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I've been with my company about 9 months and want to be promoted to a management position. What kind of things can I do to give myself the best shot at this job.

In January we had a new COO take over running the company (CEO is a sales guy; COO is in charge of day to day ops).

Shortly after taking over, the COO re-org'ed the company and put an "Empty" management spot over the department where I work.

I've got a good resume that likely fits this position; I've done things internally to demonstrate leadership; I've increased my communication to try to make sure that I'm working on the right things and developing relationships with folks outside my department.

In March, I told the COO that I would like the management position. He said that in about 60 days (which would be May 15th) he'll do a final re-org

So between now and then I'd like to put myself in the running for that promotion.

Please give me some suggestions to help my chances!

Thanks!

akinsgre's picture

I usually assume that if no one responds to my posts, that I didn't write the post very well, and it's not clear what I'm looking for?

Is that the case, or was this just a stupid question?

I'd really appreciate some help here; I'm flying pretty blind... I don't have a direct manager here, and the management that does exist isn't particularly available. So short of speculation, I just want help to make sure I avoid making stupid mistakes.

One thing that I thought of today, addition to my current efforts to make my case that I'm a good candidate for promotion, is to put together a "portfolio" of things that I would do, and a plan for how I'd execute if I were promoted?

Does that seem like something a CxO would appreciate in deciding if one of his underlings is "management" material?

ANY response is appreciated

wendii's picture

Hello Greg

I can't speak for everybody else but my first thought seeing your post and was I hope that somebody else answers that because I really want to know the answer.

However as my therapist always says :-) you have the answer within you; if you knew the answer what would it be?

I would be tempted to have thought about what you would do in that position and be able to articulate it, although if the manager is not the type to read stuff you need to find opportunities to discuss it otherwise your hard work will just languish in a drawer.

You also need to find opportunities to do the work you would do in that position and be able to draw it to the managers attention.

I often find in the situations that people talk about stepping up a level but I've never been sure about what that means. I know my natural tendency is to write plans and reports and that that hasn't worked for me so far. If we think about how a manager is measured may be writing plans and reports is not action enough to be impressive and maybe you're in a better position than I have been in because you can take action in the space that exists above you and therefore show you're capable of filling the space. Taking on and resolving issues in that space should be a successful strategy.

As a recruiter and if you will have to interview for this position I would recommend thinking about possible interview questions and then making sure you've got the experience to answer them well. For example, have you had experience of dealing with difficult customers, difficult situations with subordinates, setting strategy, or any other topic which might come up? If not, you have two months to get that experience.

I hope in my ignorance I have been some help.

Wendii

akinsgre's picture

Thanks, so much, for taking the time to respond!

[quote="wendii"]
However as my therapist always says :-) you have the answer within you; if you knew the answer what would it be?
[/quote]
You're probably right about me having the answer... Just nervous that it's not the "right" answer.
[quote="wendii"]
...maybe you're in a better position than I have been in because you can take action in the space that exists above you and therefore show you're capable of filling the space. Taking on and resolving issues in that space should be a successful strategy.
[/quote]
That feels like really good advice. I've tried to do that. But have also felt that I can't deal with most issues directly because of my current position. Maybe enumerating those issues, and doing what I can will at least give me some experience and show that I'm engaged in the right behaviors?

Thanks again!

juliahhavener's picture

A thought (no guarantee it's a right one)...why can't you step into that space a bit? In my last position, I couldn't do certain things (those that HR is generally heavily involved in), but I could certainly be involved...and one of the biggest factors in my having three job offers to choose from [i]within my existing company[/i] was the fact that I stepped into any space I could to learn and grow and gain experience.

regas14's picture

Greg,

Like Wendii I was waiting for the "right" nswer from someone else. I've been with my organization just over one year and have just received a promotion within the last week. My new position is not the position I thought I would move into next, in some ways it's better in other ways maybe not as good - that's another story.

