Q:There's a theory that in an office environment, facetime with management is a key for successful promotions. Is that still true and how does that work now that I'm working remotely? What are some ways I can make sure that management is seeing my hard work without "seeing" it?
A: Dear Girl Just Trying to Get Promoted,
There is no doubt that facetime with management is an important component in getting that highly sought after promotion. Also, as a result of the pandemic, many of us are working remotely. So how does one stay visible to management, especially when your work has very little to do with their day to day and is likely to go unnoticed.
The virtual environment adds an additional layer of difficulty in being "seen," but my advice to deal with this problem is eerily similar to the advice I would give to someone asking this question in the before times when many of us were physically in the office. Find yourself a "champion or cheerleader."
Promoting yourself is an important and valuable skill in the professional world and is something we should all work on. However a skill that is often overlooked (and I find even more valuable) is working to craft a relationship with supervisors and those higher up on the org chart who can act as your champion or cheerleader with senior leadership.
Everyday both now and before there are meetings that you may not be privy to where all sorts of logistics, staffing, and general decisions are being discussed. If you have a supervisor or senior leader who is your cheerleader or champion they will sing your praises at appropriate moments in these meetings. They will offer up your name when promotions and year end bonuses are discussed. They will know you, and your work ethic, and they will be able to give you visibility with your orgs decision makers without you lifting a finger.
So really I think the key question needs to be: how do I get my very own senior leader, cheerleader or champion? The answer is multifaceted, so I'm going to switch to bullets and list some tried and true methods that have worked for me, below.
Do the work! In our desire to put our best foot forward we may end up spending more time talking up our past work instead of putting our heads down and doing the work in front of us. Especially when it comes to a supervisor, they will appreciate you doing your job to the best of your ability and on time.
- There are definite bonus points if you can anticipate challenges and get them out of the way before being asked.
Cultivate a mentor. Some workplaces have mentorship programs which are super helpful for facilitating this. If you work somewhere without this luxury then take the initiative to reach out to people above you in the organization. Bonus points if they work in a department you are interested in.
- Don't simply walk up to them and ask them to be your mentor, start off slow, ask for a coffee date (virtual or in person). Or try asking for their advice on a small non-controversial office problem. Get them to tell you how they got their start in the organization. Once you've built up a friendly rapport ask them to guide or mentor you. Set up regular meetings with them if you can. Don't feel bad if they can only scrap together 10 minutes to chat with you every 2 weeks or once a month, any semi-regular facetime is valuable. Don't feel discouraged if they say no, or don't want to make the time, there should be plenty of other fish in the sea.
Volunteer to do more. Add on work that may not be in your job description but will be greatly appreciated, don't do anything that will jeopardize your main work, but step up and be less of a wallflower. Do work outside of your department and field so that more people across your org know your name.
- People you step up and help (especially if you didn't have to) tend to remember you and the good work you did for them. They will likely mention your name in meetings as a hard worker and a team player. (The downside here is that you may gain a reputation as someone to go to when unwanted projects turn up) so be strategic and don't say yes to everything!
There are definitely other ways to be seen without being seen, but there is no better way to get a promotion (in my experience) then having someone else advocate on your behalf. Especially when you don't have facetime with leadership, because you are on a different floor or you are working remotely due to a pandemic.
I know this is a really tiny part of getting that hard fought promotion in an office so consider the additional more general points in this link --> The Executive Assistant’s Guide: Tips for Getting a Promotion or Raise (snacknation.com)
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