Get a Promotion 8: Fit In the Organization—Find a Mentor

MentoringThis continue our series on actions that can help you get a promotion within the company

The first step to getting a promotion is doing the job management wants done—and more. The second step involves fitting into the work team or organization. Fitting in includes abiding by the written and unwritten rules, the organizational culture, and getting along with co-workers. A good mentor will help you learn what you need to fit in.

Traits of a Mentor

Mentor Scout defines “A mentor is a coach, guide, tutor, facilitator, councilor and trusted advisor. A mentor is someone willing to spend his or her time and expertise to guide the development of another person.” Mentors help you fit in.

The University of Washington published What is a Mentor?,

  • “A mentor may share with a mentee (or protégé) information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling.
  • A mentor may help with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources.
  • The mentor role may change as the needs of the mentee change.
  • Some mentoring relationships are part of structured programs that have specific expectations and guidelines: others are more informal.”

How to Find and Cultivate a Mentor

The American Psychological Association lists characteristics of effective mentoring to include “the ability and willingness to

  • value the mentee as a person;
  • develop mutual trust and respect;
  • maintain confidentiality;
  • listen both to what is being said and how it is being said;
  • help the mentee solve his or her own problem, rather than give direction;
  • focus on the mentee’s development and resist the urge to produce a clone.”

Lindsey Pollack authored Seek a Mentor on Wet She advises:

  • Seek a mentor in your existing network
  • Ask a focused and informed question about something you need to learn about the organization
  • Be specific about the kind of help you want
  • Meet any way you can
  • Ask your mentor to make you accountable

Friday we will discuss how to build an internal network and use it to get a promotion

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Get a Promotion 7: Chart Your Performance & Goals

3-line graphThis continues our series exploring actions that help you get a promotion on your job

Improving performance and reporting it to management helps you get the promotions you desire. You monitor your progress more effectively if you make a chart graphing your expected, targeted, and actual performance. A chart or graph visually communicates your improvements to you, your supervisors, and others.

What Should You Chart

Each job will measure something different. We discussed metrics in a previous post. Hopefully, you identified the important metrics for your job if you followed our suggestions.

You probably need to maintain multiple charts. First, you chart the metrics for each of the following measurement criteria:

  • Productivity metrics: how much you produce
  • Efficiency metrics: how much time, money, or materials do you use for production
  • Effectiveness metrics: how well does what you accomplish its intended purpose
  • Quality metrics: the degree of excellence or shoddiness of the performance

Second, you chart:

  • What management expects you to perform in each of the areas listed above
  • Your target to exceed what management expects
  • Your actual performance for each of the metrics identified

How to Make Your Charts

Several methods of making charts exist:

  • Manual graphs: you can use graph paper to manually make a chart
  • Google Spreadsheets: you can graph your metrics for free using Google documents
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheet: you must buy MS Excel to graph performance this way

A line graph will display your metrics better than a bar or other type of chart. You create a separate graph for each metric because each graph will chart three measurements.

The details of your graph will include:

  •  Time (days, weeks, or months) along the bottom line of the graph
  • Performance metrics along the vertical or left side of the graph
    • One row (line) of the table will contain expected performance data
    • Another row (line) of the table will contain data of your goals
    • Final row (line) of the table will contain your actual data performance
  • Data labels if you wish

Wednesday we begin to explore the next step in getting a promotion—fit into the organization

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Get a Promotion 6: How to Improve Your Performance

people and puzzlesThis continues our series about actions that may help you get a promotion at work

When you begin to exceed the company’s expectations, you move toward a promotion. You must decide what you wish to improve: your productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, or quality of your work. You must also decide how you will improve your performance. Fortunately, you do not have to decide on your own. Your mentor and network of contacts within and outside the company may help you brainstorm ideas and develop your plan of action.

