks and when I got home (and sometimes during class if things were slow…), I logged on to make sure my extracurricular endeavor was seamless to the people I worked for.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you have to do what works for you and your “crew.” You do that and everything else will fall into place.