Like you, I recognized pretty quickly that I had some capabilities beyond the role in which I entered the company. Based on feedback I've received, here's what I think were the critical factors in my very rapid promotion (many companies prefer someone serve in their position for 18 months):

Perform your job exceptionally well. Deliver results, but not just results at any cost. Be a leader among your peers. This implies that you be the type of person and colleague your peers are willing to follow.

Excel at customer service. When your customers (internal and/or external) identify you as the person they want to go to they will become advocates for you.

Finally and most importantly build and maintain your network! Of course you think you're great, but is your skip level simply supposed to take your word for it? No volume of reports, presentations or interviews will accomplish as much as a 5 minute phone call from an esteemed colleague of your Skip's on your behalf. Build a network of people who will advocate for you. Not only will it help you identify and gain thse opportunities, when you enter a new role, your advocates can be the foundation for your next success. I really think this is more important even than being smarter, better and more professional than another candidate.

I hope that helps! These things seem to be what got me noticed and sought after within the company. It put me in a position to be presented with two opportunities within my first year and in the conversation for a couple more.

akinsgre's picture

[quote="juliahdoyle"]A thought (no guarantee it's a right one)...why can't you step into that space a bit? In my last position, I couldn't do certain things (those that HR is generally heavily involved in), but I could certainly be involved...and one of the biggest factors in my having three job offers to choose from [i]within my existing company[/i] was the fact that I stepped into any space I could to learn and grow and gain experience.[/quote]

I've been trying to do that. I've actually gotten my team to adopt a new way of managing projects that increases visibility into what we're working on (something people outside our department had mentioned to me that they wanted). Consequently, I've gotten good feedback on those changes.

I've struggled with what areas to step into next. I think that I need to widen my view though and look for other areas outside my current "silo".

Thanks for that advice.

akinsgre's picture

[quote="regas14"] Perform your job exceptionally well. Deliver results, but not just results at any cost. Be a leader among your peers. This implies that you be the type of person and colleague your peers are willing to follow.
[/quote]
Hmmm... This hits close to home. I'm a software developer. Part of the reason I'm looking for the promotion is that I'm not as good of a developer as the other folks.
[quote="regas14"]
Excel at customer service. When your customers (internal and/or external) identify you as the person they want to go to they will become advocates for you.
[/quote]
This is probably the best way for me to overcome the latter point. I probably have been focusing too much on how I do for myself (finishing my own work, and taking on new tasks) and not as much on how I can help the rest of the team.
[quote="regas14"]
Finally and most importantly build and maintain your network! Of course you think you're great, but is your skip level simply supposed to take your word for it? No volume of reports, presentations or interviews will accomplish as much as a 5 minute phone call from an esteemed colleague of your Skip's on your behalf. Build a network of people who will advocate for you. Not only will it help you identify and gain thse opportunities, when you enter a new role, your advocates can be the foundation for your next success. I really think this is more important even than being smarter, better and more professional than another candidate.
[/quote]
We're in a small company. I'd guess that excelling at Customer Service is the best way for me to build my internal network. Great Suggestion. Thanks!
[quote="regas14"]

I hope that helps! These things seem to be what got me noticed and sought after within the company. It put me in a position to be presented with two opportunities within my first year and in the conversation for a couple more.[/quote]

That helps a lot.

escuccim's picture

[quote="akinsgre"]
Hmmm... This hits close to home. I'm a software developer. Part of the reason I'm looking for the promotion is that I'm not as good of a developer as the other folks.
[/quote]

I used to be a software developer and now I run the development department at my software company. My boss, the CTO, has a policy of only allowing people who have the technical skills to do the job themselves be in any sort of management role. While I can see his reasons for this, I don't agree. One of our best programmers was promoted through happenstance to a management role and - surprise! - she is not a very good manager. I am having to pick up a lot of slack and take a lot of flack to cover her mistakes now that they have been made.

The way I hire people for management positions, given my bosses constraints, is hire them as developers and then see who takes leadership roles. Some do, some don't. The ones that do get promoted.