Incorporate Others in Developing Your Plan

Several people can help you improve your performance. They each assist you in different ways:

  • Your supervisor can help you understand why the company does things the way they do it. He or she can explain any restrictions, guidelines, or ideas for improvement
  • Your mentor can nurture you, guide you, and brainstorm ideas on how to improve within the corporate culture. Your mentor can also introduce you to others that can help you improve.
  • Your internal network of contacts can help you get your work done more efficiently and effectively. For example your contacts in,
    • Purchasing may teach you how to order your material more efficiently
    • Clerical staff can make your written materials clearer & more accurate
    • Operations can show you the better products to promote
    • Shipping can help you understand how to prepare your orders better
  • The Internet shares best practices, benchmarks, articles, and ideas for improving performance. You move forward when you spend 30 minutes 2-3 times a week studying
  • Your Vendors can help you reduce costs, find discounts, and improve work
  • Your professional or trade associations can share best practices from others doing the same work

Deciding What to Do

Your research and discussion will probably generate a multitude of ideas for improving your performance on the job. Eventually, you must select 1-3 specific actions. I suggest you use the Proact model to guide your decisions:

  • PRoblem: describe it
  • Objectives: what are they
  • Alternative actions: to consider
  • Tradeoffs: weighted to prioritize

Monday we will explore how charting expectations, goals & actual performance will help

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Get a Promotion 5: What to Improve in Your Performance

PEEQ ImprovementsThis continues our series describing actions that can get you a promotion at work

We’ve described how to get a promotion you must 1) discover exactly what they want you to do—and more, 2) identify the metrics you or they will use to measure you performance, and 3) translate the value of your improvements to dollars or percentages. Today, we examine what to improve. You begin to qualify for promotions when you improve the productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, or quality of your work or those you manage. You may focus on one area or strive to improve in all four areas. You must, however, show progress to qualify for promotions.

Improve Productivity

Productivity measures the quantity of work you do. You improve productivity by increasing the number of what you do. For example:

  • Sales representatives or clerks sell more product than they sold
  • Assembly workers make more product
  • Customer service clerks handle more calls per hour than before
  • Data entry or accounting clerks process more transactions per hour

Verify that doing more will not create problems: too much product, sell more than you can deliver, or bottleneck the next step in the process.

Improve Efficiency

Efficiency measures the resources you use to complete the task. Most business owners seek to increase efficiency.  For example:

  • Use less time, money, raw materials, equipment, facilities, and other costs. 
  • Do it faster & cheaper as measured by time or cost per unit or shortened sales cycle

Improve Effectiveness

Effectiveness measures how well your work accomplishes it’s purpose. Increasing productivity or efficiency mean little if you do not accomplish your purpose. For example:

  • Making more sales calls in less time means nothing if you did not sell anything
  • Processing accounts payables in less time means nothing if the bills don’t get paid

Improve Quality

Measures the degree of excellence of your work. For example:

  • Manufacturing measures acceptable versus rejected parts per standards
  • Accounting and clerical staff measure accuracy of work produced
  • Attorneys and judges measure how many cases are appealed or overturned

Friday we will explore how you can improve your performance to get a promotion

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Get a Promotion 4: Establish the Value of Your Contribution

business-increase-profits1This continues our series on actions that can help you get a promotion

You will earn better promotions the more you establish your value to the company. We already discussed that companies promote people who prove they: 1) can do the job management wants done, 2) fit into the team or organization, and 3) return a good investment (value). Your value increases as you connect your improved metrics to dollars.

Improvements in Work Performance Connect to Money

The importance of giving a return on investment to your employer increased in the past 15 years. Companies cannot carry employees who do not contribute profits. Currently, every employee must contribute. Those who contribute most receive the best compensation.

For example, Chief Executive Officers receive exorbitant salaries because stockholders perceive they create the billions in dividends and profits. Sales representatives  receive high commissions because they generate all the revenues. Assembly workers, especially those on production lines, receive higher wages because collective bargaining increased their perceived contribution to the company.

Formula for Establishing Value

Formula for estimating percent improvements

  1. Identify performance before you began your improvements (i.e. 10,000)
  2. Identify new performance (i.e. 12,000)
  3. Divide the difference by the original (i.e. 2,0000/10,000=20%)

Formula for estimating a dollar increase (if not obvious, like increased sales)

  1. Repeat steps 1 & 2 from above
  2. Multiply the difference by average profit per hour (i.e. 2,000 per month x $20.00=$40,000. x 12 months= $480,000 per year)

Formula for estimating cost savings

  1. Identify how long it originally took to do the tasks (i.e. 8 hours to process A/P)
  2. Identify how long it takes after improvements (i.e. 2 hours)
  3. Multiply the difference by the cost per hour (i.e. A/P clerks get paid $15.00 per hour [6x$15.00=$90.00])
  4. Multiply value by the number of transactions (i.e. 20 [$90.x20=$1,800 per week or $93,600 per year)
  5. Recognize how savings may accrue:
    • Additional transactions that can be processed assuming growing need
    • New work employees now perform they couldn’t before
    • Reduced salaries because the company does not need as workers

Wednesday we will investigate how to improve your performance

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Get a Promotion 3: Identify How They Measure Results

MetricsThis continues our series on actions that can help you get a promotion

You need to know how management measures your success to successfully complete the job they want you to do, . You cannot graph your progress to expectations and goals unless you know what to include on the graph. Most companies and industries, today, establish specific metrics for almost all jobs or tasks.

Metrics Quantify Almost All Work Today

Companies evaluate almost all jobs today based on certain metrics. Some metrics include the following:

  • Productivity per hour measures time efficiency of work
  • Cost per placement measures financial efficiency of work
  • Transactions per hour measures efficiency of cashiers and customer service agents
  • Clients serviced per month measures productivity in medicine, law, dentistry, & more
  • Months of clean and sober measures the effectiveness of addiction recovery
  • Keystrokes per hour measures clerical and data entry production

Benchmarks Compare Performance to Best Practices

The Internet and global collaboration simplified the ability for companies to share and compare benchmarks. Wikipedia defines benchmarking “Benchmarking is the process of comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests or best practices from other industries. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time and cost. In the process of benchmarking, management identifies the best firms in their industry, or in another industry where similar processes exist, and compare the results and processes of those studied (the “targets”) to one’s own results and processes. In this way, they learn how well the targets perform and, more importantly, the business processes that explain why these firms are successful.”

Most industries provide benchmark metrics for their industry. For example, education professionals can find benchmarks through Project 2061, CPU designers and manufacturers to PassMark, and child welfare workers from BenchMarksNC.

How to Discover Your Important Metrics

You may use several methods to find the metrics for your job:

  • Study benchmark research for your industry or job title
  • Contact your union, trade, business or professional association
  • Ask your mentor, network of contacts in the company, and supervisor

Monday we will discuss how to identify the value of your work to management

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Get a Promotion 2: Do the Job They Want Done—& More

Improved GraphThis continues our series on actions that will help you get a promotion

You need to impress management for them to want to promote you. Sometimes, they may want to move you out of a job if you cannot do it effectively. They will lay you off, or—if they really like you—they may try you in something more to your skills. To receive a promotion you have to do the job they want done—and then do more than they expect.

Discover What Job They Want Done

You have to know what job management wants you to do before you can do it. Unfortunately, companies sometimes fail to communicate their expectations effectively. You may need to research to find them. The following activities may help you discover their expectations:

  • Ask for, and study, the job description, noting the specific results they want
  • Talk to your mentor several times asking questions to understand their perspective
  • Talk to people in your network of contacts inside the company to gain their insights
  • Study what the company posts as results in annual reports, posters, & office memos
  • Ask your supervisor after completing the above activities

Meet Their Expectations

Once you know what they expect—you work to meet their expectations. Some specific actions will help you accomplish what they want done:

  • Create an Excel spreadsheet with graphs to monitor and track your performance
  • Include a line on your graph for each week or month for each of the following measurements
    • Each result they expect from you
    • Your actual performance on each result
  • Brainstorm ideas of what you can do to improve your performance with your mentor, network, and your supervisor
  • Make needed changes to improve your performance

Do More Than They Expect

Once you begin to meet expectations, continue your focus on improvement. Try the following:

  • Add a line to your graph showing your monthly goals to do more
  • Consult with your mentor, network, and supervisor for ideas to exceed expectations

Your continued improvement will qualify you for promotions.

Friday we will discuss how to clarify how management measures results they wish to achieve

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Get a Promotion 1: Overview

Promotion 1This begins a new series on getting a promotion from your current job to a better job

As the economy improves people who took lower paying jobs, now look to increase their income. Some will look for new jobs in new companies. Many hope promotions will provide better responsibilities and increased income. You may want a promotion or know someone that does. Either way the posts over the next few weeks will share ideas to help you get the promotion.

