One of my favorite lines in the movie The Holiday (you know that great romantic holiday movie, Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black) was when the wise, older movie producer told Kate Winslet, to stop playing the supporting actress in her own life and get some gumption. I couldn't think of better advice to give! If you think about it, you are not even a supporting actress in your life, you are the leading lady! To take it a step further, you are not just the leading lady in your own life, you are also the writer and the producer. If you are living in a Lifetime movie or a Horror story then change the plot. You control the cast and the direction of the story line, so act like it! Get some gumption and take back control of the direction of your life.
I loved my work and was content in my last position but when I thought about living with gumption, it did not fit the bill. For a few years, I happily worked on high level projects and just waited for someone to notice and say "Hey we need to promote that girl before she runs off for greener pastures". Other managers mentioned that to me and offered me many other positions however my leadership stayed silent. Project after project passed and there was still no knock on my office door. If you find yourself in a similar situation, get some gumption and ask yourself and your leadership these questions:
- Is there potential for a promotion?- Sometimes the office's structure will not support growth. The work would have to grow and change for a position to move up a level. Has your position done that? There is a difference from being excellent at the level you were hired for and working at a much higher level. If you are working at a higher level, then talk to your supervisor about what options are available that might make you happier.
- Is there potential for growth here?- In my case there was a future growth opportunity however my leadership, although appreciative, never approached the discussion of development or promotion. They didn't ever bridge the discussion so I decided to hold the discussion myself. I have a great set of questions the I use to bring the discussion up in a professional way that benefits both the supervisor and me. I used it twice in my previous position to help me test the waters and gauge how my leadership felt about growth for me. The conversations went pretty well but I left feeling unsure of how they felt about me in another role. There was a chance for promotion but it didn't seem I like I was a front runner and I would have to wait a year or so. That was exactly what I need to hear so I could then choose if I wanted to wait or take the opportunities that were out there. Sometimes offices overlook their everyday champions and focus on filling the gaps. Filling gaps are an important part of the recruitment strategy but you will have way more gaps to fill if your key contributors feel neglected and leave. Don't wait and more, get some gumption and have the discussions you need to make decisions about your future.
- How much would you need to be happy at working at your current job?- Getting a few more dollars is very helpful but it is not everything. It is important for you to feel like you are getting paid enough for the work that you do to take the conversation of money off the table. Sometime a promotion is not even needed. If the office can't change the structure or level of the position, start a discussion about worth. How important is it to they to keep you working at that level? If it is important then they will negotiate your salary. I recently used a phenomenal script and was able to negotiate a much better salary. If you don't ask you'll never know. If they don't negotiate, you know that they either can't pay more or do not value your efforts as you think they should and you can decide if you should start looking for someplace that will.
- Is this where you want to be in five years?- What if they gave you a raise or promotion, is this the work you want to be doing it five years? Does that promotion take you closer toward your career path goals? When I was considering a change I had been in my specialization for over six years and I had to choose to stay a subject matter expert or branch out and develop my skills for leadership. Close your eyes and if everything went perfectly, visualize where you will be in five years? What would your commute be like? What are you wearing to the office? What are they calling you at the office? Where would you sit? Do you have a team? What role do you play there? Now open your eyes. Will this promotion get you there? Thinking about your future can be liberating. Take the time for yourself and your future, you are worth it!
- Do you have a vision for your future?- When I opened my eyes I thought I may want to be a Senior Advisor in five years. So I mapped out what it would take for me to become a Senior Advisor in five years. What types of skills would I need? Did I have them? Could I get them from my current role? Spend the time to get to know what you truly want and you will be one step closer to getting there.
- Are you ready to jump?- I knew what I needed to get to the next level so I had to prepare myself. Moving on is not as easy as just brushing up your resume. You need to get your mind right and be ready to be bold. Be ready to talk about yourself in a worthy manner and sell our skills to someone else. That takes practice! It was literally two weeks after I updated my resume that I saw my company post a position that fell within my new career map. If I had not taken the time to map out what I wanted I would have never even noticed the opportunity. I was nervous but I remembered I am full of gumption and I happily applied. I read over my resume before I went to my interview and reviewed the details, embraced all that I have accomplished in my career and reminds my self about why I am worth the promotion. Even though it seems that I didn't have all the answers, I was confident in my worth and my ability to do the job. That day I took control of my life. If they called back that was great and if not, I knew I was even more prepared to do something great! Get ready for the next step, so just in case you see your dream job pop up, you don't miss out because you were not ready.
I got my big promotion and it is all I thought it would be: exciting, difficult and challenging. This time around, I am getting paid for my hard work and genius. The best part is, that I didn't have to wait five years to do it. I just had to ask myself those simple questions.
I hope sharing these questions will help you like they did me. I look forward to hearing which one of the questions above were the most impactful to you. So leave a comment and share your opinions with other professionistas looking to get some gumption and get promoted!
Get the Look: