Moving on Up: How to Ask for a Promotion

ForbesWoman 10/04/2011

Asking for a promotion ranks high on the list of life’s most anxiety-inducing activities. Putting yourself out there to higher-ups can be intimidating, and competition can be fierce, especially in the current economic climate. And, of course, what if they say no?
But—it’s also one of the most important things you can do for your career. If you want to move forward in your company or field, promotions are part of the game, and they won’t just be handed to you—you have to work (and ask!) for them.
Ready to take that next step? Here’s what to know before the big conversation.

1. Do Your Homework
The most important part of asking for a promotion is preparing ahead of time. When you make the ask, you’ll need to prove (with specifics) that you’re ready for the next step.
First, you’ll want to emphasize to your manager what you’ve brought to the table so far—it’s a good measure of both your contributions and your future potential. Make a list of all of your accomplishments to use as your talking points. Have you taken on a side project that grew into a new revenue stream? Doubled your sales goals in less than six months? Doing a great job in your position isn’t enough to make your case—you’ll need to show that you’ve gone above and beyond.
Next, identify the specific position you want, and why you’re ready to take it on. If you’re asking to become assistant manager, know what that entails and then demonstrate that you’ll be able to fulfill the position. Want to be a team leader? Give examples of how you’ve successfully managed smaller projects or groups of people, like coordinating your department’s internship program. Find concrete examples that prove that you’re the right person for the job.

2. Plan the Timing
There’s no “perfect” time to ask for a promotion, but sometimes are definitely better than others. The most straightforward time to ask is your annual (or semi-annual) review—it’s a built-in opportunity for both you and your manager to discuss how you’ve been doing and where your career is headed. (Just be sure that you’re not asking for a promotion solely because you’re up for review—you still need to demonstrate that you deserve the bump.)
Also consider your position in the company and what’s going on within your department or team. Are people around you leaving or moving up the ranks? Is your department merging with another, or repositioning itself within the company? When there’s a lot of overall change going on, it presents a great opportunity to step up and ask your boss where she sees you fitting in as the organization moves forward.
Finally, don’t be scared off by the dismal economy. Even in these tough times, smart employers understand that their employees are one of their most valuable assets, and they’ll want to retain (and reward) the best of them. You might get a smaller salary bump than people did in years past, but a promotion isn’t just about the money: It’s also about increased responsibilities, and hopefully you’ll be fiscally rewarded when the economy starts to turn around, even if you aren’t now.

3. Ask for the Meeting
If you decide to ask for a promotion when it’s not annual review time, plan ahead before you approach your manager. Send an email requesting a meeting, and make it clear that you’d like to discuss your performance and potential. You don’t want to show up to a meeting and catch your manager off guard—by giving her advance notice, she’ll have time to reflect on your performance and what the company will be able to offer you, position- and raise-wise.

4. Know Your Numbers
One of the biggest career mistakes women make is not negotiating their salary. According to a 2008 Carnegie Mellon study, men are four times more likely to negotiate a first salary than women, and 2.5 times more women than men said they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiation. That’s not a good thing!
You shouldn’t discuss numbers until you’ve actually been offered a promotion, but you should be prepared to have the conversation if it arises. So, do your research and know what you’re worth, both within the company and outside of it. Check out Pay Scale and Salary.com, and see if you can find out the norms for your industry and company, too.
Then, when negotiation talks begin, don’t sell yourself short—it doesn’t hurt to ask for too much. That’s the nature of the negotiating game: they can always offer you less than what you ask for, but they’ll never offer you more.

5. Follow Up
If you get the promotion, great! Go out and celebrate—you deserve it! But if not, know that it’s not the end of the world, and more importantly, don’t just close the conversation just yet.
Make sure you leave the meeting with an idea of what will happen down the road. If now is not a good time for the department to be offering promotions, ask your boss when you can revisit the conversation. If he or she said no based on your current qualifications, get feedback on steps you can take to gain experience and be considered for a promotion in the future.

Above all, know that if you’re in the right position, your manager will be glad that you’re looking to advance. Nobody ever gets fired for asking for a promotion (trust me!). But if you don’t ask, you’re only hurting yourself.

Intelligence Is Overrated: What You Really Need To Succeed

Keld Jensen, Contributor, Forbes Magazine

Albert Einstein’s was estimated at 160, Madonna’s is 140, and John F. Kennedy’s was only 119, but as it turns out, your IQ score pales in comparison with your EQ, MQ, and BQ scores when it comes to predicting your success and professional achievement.
IQ tests are used as an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence. A high IQ is often a prerequisite for rising to the top ranks of business today. It is necessary, but it is not adequate to predict executive competence and corporate success. By itself, a high IQ does not guarantee that you will stand out and rise above everyone else.
Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. Additionally, Nobel Prize winning Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.
With this in mind, instead of exclusively focusing on your conventional intelligence quotient, you should make an investment in strengthening your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), MQ (Moral Intelligence), and BQ (Body Intelligence). These concepts may be elusive and difficult to measure, but their significance is far greater than IQ.

