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Promotion or Perish

Yes,  you can marry the chief executive's son or daughter.  However, this is only one way you can move ahead of the competition within your company.
Dr. Kris offers some ideas.

It takes more initiative and responsibility to market yourself to the executive management team and the decision maker. How you market yourself defines the perception others have of you and how well you are doing your job. It is their perception that gets noticed on the evaluation system, not what you actually do.

An associate of mine, a senior executive, was once asked to resign. When measured objectively, he was performing brilliantly. However, according to his superior, this executive had not done well, though sales increased under my associate's management.

The managing director's view was that he did not communicate enough with management or his team members. "He also did not provide for further development and training for his team members. When asked to provide a written marketing plan, he replied that he did not need to write it out. It was in his head. He knew what he was doing. However, no-one else did."

How to get promoted ahead of your competition:

Know your 
  product/service 
  - yourself

Know your 
  customer - your 
  boss and his or 
  her colleagues

Know your 
  competition - 
  your associates 
  and peers

Product knowledge
When a customer buys your product or service, they are also buying YOU. The more insight you have into yourself and what makes you tick will always be helpful.

Think of the Ps of promotability:

Performance
Peer acceptance as a leader
Presentation of self
Problem analysis
Pressure, and grace under it
Planning
Priority setting

Performance is our ability to produce results. We need to set our own targets and decide what is acceptable. Many of us spend our lives trying to please others and waiting for their acknowledgments. Naturally, those are rare, especially if your good performance puts pressure on others. But then, you wouldn't want to be associated with a bunch of losers, would you?

By keeping our commitments to ourselves and others, we can achieve self-satisfaction. It simply means turning chances into reality. For inspiration, we might use the accomplishments of others, such as the first four minute mile and landing on the moon. These are outstanding performances, ideas others thought were impossible that became reality.

Peer acceptance as a leader
Made a chief executive at age of 36, a manager I know successfully handled the promotion and increased the profit margin of the company considerably. When asked the secret of his success, he said his goal was to provide excellent service for the client. While going up the corporate ladder, his associates and superiors would come to him for help and advice. When this happened, he helped them and let them take the credit. "It is surprising how much good a person can do, if he or she does not care who gets the credit," he said.
Presentation of self
Presentation means communication and visibility. Many think this means "apple polishing" or "pleasing others." Some individuals may even feel that to push themselves forward they have to put their associates down or suffocate new ideas.
 
As a young officer in the United States Army Reserves, I heard the following story. A general was visiting the unit to do a formal presentation. The formalities completed, he was surrounded by a group of admiring officers. A captain began to press him on various points in a manner that bordered on rudeness. Finally, the General told the captain that he was being too outspoken. The captain replied, "Sir, you didn't make General by keeping your mouth shut." The General said, "Son, that's true. However that only made me major. To get to General, it took listening and knowing when to keep my mouth firmly shut."
 
We need to find the most acceptable and effective way to express ourselves. Find out what your boss prefers so you can tell him or her about your achievements and contributions. This can be done verbally or in writing, or by e-mail.

Other ways to communicate with your boss include:
      Keeping him or her informed of projects where she or he has a particular interest
      Send copies of appropriate correspondence of memos from satisfied clients to your boss and your subordinates
      Say thank you when your staff does a specially great job

Many executives and managers fail to say thank you. Some look on subordinates as competitors, or worse, that extraordinary performance is the norm. Subordinates, no matter how aggressive, are not your competition. If they are doing a good job, there are two implications. One, is that you know how to pick the right people for your team. Second, as a manager, you are effective in getting work done and supporting your staff.
Many people with excellent ideas and abilities often have no choice but to leave their jobs because they work for insecure managers who frustrate them. These managers want to stay in safety zones and prefer to be self-serving rather than providing encouragement and support to their staff.
Problem analysis
This should go without saying, but before going to a meeting, prepare yourself thoroughly so you are properly clued up on the subject. And be on time. Amazing as it may seem, this will put you in the top 10% of managers; the remaining 80-90% are late and ill-prepared.
Knowing your boss's expectations for the meeting will allow you to structure your contribution to support the desired outcome. Your boss will appreciate the support.
The hardest work is to identify the problem before you analyse it for a solution. Part of your analysis should always show how the problem and the solution will affect your colleagues.
Handling pressure
A manager who handles deadlines and pressure is promotable. Learning to do this without stress is crucial for your health. If you can't find a healthy way to release tension, you may need a new job or at least another position. On a recent trip to Knysna, the owner of a small and excellent restaurant, told us about his experiences. He was the former boss of a major Johannesburg Company. Over the years, change had created more and more pressure and stress and this led to a serious heart attack. "It took me having a heart attack to realise my inability to handle my position without paying a severe price. This led to the decision to come to Knysna," he said. His wife and he love it there and enjoy this new experience and thriving venture. "We wish we had done this several years ago. This was the 'gentleman's way' to change my career but it nearly cost me my life," he says.
 
Or, as General Patton said, "Wars are not won by dying for your country, but by getting others to die for theirs."
Planning
Senior executives spend many hours planning a project for their companies. However, few take the time to plan their own careers. Wrong. Planning your career is a critical factor in you becoming promotable.

