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Avoiding The 5 Mistakes That Will
Obstruct Your Career Progress
January 13, 2011 -
Assuming That Producing Strong Results Alone Will Lead to Promotion;
Trying to Do It All Yourself; and Ignoring Deeply-Rooted Perceptions of
Your Leadership Skills, Will Handicap Your Move to the Executive Suite
According to John Beeson, Author of "The Unwritten Rules."
"As much as
companies say they want to develop future leadership talent, most do a
poor job of specifying the requirements for advancement. As a result,
many managers operate under false assumptions about what's needed to get
ahead," said Beeson.
The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level (Jossey-Bass, 2010). "In this environment, those who leapfrog to a higher level realize that they need to tease out deeper feedback and make adjustments not only to how they approach their work but also how they display their skills to key decision makers." The five executive promotion killers, according to Mr. Beeson, are:
1. Assuming that
producing strong results will lead to a promotion. Too many managers
spend their career energy focusing simply on producing results in their
current job in the erroneous belief that strong performance will
necessarily get them promoted. As a result, they never get to the heart
of what will prompt decision makers to move them into higher-level
positions. Managers who just focus on displaying "non-negotiable
capabilities" like a consistent track record of performance or a strong
work ethic are unlikely to get the big promotions.
matters are the deeper, more complex factors that relate to the skills
required to succeed at higher levels," said Mr. Beeson. "But most
managers who are looking to move up don't even consider these variables
or even know they exist -- in large part they haven't received the
feedback they need."
2. Assuming you'll
get the feedback you need from your boss in your performance review.
Most annual performance reviews give people feedback on what they need
to do to improve their performance in their current job -- not what they
need to do to get ahead. Often, the person giving the review doesn't
know the criteria more senior managers use in making promotion and
placement decisions, and they often lack a good sense of how the
employee is viewed by those higher-level decision makers.
"The onus is on
aspiring executives to take the initiative and do the hard work to
extract deeper feedback," said Mr. Beeson. "Smart managers set up a
series of career conversations with their supervisor and other senior
managers to get a true sense of their companies' promotion criteria as
well as the things they need to display to breed confidence in their
ability to succeed at higher levels."
3. Having an
internal focus and not developing your external network. Hard-working
and committed managers often commit a major misstep in managing their
careers: They become pre-occupied with activities and events inside
their own company. As a result, they miss opportunities to develop their
network outside of the organization.
"Whether you're in
a market-facing role like sales, marketing or general management or in
an internal role like information technology or human resources, the
keys to your strategic and innovative thinking are much more likely to
lie outside of the company than within it," said Mr. Beeson. "Managers
who want to move forward must connect themselves with customers,
marketplace trends, new industry practices and the diverse sources of
information required to jumpstart their creative thinking. In addition,
the lack of external relationships serves as an obstacle when it comes
time to explore jobs outside the company."
4. Trying to do it
all by yourself. By definition, succeeding at the executive level
involves managing others to achieve results. Some managers fail to learn
to delegate and, as a result, get sucked into managing implementation at
too low a level of detail. Successful managers know how to build and
nurture a successful team. Without a skilled team, it becomes impossible
to devote time to executive-level activities like strategic thinking,
managing innovation and change and working with peers to get things done
across organizational boundaries.
customers and other external groups, carving out time for strategic
thinking, identifying the next big breakthrough, influencing and
persuading peers across the company -- all of these things take time,
and a strong team allows you to focus on them," said Mr. Beeson. "To
build this management strength, an aspiring executive should create and
implement a plan to continuously upgrade talent within the team and
motivate and develop people through challenging assignments."
5. Not changing deeply-rooted perceptions that may be holding you back. Rightly or wrongly, how you are perceived has a huge impact on whether or not you'll be promoted to the C-suite. Whether intentional or not, your actions over time and in the context of your organization's culture combine to create a widespread impression of your leadership skills and capabilities. However, many managers don't realize the need to change these perceptions through not only developing, but also displaying critical skills to key decision makers in their organization.
to be aware that they won't fundamentally change perceptions unless
people can see them doing something new and then share their
observations with others within the organization. In some cases a
move to a new assignment within the company may be required," said
Mr. Beeson. "Look for activities that allow you to demonstrate the
skills needed for advancement. For example, with your boss's help,
you can get named to a company-wide project which can help broaden
your perspective and showcase your skills in influencing and
"You may not be able to make the ideal job open up when you want it, but by understanding the biggest mistakes and pitfalls, you can increase your chances of being a top candidate to advance when the right opportunity to move to the executive level emerges," said Mr. Beeson.Other News Stories
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