As a young professional, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my career path. I typically set quarterly goals with my manager and then check in periodically to see how I am working to achieve them. This process becomes especially crucial when I am working towards leveling up to a promotion.
When interviewing for a new job, we do research to get insight into how we can best deliver results and meet the expectations of the team. We don’t typically research the qualifications for the position above it. So, if we are fortunate enough to get the job, we are prepared for day one and that’s about it.
I joined Cheer Partners as a Senior Associate and was promoted after about a year to Associate Director. This was my first official promotion and I was thrilled to be recognized and moving up the ladder. The trouble is now that I had experienced what that felt like, I wanted more. I thought that if I continued on that track, I could keep moving forward and look ahead to another promotion a year from this one.
What I didn’t account for was the growing pains and learning curve I would face in truly growing. Getting promoted isn’t just about a new title or new responsibilities, it’s a shift in the way you approach your work and your team. I was really making a shift from junior employee to taking on more leadership and I didn’t leave room in my ideal schedule to weather those speedbumps.
As I came across each new obstacle, I felt more and more like I was failing. Another promotion was no longer in my sights, I wondered how I had even made it this far. I needed to reset my perspective and tap back into the headspace I had been in when I was succeeding; now informed by the learnings from the past three months.
For me, this meant asking more questions instead of trying to predict answers. It also meant working to get my tasks done as efficiently as possible and delivering as a reliable colleague to my team instead of working solely to impress leadership.
As I made this shift, I naturally began delivering far better work, and my team saw my confidence come back which showed them they could count on me. Leadership had never asked me to suddenly have all the answers, just to operate with the discretion of knowing when I need to ask for help as opposed to being offered it at every turn.
Instead of waiting for a regular check-in to apply feedback, I challenged myself to act as if I had already earned the role I was preparing for. We all bring different skillsets and experiences to the table; the inclusion of these backgrounds makes for richer and more complete work. Leadership teams are not looking for one person to have the answers. If the day comes for me to be promoted, I will use the experiences of both triumphs and failures to inform my work in a way that nobody else can. I will also learn from the experiences of my colleagues as we all try to become better professionals.
In the meantime, I strongly suggest ‘promoting yourself.’ It will only increase your ability to deliver or understand what is missing, and that confidence will not go unnoticed.