A recent newspaper report about Tiger Woods noted that he was a brilliant and successful golfer. However, he and his coach looked at every part of his golf game. Together, they developed and followed a new career plan to improve his level in the world rankings. Tiger Woods is now the number one golfer in the world.

We need to accept that we work in a competitive market. If we are good at what we do, and believe in ourselves, we will see the value in having a personal coach. It all depends at what level we want to play the game.

Priority setting
Very often, by resetting priorities, we can double our effectiveness and our efficiency as manager. Ask yourself if by delegating some of your tasks and projects, what else could be done with your time? Are you on a self-imposed treadmill?

Research shows that many repetitive tasks do not use a manager's time effectively. Updating and resetting your priorities will let you more than double your effectiveness. As a result, your promotability will be clear and obvious to management and the decision makers.

Know your customer
The second part of marketing yourself is to know your customer. Your customer, in this marketing plan, is your boss and the top management team.
Two critical items you need to know are
      how to disagree with your manager
      how to get the boss on your side

The first questions you may ask is, what is the point of my disagreeing with my boss? Isn't it wiser to keep my mouth shut? Isn't this the way you play the political game?

In fact, you are paid to do a job. Part of that job is to keep your boss on the right track. This is not easy. You need to have the courage of your convictions, and it helps to be right, but not to prove it in such a way that your boss feels humiliated.

Robert Townsend, of Avis Rent-a-Car, reports his anecdote in his book Up the Organisation. He had a subordinate who would send the following memo to him on appropriate occasions, "Regarding your latest pronunciamento - if you say so, it will be my hourly concern to make it so. Before sallying forth in service of this your latest cause, please note with deep affection and respect - you are full of it again." That said, it takes a special boss to appreciate and act on such candour. But in these days of bosses-as-coaches, it's the style to adopt.

Hendric Weisinger and Norman Lobsenz, the authors of Nobody's Perfect: how to give criticism and get results, suggest the following approach. When disagreeing with your manager, acknowledge that the boss is the boss. You are not claiming to be right while trying to prove he or she is wrong. Any criticism that sets up a power struggle will make your boss more intent on defending their position rather than dealing with the merits of the issue at hand.

How to get your boss on your side
Many who make it to the top have had a professional coach or mentor. This person is often a senior executive who helps the junior person along until he or she also becomes a top executive. Even entrepreneurs have a professional coach or mentor who gives them guidance. Henry Ford, for example, had a sponsor and friend in the inventor Thomas Edison. While a mere lieutenant, Dwight Eisenhower, had the Army's chief of staff as his mentor.

How do you get a senior executive to be a sponsor or mentor? Not easy. It might be best to have them hire you. After all, their success depends on their ability to pick the right people and get them to do the work.

Put this to your advantage. You might sit with your boss and personal coach to work out a charter or road map. This would describe what he or she expects of you and how you will be judged or checked. It is useful to review this with your personal coach and mentor periodically. This helps your sponsor to get involved in your career. It also allows him or her to share in your victories as well as you defeats.

Your attitude
Everyone likes a winner. Keep a winning attitude even when items or projects are not getting the desired results. Often, it is simply a question of managing perceptions. Is the glass half full or half empty?

This involves constant self-appraisal. Ask what you can do to make your boss's job easier. When you write reports, are you mindful of the person reading them? Have you written it so it is easy to read? When you have a problem, do you consider the options and present at least one solution? Do you ask for your boss's input, to show you value the additional experience? Or do you just dump it on his/her lap expecting him/her to have the answer?

Be willing to do more than the job requires and to use your initiative. It takes courage to take risks. Fortunately, bosses these days know that progress means taking risks. Bosses have become more risk-tolerant. Which is not to go wild; treat the company assets as if they are yours.

The story, possibly an urban legend, goes that a certain junior manager was packing his desk after one of his blunders had cost his employer R8 million. His boss popped his head through the door and asked what he was doing. "Packing up. Surely you don't want me after that," said the hapless junior. "And waste an R8 million education? You're going to stay here and earn it back for me," came the reply.

Know your competition
Competition is healthy. Where would Tiger Woods and Ernie Els be without international competitors? But it should be honest competition. Over the long haul in business, winning power-plays and back-stabbing does not work. As a leading industrialist once said, "Be nice to people on your way up. You may meet and need them on your way down."

• Ask the experts for help. Everyone likes to talk about their jobs. They spend at least eight hours a day doing it, after all. Besides, no-one wants you to think that what they do isn't important. By asking others for help, you can learn a lot. Remember, every successful person had to ask others for help sometime.

• Listen carefully, when we ask for advice and when as we provide it, we learn from the mistakes of others. And Confucius said the clever man learns from his own mistakes, but the wise man learns from others' mistakes.

• Be willing to lend a hand. In return those you help, will usually help you. That's right: decide! Don't ignore the unconventional. For instance, you might find it profitable to subcontract your competition to provide some elements of a project. Working together might improve the product or service to the customer. And that's your main mission - a happy/satisfied customer.

• Watch your language. When we run down our colleagues, bosses, company or a competitor, we put ourselves down in the process. It is the wise person who realises that in pointing a finger at another, there are three fingers pointing at ourselves.

... and one more thing ...
Hope that promotion is worth it when you get it.

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