So given that you are a software developer I would personally try to take a leadership role within your team. That would get you promoted here.

regas14's picture

I agree that performing your job exceptionally well does not mean that you are the most proficient person in every aspect of a job. There are many skills that contribute to delivering exceptional results: technical proficiency, leadership, customer focus, time management, organization, personal growth, etc.

Apply your greatest skills in the highest leverage way and you will deliver exceptional results and it will be noticed.

Mark's picture

First off, let's all agree that "if no one responds to my posts", written within 48 hours, is a non sequitur.

My answer to situations like these is always the same: results, results, results. I say this because:

1. This is what managers look for in other managers.

2. Too many people think getting promoted to management is about climbing rather than delivering.

That said, I would recommend you prepare your resume, practice interviewing, pay special attention to accomplishments that highlight skills that you see as important in the role you want, and ask others at this new role's level what their advice is.

This is enough to keep you so busy you won't have time for anything else, and if you do this well and don't get the job it's because someone else was imminently more qualified (however the decision makers define that). And, NO ONE ELSE will be doing even this.

Mark

akinsgre's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]First off, let's all agree that "if no one responds to my posts", written within 48 hours, is a non sequitur.
[/quote]

It was actually 53 hours :wink:

Thanks, though. I was just anxious!
[quote="mahorstman"]
My answer to situations like these is always the same: results, results, results. I say this because:

1. This is what managers look for in other managers.

2. Too many people think getting promoted to management is about climbing rather than delivering.
[/quote]
I agree with both points. My only thought, is that if climbing is making my aspirations obvious to the decision makers, then I think that is valuable (less so than results, but still valuable) especially in making them clear that I want to deliver results that demonstrate my preparedness for the position and want to continue to be clear about what results are expected of me.
[quote="mahorstman"]
That said, I would recommend you prepare your resume, practice interviewing, pay special attention to accomplishments that highlight skills that you see as important in the role you want, and ask others at this new role's level what their advice is.
[/quote]
Yes, I hadn't considered "practice interviewing" because I don't believe that I'll have to interview for this. But I've already been asked interview-like questions, and didn't consider the fact that those are, in a way, mini-interviews.
[quote="mahorstman"]
This is enough to keep you so busy you won't have time for anything else, and if you do this well and don't get the job it's because someone else was imminently more qualified (however the decision makers define that). And, NO ONE ELSE will be doing even this.

Mark[/quote]

themacstack's picture

One other thing that seems to be missing a bit. Senior Managers want good people who lead good teams.

Remember that as a Manager what you do on a daily basis will likely change from what you are doing now. Perhaps less time spent on the technical aspects and more on the personnel aspects of running a team.

Our job as Managers is to train and develop our replacement (assuming we all move up). Begin to position yourself as a person who understands that your job involves developing others as much as it does delivering results.

rikt's picture

I didn't catch what type of relationship you might have with the COO. It seems like he is pretty hands-off and you two don't interact often. If you have the confidence and agressiveness in you, ask them point blank; "What type of manager do you want in this position? What exact will you expect of them?" If you lead with questions, be ready to do an interview on the spot. Even if it doesn't end up in an interview situation, you will gain valuable insight in to what the COO wants for this position, and frankly wants to potentially see in you.

Typically, if I am approached like that for a manager's position I might have open, I hit on areas, where I know they struggle while I am outlining the position.

Finally, make sure it is what you are want, many, many technical people end up in management and soon are very unhappy and long for the old days of 20 hour code days.

akinsgre's picture

Thanks again, to everyone, for the great advice.

I have an interview for this position next week, and I'd like some help with practice interviewing.

I've been working through the advice that you all have given me so far, but one thing I haven't gotten enough chances to do is "Practice Interviewing". A couple people in my network have helped me and I've been looking through a lot of "Interview Example Questions" to help clarify what my responses might be.

However, I wonder if anyone on this list would be willing to do some practice interviewing over the phone and give me feedback on areas that might cause me problems.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!