We have all heard the definition of insanity, doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. That’s how I know you don’t want to be promoted. Because, after receiving clear advice on the steps that will get you promoted, you are not taking those steps. You continue to drag yourself out of bed, eat your captain crunch, dog your commute, spend the day in email and meetings, dog the commute home, hit the gym, go out to dinner, hit the bar, play Xbox, watch sports center… or if you prefer: drag yourself out of bed, primp, drink your power shake, dog your commute, spend the day in email and meetings, dog the commute home, go for a run, make yourself a salad, watch arrested development, read Laini Tailor…These things did not get you promoted yesterday, is there any reason you think they will get you promoted today? How about tomorrow, is there any logic in that expectation? Not Next month. Nor Next year. You are not going to get promoted.
Truth is exactly what all those light and airy self help books tell you, what got you here will not get you there… If what you’ve been doing WAS going to get you there, you would already be there, because no matter where you go there you are!
What are you going to change to increase your impact, your value, your visibility? In the absence of change, things are not going to work out for you, even if they worked out in the past. That’s the pisser, if you do not change you remain static, remaining static means no promotion as that would be change. But what should you change?
The change that matters most, more focus on strategic impact. Today you are spending a huge % of your time on busy work that adds little value, you must stop. Lets look at those bad behaviors:
- Email dawn to dusk, what would happen if you didn’t answer a single email?
- Back to back meetings dawn to dusk, how many of those meetings should you have declined?
- Late arrival, seriously, you cannot show up on time, every time, even if it would get you a promotion?
- Early departure, better than arriving late but still… be known for working your fair share.
- Inconsistency, make the effort and take the time to be predictable. Inconsistency is like half runny pudding, gross.
- Lack of follow up, we all have that friend, don’t be that friend.
- Self-centeredness – this manifests itself as a lack of curiosity for the world around you so you miss seeing where you might have impact.
Given we exhibit bad behavior AND feel we should be promoted we sound like a Monty Python skit:
- Michael Palin: I would like a raise
- John Cleese: But you have not been to work in over a week?
- Michael: That is because you are not paying me enough
- John: But when you were here all you did was stand around and stare at women?
- Michael: Hard work that, having to see all those lovelies and not being able to touch any.
- John: Touch them? Are you daft man?
What are all the ridiculous bad habits to which we feel entitled?
After years of mentoring and coaching I have found employees who start their day taking the following actions add more strategic value and receive more promotions than those who don’t. I know I am far more effective when I am following this religiously…
- Clear out collection points, email, sticky notes, voice mail, scheduling action items as calendar appointments
- Triage action items from yesterday’s meetings and schedule them as calendar appointments
- Review yesterdays incomplete action items and either kill them or reschedule them on your calendar
- Review status report for items needing attention this week and schedule them as calendar appointments
- Review tomorrows calendar and schedule time to prep for meetings as calendar appointments
- Send summaries from yesterday’s meetings
- Block out time two days out for deliverables, email, and lunch
- Work on 10%, this will be the topic of another blog
- Then, complete the action items during the scheduled appointment time
That is it, the whole enchilada, I mentor people at all levels and even CEOs struggle to achieve focus. The magic of this process is that any work that takes more than 5 minutes to complete goes on your calendar. This has the natural effect of forcing you to prioritize because your calendar will be full everyday. So when a task comes in you have to find a place on your calendar, either at the end or you have to bump something else. You will find you quickly start recognizing the bull shit tasks and deprioritizing them, you will stop saying yes to everything, you will pick your partners based on value, you will recognize you are too damn busy and stop wasting your time.
If you come to me and say you want to work towards a promotion, and you don’t do these things daily then I say bull shit, you don’t want a promotion you simply want a raise without the responsibility. Hmm, sounds like you want to be in great shape but you don’t want to work out. You want the benefits with out the costs. Kind of obvious, if you are not willing to pay the costs then you must not want the benefits because they come as a single unit.