Second only to layoffs, promotions often stir gossip and disagreements in many workplaces. From those who feel that they are better qualified for the position to others who just jump into any opportunity to manipulate office politics, the controversy can leave little room for reason and accusations of favouritism easily can surface.
In many cases, a choice that may not make sense for many is actually based on specific criteria, which are not necessarily related to considerations of seniority, education and technical credentials. Instead, decisionmakers may consider the candidates’ existing and potential skills that can make overall efficient leaders — in addition to having a good set of technical abilities. That is why if you are interested in positioning yourself for advancement, you must establish yourself as the best candidate not only by doing your job well, but also by excelling at the various parameters that may be used for selection.
Although these requirements may change from one job to another and one employer to another, there are general areas that we are likely to influence the decision. Take a look at these five areas, in particular:
Employers are after skills like communication and social intelligence that help a person manage others and efficiently work within a team without frequent conflicts. If you’re a person who is likeable, often comes up with solutions rather than with problems, and is able to bring everyone’s views aligned in a productive way, you likely will be perceived as having competent soft skills. Many argue whether or not these skills are more importance than technical (hard) skills. In reality, a leadership position requires a combination of both. With decent technical skills you can win the respect and trust of coworkers and subordinates. Add your people skills you will be able to influence others to go an extra mile for the goals that are agreed on — this is leadership.
This is one of the most underestimated values by workers despite its importance for employers. With businesses having to adjust their operations to market changes, employers would want to make sure that their staff won’t be an obstacle in introducing change. Flexibility goes beyond the immediate personal interaction to the ability to adopt new business models, and to incentivise and inspire staff to embrace change. Those who are known to maintain set-in-stone work procedures’ and personal rigidity are unlikely to be picked to lead in today’s businesses.
Many may be surprised at a management decision to promote someone who may be perceived to be less experienced than others. Although this situation is often ripe for speculation and office politics, the secret can be as simple as the person’s commitment and loyalty to the employer — assuming there is no actual favouritism. In every new job there is a learning curve where the employer invests in a new hire and hopes to reap the benefits once this person is established. A promotion starts a new cycle of learning and employers logically will pick to invest in those who seem to be committed and sticking around for the long haul.
People who are capable of being professional while maintaining a positive, friendly attitude can provide a consistent image of professionalism. This attitude shouldn’t be confused with being distant or impersonal; it is only a matter of trying to keep personal matters out of the picture and focusing on work as much as possible. It is all about making the right impression that you take business seriously not only with your supervisors, but also with your coworkers.
A promotion, like hiring for a new job, can go to someone who demonstrates the potential to excel rather than someone who may just do the job tasks at the minimum required. This choice often is made when there is room for improvement and the employer is looking at the change as an opportunity to bring in a new blood and energy. The replacement in this case can be — and not necessarily — an outsider rather than the person who served as deputy or senior subordinate. The choice understandably can be upsetting for those who thought that they were next in line, but it is also a reminder that every team member always should consider ways to demonstrate their individual abilities that go well beyond getting the job done.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently an editor based in Seattle.