7 Things Managers Look for When Promoting

Employees don’t get enough feedback at work and have no idea what it takes to get to the next level. In order to help employees figure out what it takes, I partnered with American Express on a new study, which is included in my new book “Promote Yourself.” As part of the study, we interviewed 1,000 managers from a variety of American companies. Employees have to work harder and be more strategic than they’ve ever been. They need to be accountable for their career, develop the right skills and use all their resources if they want to get to the next level. Here are seven things managers look for when promoting:

1. Someone who can prioritize work.

87 percent of managers say that the ability to prioritize work is the most important skill they are looking for when deciding whom to promote. In today’s world of work, we have to do more with fewer resources. You may have ten projects going on at once and you need to figure out which ones you start first based on their importance and deadlines.

2. A team player.

86 percent of managers say that teamwork skills are the most important when deciding whom to promote.  Instead of being selfish, share credit with your team. Figure out how to support their weaknesses with your strengths and make sure that everyone is on the same page. This means that you should be communicating with them regularly and making sure that everyone is on task and able to meet deadlines.

3. Be an intrapreneur.

73 percent of managers are very willing or extremely willing to support employees who want to move within the corporation but fewer than half of employees are interested in it. Always be searching for areas where your company can improve or opportunities that it can take advantage of. If you want to get noticed and get ahead, then you have to move beyond your job description and take on projects that will elevate both yourself and your manager.

4. Face time.

66% of managers say that in-person meetings are their preferred way of communicating while only 32% say email. Despite all the new technology, such as social networks and Skype, face time is still the most important way of communicating. Even if you work from home, you should try and go to the office so that your manager sees you doing work. Face time allows you to build a stronger relationship with your manager than anything you could do online.

5. A patient employee.

75% of managers say it took four years or more to become a manager at their company. A lot of employees, especially millennials, are impatient and want to be a manager after their first year on the job. The reality is that most aren’t prepared for those roles because they don’t have the experience, connections and foundation to succeed at them. If you aren’t prepared for a management role but step into it anyway, you will likely fail and that will be bad for your career.

6. Someone who has cross-functional experience.

73% of managers in our study are very willing or extremely willing to support employees who want to move within the corporation. If you have experience working in different departments, your value will increase and you will be better positioned for management and eventually, executive roles. Your network will also be expanded and you will have a better understanding how your organization functions.

7. Focus on soft skills over hard ones.

Managers view soft skills as more important than hard skills when promoting. It’s easy for managers to find employees who can get the job done but harder to find those who are good communicators, can get along well with others and have a positive attitude. Put yourself in as many social situations as you can so you force yourself to interact and better your soft skills.





Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. His new book, a New York Times best seller, is called Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press) and his previous book, Me 2.0, was a #1 international bestseller.

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