Become the Go-To-Guy (or Gal)

As I mentor younger employees or new employees within my company, they often ask, “What do I need to do to get promoted?”

Without diving into the numerous issues with that question, I usually begin in one simple place. I don’t go into the “Why do you want to be promoted?” or “What’s your motivation?” or “Are you running to another job, or away from this one?” Those could all be topics of different blog posts.

Instead, I explain to them that people who usually get the jobs they want are already doing them before they are paid for them. Often this only gets me a furrowed brow and a “What do you mean, Mr. Shamelessly?”

What I mean is that the person who is going to get that promotion will already have learned the ins and outs of it and begun literally DOING it before the opening is even announced. The person is not paid for doing these things, usually because they were not asked to do them!

I can already hear the chorus of readers bemoaning the above: they shouldn’t have to do work they aren’t compensated for. Or the ever-present, “Well, that’s not my job”. Well, tough shit, I guess. All is not fair. In fact, almost nothing is fair. You are competing against other people for this job that you want. Why would you not take the advantage if it’s there? What you’ll also find, is that as you get accustomed to doing the more complicated or different position, you not only get better at your own, but it will take you less time. Your time management skills either get better, or – more likely –  you have come to understand Parkinson’s Law (more on that another time…..)

Want some examples of what I mean? The Sales Manager at my company has to collect weekly sales numbers every Friday. He has to track down his sales people and account executives and collect these numbers, put them in a spreadsheet, and send them up to his boss. One of his young and upcoming sales people is interested in being promoted sometime in the near future. He asked me how he could get recognized as a go to person and distinguish himself when the time came. He wanted to know if his numbers would be good enough.

“Numbers only get you into the conversation. They don’t get you the job. You know how your sales numbers get collected by Mr. Sales Manager every week? You think he likes having to do that? Do you think your value would go up if, without being asked, you started collected those at lunch every Friday and sent it to him, so that he didn’t have to worry about it? Do you think the next time a bigger, more important project comes along, he will come to you or to someone else to help get it done? Whose name will end up on that project alongside his?” It took my mentee a moment, but once he understood, it all clicked into place.

That is a very, very small example that takes very, very little effort. However, that’s the point. It can have a large impact on the mindset of the person who will be promoting you one day. Start doing the jobs you aren’t paid for. You will become the Go To Gal or Go To Guy in no time.

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