008 How to get promoted -internally

So how do you go about getting promoted? There’s a difference between being promoted internally within your organization and wanting to move to a different company and being promoted externally. We will initially be discussing the first option, or internal promotion as most people are more focused on that. It’s difficult to jump from one company to a different one. When people ask me about being promoted my best recommendation is: wait until they promote you!

"Wait until they promote you!"

Most companies want to promote internally because when you hire someone from outside of your organization you don’t know anything about them. The result is that you have somebody who doesn’t know the organization. The really successful people that I know try to promote within the organization. When I say wait until you get promoted I don’t this as a passive type of waiting. It’s not complicated to get promoted if you are smart about it. First of all you have to know who is responsible for your promotion. Who is responsible for promotion in your company? The obvious answer that most people say is the organization. But it’s not “the organization” that promotes its people. The word organization is a vague word we use to avoid taking responsibility. Usually a person decided who gets promoted, but it’s not always your boss! I haven’t seen an organization in my 20 years in management where the boss is the only decision maker when it comes to promotion.

The second thing is to make sure that the people responsible for your promotion know who you are (in a positive way!) Understand what these people are looking for when they want to promote someone. This means learn what capabilities, ideas, thoughts, and knowledge they value.

"Do the job of your boss!"

The next step is relatively simple. Do the job of your boss! This is what I usually recommend: if you want to get promoted, you need to talk to your boss first. Your boss will either be supportive and give you feedback in what you need to do, or they may fall out of their chair laughing. Your boss needs to be your supporter. You cannot be promoted, even in big companies, around your boss. The best way to get the support of your boss is to ask them what you can help them in. Do not upstage them, instead assist them. That help, that assistance, goes a long way, especially when it’s time to decide who they will promote.

"How long do you wait?"

How long do you wait? The appropriate amount of time varies for different people. A reasonable amount of time including training and demonstration of capabilities is about a year. If after a year seriously, nothing happens, then you go back and speak to him again. Never blackmail your organization or boss, but make it clear that you are serious about promotion and will achieve it there or at another company. It’s your decision. That is the reason why this podcast is called Live It Lead IT.  This consists of your whole life, including your career. If you really think you’re ready to go, then do it!

Stay in lead!



So how do you go about getting promoted?

That’s a good one! A nice starting question.

Let’s give this a little shape. I see a difference between minimum, you want to get promoted internally and you want to get promoted externally.

Let’s do internal first as I think most people are more focused on that.

It’s very difficult to jump from one company to a different one.

So, internal promotion. My assumption is that you have a job, and you’re good at that job. And your boss agrees that you’re good in the job. We’re not saying  you are the genius in the job, and your boss is like, “Oh, my goodness!”

So then my recommendation is: wait until they promote you!

But there’s also a school of thought in which if I have a manager who’s doing perfectly fine and there’s another available position well… in English, we say don’t rock the boat. So why would you take that manager from that specific sector and promote him? You don’t know how well he’s going to do in a different field with a different team, and at the same time you’re going to cause an imbalance to the structure under you.

So wouldn’t it make more sense to find someone from outside of the company who already deals with that position?

And that way, at least you know that the structure underneath you is going to keep working efficiently. So what would you say to that?

Well, we are opening one can of worms after the other. So, what do I tell you for this one?

This is a ridiculously selfish thought, which I can see out there everywhere.

And the result is this: you have new manager on board in this position, whom you don’t know anything about. If this guy was a good salesman, then in the interview he just convinced you, and now you have him there.

So, this is number one. Now you have somebody who doesn’t know the organization, who doesn’t even know where the toilets are.

And you have a new best enemy, which is the guy who was looking at this position.

I don’t know any good managers who act like that. The people that I know, that are really successful try to promote within the organization.

Yes, to keep all the knowledge in the organization and then if that is not successful, then they go get fresh blood from the outside. Or they say, “Okay, I have three people who want to do this.

But guys, we got to talk. You are not there yet. I’m hiring somebody else from the outside because of this, that, or the other reason.” So play this open.

Let’s go back to the initial one, how to get promoted internally. When I say wait until you get promoted, this is not a passive type of waiting.

It’s not complicated to get promoted, if you do it smart. So smart means, first of all, who promotes you?

It’s not the organization that promotes its people. Organizations don’t exist. It’s just a fake word where we can blame somebody but and not take and avoid responsibility.

It was the organization. No it wasn’t, it was a person. So you need to know who is responsible for your promotion.

This is the first thing. That’s a good point. Usually people believe “Now, that’s my boss. That’s easy.”

I say, No. I haven’t seen an organization in all of my 20 years where the boss is the only decision maker when it comes to your to your promotion.

So meaning your direct boss above you usually has to either run it by their boss or even, you know, higher up, like a workers council or something.

And friends and family and colleagues. You know, when the colleagues say, “Dude…this Musaab guy? Horrible.” Maybe he will think twice and not promote you.

