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The Ask That Led To The Promotion



Have you ever wondered "what do I need to do to get that job?" or “how can I get on that project?”. Well, a recipe for success is to ask for it and back up your ask with evidence of your capability to deliver. Let me share my story.


Waiting for It


I had my eye on a role and been waiting for months for a promotion. Convinced my good work was evident enough to carry me through to the next phase in my career. But then, I got tired of waiting, and decided to take the matter into my hands. I walked up to my manager and simply asked him for the role!


To my surprise, he said the scope for the role was still primitive. He asked me to take time to think about the direction I wanted to take my career, then write-up a job description for where I see this role going. If I did that, he said, the job was mine!


This may seem questionable behavior to some. Is my manager asking me to help him draft a job description? Shouldn’t that be his responsibility? What if he did not deliver his end of the deal?


Instead of doubts, I decided to approach the task positively and think of potential doors it could open for me.


What I Did


Armed with his promise, I started my personal project to take control of my career. I looked at my past achievements (chronologically documented) together with all “thank-you” notes I received. I researched the various versions of the role as well as potential career trajectory.


After documenting all the facts, I let my mind wonder and think about possibilities for the role. Things that had not been done, and would make nice additions. Next, I did a deep dive into my knowledge gaps. I researched potential development options to close those gaps, how much they cost and how long they take.


I mapped the role to the company strategy. I even thought of future expansions and potential resources the role might need to reach excellence. It's impact and relationship with other roles, departments and stakeholders.


When I went back to my manager, I had a complete plan for how to make the role I was after key to the success of the organization. A mere one month later, I got the promotion I was seeking.


How to Ask


There is a difference between demanding for something and asking for something. The demand is never a good move, it can come across as arrogance or a sign of laziness. A good ask, supported with evidence and vision for the ask is the way to go.


The point of the story is to think seriously about the impact you want to create and go from there. If you are not ready now, ask for the support you need to be ready for the next phase in your career. Never be afraid of aiming high and exploring opportunities outside your current comfort zone.


The Role of Organizational Culture


It goes without saying, the leadership of the organization can either create or kill a culture where people seek excellence. I would not have had this experience had I worked for an organization that operated with favoritism or valued nepotism.


If you find yourself working in such environments, my advice to you is to leave as soon as you are able to. You deserve better and owe it to yourself.


Despite advocacy for good leadership, some organizations can only learn the hard way. They have to experience the pain of losing good employees, or inability to recruit, to change their behavior. I pray they see the light and make a change, but you do not need to be their guinea pig.

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