Do the Job They Want Done—and More

You must do the job they want done to keep your job. For a promotion you need to do more than what they expect:

  • Verify that you understand what results they want you to achieve
  • Identify how management measures your performance and the results
  • Establish the value of the results
  • Set goals to achieve the results and then exceed them
  • Investigate how to improve your performance
  • Chart expectations, targets, and actual performance

Fit Into the Work Team or Organization

Organizations establish written rules, unwritten rules, organizational behaviors, and corporate cultures. You need to prove you understand and fit into the organization for them to promote you. These steps will help you fit in:

  • Find a mentor to nurture and guide you
  • Build a network of people within the company
  • Study the policies, procedures, and guidelines for the whole company
  • Let your mentor and network teach you
  • Conform to the attendance, dress, and behavior standards

Provide a Good Return on Investment

Your company expects a good return on their investment in you. You cost them:

  • Salary
  • Matching contribution on a pension
  • Medical benefit (if any)
  • Training time at less than ideal performance
  • Facilities costs for your desk, utilities, equipment, and supplies

You need to prove that you return at least 7-20 times than the total of these costs.

Communicate Your Successes to Management

You must communicate your successes to management effectively. You hold responsibility to prove that you deserve the promotion—and that you deserve it better than anyone else.

Wednesday we will begin examining how to discover what job management wants you to do

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Problems at Work 12: How Guerilla Tactics Can Backfire

voodoo colleaguesWe present another problem at work that can lose your job or stall your career

Christianity, Buddhism, and many other religions share a version of the golden rule: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 17:2 New Living Translation).

Some people, however, perceive that taking advantage of the naïveté of others remains fair game. Not only do they consider it fair, but smart tactics They accept guerilla warfare in the workplace as a necessity to get ahead.


Guerilla Tactics in the Workplace

Guerilla tactics have existed in the workplace since before Machiavelli instructed his prince. Someone always considers them legitimate strategy for preserving an advantage over others:

  • Do exactly what the job demands, but no more
  • Work at the slowest acceptable speed
  • Pile the paperwork on others to distract and slow them down
  • Start rumors, gossip, or falsehoods about someone’s work, performance, or loyalty
  • Sabotage someone’s projects, steal their ideas, or intercept important messages
  • See they don’t receive messages or invitations to important meetings
  • Criticize, demean, or ridicule a fellow worker when others cannot witness it

These and worse practices destroy morale and reduce productivity. Some people feel that get them before they get you represents wise advise. At times, promotions and plumb assignments confirm that dirty politics remains successful practices.

What Goes Around Comes  Around

I advocate the old fashioned approach of the Golden Rule. I believe in the old adage What Goes Around Comes Around. Eventually, you cannot sustain a career built on burying the others.

I share just a few examples:

  • A management team that cleaned out more than 60% of the existing field team, lose their own jobs in 2 years
  • A director who publicly embarrassed and falsely accused his predecessors was transferred, within 2 years, to a small outpost under the same condemnation
  • A manager whose stories highlighting him as the hero in every situation was disgraced when the truth of the stories revealed he took credit for other’s work

Monday will begin a series on tips to earn the biggest raises and the best promotions

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Problems at Work 11: Saying or Writing Too Much

Blah Blah BlahWe share another problem at work that could lose your job or stall your career

Saying or writing too much raises concerns with supervisors. It occupies too much of their time listening to or reading your communications. Co-workers, managers, and others begin to avoid people who monopolize too much of their time. You do not receive prime assignments or invitations to major work teams if people want to avoid you.

Examples of Communicating Too Much and Consequences

Let me share two examples of people who failed to recognize this trait and the consequences:


Liz managed a division of a nonprofit organization. Her competence and good ideas increased her reputation with management. Unfortunately, Liz frequently sent her ideas to management in 3-6 page emails or memos. Directors and executives initially waded through the exorbitant number of words and pages. She shared a lot of good ideas. However, the length of her messages outweighed their benefit.

As a result, management ignored many of her good ideas. She never received a promotion in 15 years.


Peter, an architectural draftsman, started a new job with a prestigious firm. They appreciated the quality of his drafting and technical skills with AutoCAD. His supervisor recognized that he finished work ahead of deadlines. The supervisor did not appreciate how much of his time Peter occupied giving answers. Peter tended to talk a lot. He would take 15-20 minutes answering one question or talking to his supervisor, co-workers, and clients. He did not notice how much he talked.

One morning 3 month’s into the job, Peter’s supervisor, a human resource representative, and another member of management met with Peter and terminated his employment.

Tips to Overcome Talking Too Much

You may try several tactics to change your behavior and stop talking too much:

  • Review all written emails, messages or reports and reduce their length by half
  • Resist the urge to comment on every topic in meetings or conversations
  • Ask a colleague to signal you when you talk too long or longer than needed

.Friday we explore how backstabbing and guerilla tactics can cost you your job

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