So know who’s playing in this game, or who has a stake in the game. And then second thing, make sure that these people know you.

Obviously, to say it in a good way, get close to these people. Understand what are they searching for. What are they promoting for?

So I hear this very often, especially in my IT field, “These guys say I’m the best server admin,” and they’re not getting promoted.

And I don’t need to talk to to his boss because I know nobody promotes a server admin. You just promote a leader, at least a manager.

What is the stuff? The capabilities, the ideas, the thoughts, the knowledge, and whatever evidence they want.

They want to see that this’ll be the top guy next. Position him.

So, make sure that they know you and that you know what they want.

And please, if you hate all of them, then change the company.

If I would hate you from the depth of my soul, and I know you’re my boss and you’re responsible for my promotion, and need to get close to you, you would feel that I don’t like you.

It’s difficult to hide the negative thought process or reaction that you have with somebody. Sometimes it can even do more harm than good because you show them a different side even though they have heard that you are not their biggest fan. It makes them question “Why is he acting like this?” And it makes you seem almost not trustworthy.

So do this with people that you like, and these are just, by the way, even boss or whatever level they are.

So it’s just people, you know. And if you hate all of them, then don’t expect that they promote you.

It will not happen. So first, you have got to know these people. You gotta know what they promote for.

So then the second thing is quite quite obvious: you have got to do a good job. Now it’s a bit sad, but do the job of your boss.

Can you expound on that?

Because, in a way, maybe this is opening a different can of worms again.

Wouldn’t doing the job of your boss show that you’re angling for that position in a negative way. What would you say to that?

Ah, good one! We need to make it clear.

This is what I usually recommend: if you want to get promoted, you need to talk to your boss first.

I doubt that there are many people out there who are, like, you know, arguing “Oh, he wants to get promoted and they will fire me so he gets my job.”

I doubt that if that’s the case and you want to be promoted, then you’re getting promoted regardless. So leaving is better now than in a year.

Your boss needs to know this. Usually they support this. The point is, and I’m talking about a reasonable boss, don’t tell him “I will be promoted.” Ask him! “I want to get promoted, what do you think is missing for me to get promoted?”

So more more like feedback in terms of what you can do.

I’ve heard this so many times that when the boss hears this sentence, he just sits down with a smile and says, “Dude, I thought you’d never get it.”

So if this boss has a little bit of light in the brain, he sees which of the employees has this potential.

So the boss needs to be your supporter. If your boss, when you tell him you want to be promoted, just falls out of the chair laughing…


Well, what can I say? It ain’t gonna happen. You cannot be promoted, even in big companies, around your boss. You cannot hide that you get promoted.

If he doesn’t support this, the whole organization will know that he doesn’t support this.

Your boss needs to know this. So, taking the job of your boss. This was a very good example at the beginning, which you made about why not to get somebody from the outside who did the job beforehand.

People are risk aversive, especially managers. And here you are. And you do this job, whatever it is, and you’re awesome. And you asked me, “Can I become a manager? Can I get more responsibility than others?”

I have no evidence that you have any idea of what we’re talking about just because you’re good at doing your job. Show me that you are good with  managing people.

So show me that you can do this, that you have an idea we’re talking about.

I expect you to be the first one standing when the new project comes along. The more complicated the better.

Project management is good leadership.

I loved when I was in a negative at these companies and a good employee came along and said, “Can I help you?”

This is what I mean. You’re not just taking over as a meeting begins and you’re already in the room. You’ve occupied the room. The boss comes in five minutes later, and now we just get along without you. Do not upstage them, instead assist them. And in another way, you’re making yourself first choice because of the goodwill that you build up.

And at the end of the day, as you suggest, if you speak to them and you tell them “Hey, what can I do to get promoted?” So you put that seed, you plant the thought in their head.

Then you start doing more positive things. You show them that.

Okay, I know why he’s doing it, but I also know how he’s doing it exactly.

And it’s it’s, as you said, a very positive thing. That help, that assistance, goes a long way, especially when it’s time to decide, obviously, as your direct boss.

Even if they’re not the one signing the promotion. As you said in the beginning, they’re gonna be the ones that would have the most influence in terms of “Yes, this is my go to guy.” Yeah, or no, don’t like him. Good point.

So you’re showing evidence that you’ve done this, and then he can see “Okay, now we can talk. I can see that you’re good in a obviously, because this was your job.

I can see you do this, that, and the other. And by the way, now that you do it, I can see a gap.

So, let’s sit together. And we will just train you on this particular piece of, whatever it is.” So and then he beats you up. Yes.

And then let’s see if I’ve gotten anything.

Then we are at the beginning of my first sentence.

It’s not that you asked for it, but you sit and wait. How long do you wait?

An appropriate time. That varies.

For someone that’s younger and is just starting out, they don’t mind waiting two or three years.

Someone that’s been with the company for a long time, either bringing that experience as a transfer from somewhere else or having grown with the company,

what would you say to someone that asks you “Okay, what’s my appropriate time?” Is this something you have to decide for yourself?

Okay, let’s go through this spectrum, which you opened.

Here’s this person who is eight years or something in the company.

Talking about can of worms, if this person is 12 years in the company and doing the same task and now he woke up and wants to get promoted. I’m quite skeptical.

Okay, so whatever, this person is now four years with the company is doing quite well and he wants to get promoted and he talks to me, and says “Okay, was that thought, my assumption would be within a year?”

You find out if this person is a manager or can do a management role or not. What do you want? What do you want to see after two years?

So there is nothing. Okay, so it’s only a lack off decision, usually so.

If you are there and you’re let’s say, six years there and you’re just kind of doing and helping your boss without listening to this podcast and without having any attention, and your boss is sitting there every day and smiling when you do his job, let’s see when he wakes up and comes along.

And then you woke up because you heard this podcast and then you came along and said, “Dude, I just need to get promoted,” andhe said “Sure, I know there is this position which is waiting for you. Just pack your things. And next Monday you’re there.”

Well, this this can’t happen. Yes, let’s go to the extremes.

You go to your boss and he says, ‘Yeah, I’m totally supportive,” and you’re not telling him when you want to be promoted, then I believe this is where your problems start. Make a clear statement.

If he doesn’t fall of his chair laughing then the chances aren’t there and we have a different ball game. But if he’s supportive and you ask him what is missing and there’s maybe, I don’t know, that you need to become better in presentations. I don’t care.

Then a reasonable amount of time of showing evidence that you can do it.

Plus a reasonable amount of training time brings me again to approximately a year. Okay?

If after a year seriously, nothing happens, then you go back to him. Talk to him again. “Dude, I will become promoted in next six months.”

That’s a strong power move, though. This takes a very,big ego and very high sense of self worth to walk into your superiors office and say “Hi, I will be promoted within six months.”

It can go one of two ways.

“Wow. I like the ambition. I like the toughness and it’s gonna happen, or even if he strings you along a little bit at the back of his mind or her mind.

What if they’re like “Okay? No, I don’t like that.”

Yes, I’m with you. Yeah, when you explained it, it was not as harsh as in my head. Yeah, you’re not opening the door Monday morning and saying “Dude, we gotta talk.”

Never blackmail your organization. Never blackmail your boss.

On the other hand, it is your life and your career. If after a year, he or she has a valid statement, “Is this one piece missing?

Good and you agree. And you see our care. Now I see it as well, and you need some time.” Cool.

If they say, “Okay, you are there, But please bear with us.

We need eight more months until this other organization which has your name on it is set up.”

So, you know, I think it’s not really about the time which you have to wait. It’s more about the perspective that they give you.

Circumstance. What’s going on?

If they are honest, if they’re decisive, if they don’t decide because they don’t decide. Then well, pick your luck by going there and saying, “Dude, I will be promoted, in brackets here or somewhere else.”

This is the last piece of bullet. You know, this is one step further than putting the gun on the table.

Yeah, this is just having the gun in the hand this is close to blackmail. 

Make time for yourself. Play the timeline open.

And maybe you have a hard time. Not like okay, I’m 28 now and I need to have my first management role before 30. Yes.

So, then don’t talk about the next two years.

Then talk about if you have a quite relaxed relationship with your boss.

“You know, everybody who’s successful, has been promoted before age 30, and I aim to do the same.” That’s it. Leave it there. Not pronounced, not sticking out. Just leave it there.

What if he doesn’t know how old you are? Well, he knows, and especially she knows.

And she understands what the message was.

And then people know things are important.

When you say you want to be promoted and then I don’t hear anything from you for the next three, six, or seven months.

Well, what makes me think that you are taking seriously?

So it’s your responsibility. You gotta talk to the boss every month or something. “Where are we on this track? How am I going? How was it?

Was this okay? Where do you think I can improve further on?” So keep it on the plate.

So then in this situation, I would say every organization has an opinion after a year. And not making a decision is a decision.

If your boss tells you “Yeah. I can’t decide this now because…” And then there is an explanation.

He said I can’t decide this. The word cannot means he has decided.

There is a saying that when you say something and then you put the word, “but” it nullifies everything before it.

“So I cannot decide this, but…”

Just leave it at I cannot decide this or I don’t want to decide this thing.

I’m absolutely with you. So if you if you want, it’s again, it’s your decision. That is the reason why this podcast is called Live It Lead IT. 

This consists of your whole life, including your career. So it’s your career. Do you really think you’re ready to go? You have all the signs, green, and your boss is undecided, and you stay there. Why?

Just just do something. So I think it’s a very individual decision. The number, the length of the time varies by the individual.

I have not seen a reasonable waiting period for longer than two years.

I mean, if the boss has a little bit of a brain, then he knows that after three months of working there if you have potential or not. We have this other episode about external promotion. And I would say we talk about this next week. Sure.

Thanks. Bye.