Personal Finance

Want a promotion? Have a learning mindset

  • Getting better: Ken Coleman shares advice on how to shine at the workplace and put yourself in a good position for promotion (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

Youíre the kind of person who has their eyes on the summit. You long for more responsibility, influence, and more fulfilment in your career.

But your leader isnít going to just hand you a promotion for taking up space at a desk. Youíve got to earn it. Youíve got to prove youíre ready for the next step by knocking it out of the park in your current position. How do you do that? How do you demonstrate youíre worthy of moving up?

Know your role

Be crystal clear of your responsibilities. You need to know exactly whatís expected from you. Hopefully, youíve been given a job description with details. Whether you have that document or not, ask your leader one simple question: what does it look like for me to win in this role? Then, go do it.

Be a good listener, and ask for feedback. You donít have to wait for an annual evaluation to find out how youíre doing. Asking for your leaderís opinion regularly will develop rapport, and give you valuable information for improving your performance.

When it comes to receiving feedback, shut your mouth and listen. You may have to eat a few slices of humble pie, but nobodyís perfect. Plus, itís the only way to get better.

Accept your role

Accepting your role is all about developing your attitude. Do you bring a creative spark to everything you do? Do you maintain a positive outlook? Thereís no next if you donít crush the now, so develop an attitude of gratitude and adopt some important habits.

First, hone your craft. Be the best you can be, no matter what you do. You should know your craft backward and forward, and find opportunities to practice it every day. Also, take initiative and look for problems that can be solved. If you see something, say something.

Finally, be collaborative. Make connections with your team-mates and with professionals in your area. Donít hesitate to reach out across departments and disciplines. This will help lay a foundation for developing relationships with people who will help you grow.

Maximise your role

Self-discovery is a key component of maximising your role. You must know who you are and what youíre capable of. To earn a promotion, you must go above and beyond your current responsibilities.

Along those lines, improving your skill set is a lifelong endeavour. Develop daily habits that will enable you to grow. Start thinking strategically about the big picture of your team or department, and make ideas go from good to great.

And donít forget to value your team-mates. Do what you can to help them win. Practically speaking, this means being present in your organisation. Donít eat lunch in the break room alone every day. Go to lunch, grab coffee, and get to know your coworkers. When you look out for the best interests of your team-mates, youíre advancing the good of the entire organisation. As you support and encourage other players, doors of opportunity will open.

Perhaps most importantly, donít forget to set specific goals for yourself. Write out your goals clearly, and put them on a timeline so you know when and how to execute them. Talk to your leader about your desire to grow and earn more responsibility, too. Ask what qualities, certifications, or additional skills you should have in order to reach your destination.

Develop your character

Focus on becoming a person with integrity who deserves more responsibility. Be honourable, and treat people the way you want to be treated. Respect their ideas and needs. Reliability is a key trait, also. Being reliable is about building trust over a consistent period of time.

People should smile when they cross paths with you at the coffee station or walking down the hall, so be likeable. No oneís in a great mood all the time, and this isnít an expectation for perfection. Still, you must do you best to bring joy to others.

Finally, be coachable. When a new opportunity, piece of technology, or policy is put on your plate, soak it up like a sponge. And donít get defensive if your leader notices an area that needs improvement. Choose humility, and embrace the opportunity to learn.

I firmly believe that if you follow these four steps, a promotion will find you.

ē Ken Coleman is a No 1 national bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio host of The Ken Coleman Show. Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality. The Ken Coleman Show is a caller-driven career show that helps listeners who are stuck in a job they hate or searching for something more out of their career. His second book, The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to the Career You Love, released May 2019. Connect with Ken on Twitter and Instagram at @KenColeman and online at or