Emotional Intelligence
EQ is the most well known of the three, and in brief it is about: being aware of your own feelings and those of others, regulating these feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships.
Top Tip for Improvement: First, become aware of your inner dialogue. It helps to keep a journal of what thoughts fill your mind during the day. Stress can be a huge killer of emotional intelligence, so you also need to develop healthy coping techniques that can effectively and quickly reduce stress in a volatile situation.

Moral Intelligence
MQ directly follows EQ as it deals with your integrity, responsibility, sympathy, and forgiveness. The way you treat yourself is the way other people will treat you. Keeping commitments, maintaining your integrity, and being honest are crucial to moral intelligence.
Top Tip for Improvement: Make fewer excuses and take responsibility for your actions. Avoid little white lies. Show sympathy and communicate respect to others. Practice acceptance and show tolerance of other people’s shortcomings. Forgiveness is not just about how we relate to others; it’s also how you relate to and feel about yourself.

Body Intelligence
Lastly, there is your BQ, or body intelligence, which reflects what you know about your body, how you feel about it, and take care of it. Your body is constantly telling you things; are you listening to the signals or ignoring them? Are you eating energy-giving or energy-draining foods on a daily basis? Are you getting enough rest? Do you exercise and take care of your body? It may seem like these matters are unrelated to business performance, but your body intelligence absolutely affects your work because it largely determines your feelings, thoughts, self-confidence, state of mind, and energy level.

Top Tip For Improvement: At least once a day, listen to the messages your body is sending you about your health. Actively monitor these signals instead of going on autopilot. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest are all key aspects of having a high BQ. Monitoring your weight, practicing moderation with alcohol, and making sure you have down time can dramatically benefit the functioning of your brain and the way you perform at work.

What You Really Need To Succeed
It doesn’t matter if you did not receive the best academic training from a top university. A person with less education who has fully developed their EQ, MQ, and BQ can be far more successful than a person with an impressive education who falls short in these other categories.
Yes, it is certainly good to be an intelligent, rational thinker and have a high IQ; this is an important asset. But you must realize that it is not enough. Your IQ will help you personally, but EQ, MQ, and BQ will benefit everyone around you as well. If you can master the complexities of these unique and often under-rated forms of intelligence, research tells us you will achieve greater success and be regarded as more professionally competent and capable.

Why Promoting From Within Usually Beats Hiring From Outside

Susan Adams, Forbes Staff  4/5/12

This week The Wall Street Journal wrote about an intriguing new study looking at the cost of hiring employees from the outside, versus promoting from within. The study is by Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at Wharton who focuses on patterns of work and employment. Bidwell was interested in the 30-year-old trend of workers jumping from one employer to another multiple times in their careers. Bidwell says there’s not much data on the costs of job-hopping. He suspected that employers didn’t realize how much more they were paying to bring in workers from the outside.
Indeed, Bidwell found that not only do external hires get paid more, but for their first two years on the job, they receive significantly lower marks in performance reviews. External hires are also much more likely to get laid off than are those promoted from within. Bidwell scrutinized seven years of employee data, from 2003-2009, from the U.S. investment banking unit of a financial services firm, which included information on 5,300 employees in multiple jobs, from traders and research analysts to support staff. He also examined data from another investment bank and a publishing company.
The external hires made 18% more than the internal promotes in the same jobs. In addition to scoring worse on performance reviews, external hires were 61% more likely to be fired from their new jobs than were those who had been promoted from within the firm. The external hires tended to have more education and experience than the internal hires, but Bidwell says employers don’t appreciate how important it is for workers to know the ropes of an organization. “People don’t hit the ground running on day one,” he says. “We have relationships in organizations that are key to getting work done and a set of structures and routines we need to know.” Knowing where and when to file papers, for instance, or whom to ask about approving a project, can make work much more efficient.
Employers underestimate the time it takes for workers to get up to speed, says Bidwell. After two years, the performance reviews of the external hires caught up to the internal promotes. But sometimes an employee has already moved on, or gotten laid off, before hitting that mark.
Bidwell’s study was recently published in a journal called Administrative Sciences Quarterly. After he finished the study, Bidwell says he did some further analysis, of how people in a particular unit were affected by an external hire. Because everyone had to work to bring the new hire up to speed, the performance of the whole unit declined. The silver lining for workers is that bringing in an employee from the outside also tends to raise the pay for everyone in the unit.
In his paper, Bidwell references the work of Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg, who published a well-received book two years ago about what happens to star investment analysts when they switch firms. In Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, Groysberg examined the careers of more than a thousand top analysts and found that in most cases, those who change firms suffer an immediate and lasting decline. It turns out that their strengths depend to a large extent on their former firms’ resources, networks and colleagues. There were exceptions, like when the stars moved together with their teams, or they switched to much better firms. Also exceptional women tended to do better after a switch than did men. But most top analysts performed much worse after changing jobs.
Hiring professionals should consider both Groysberg and Bidwell when deciding whether to bring in new blood. It can be tough to resist the allure of a superstar, and it’s challenging for companies to build up a pipeline of employees who are suitable for promotion. The mobile American workplace will likely only become more fluid. But managers should know that there is a cost to bringing in talent from the outside and that it pays to nurture and promote from within.