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How To Use Your Performance Review to Get Promoted in 4 Steps – Like a Pro

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Are you intent on a promotion? Sure you are. Your Performance Review is an ideal opportunity to state your case and deliver the required changes to achieve it. Here is how to do it.

I used this approach to secure a promotion to Head of IT, managing a 60-strong team, in a growing Financial Services organization.

Your Performance Review is a process to set new objectives and review progress against them. During each Performance Appraisal, you and your appraiser (normally your manager) will look objectively at what was achieved and if you are on target. This mechanism can be adapted, used (or even hijacked) to set promotion as an objective, and agree goals that will prove you are ready and capable for it.

Your organization may have a clear structure on the competencies, skills, experience and attitudes each level in a ‘job family’ requires. (Have you asked if there is one? Ask HR for this, or maybe it is published on your intranet?) Then again, it might not – some organizations are not large enough or mature enough for this. Greater structure provides consistency and leaves less room for ‘discretion’ by decision makers (which can work for you, and against you.)

You can do this. You can get promoted. Even if there is ‘no room’ above you, this is no reason not to achieve what it takes to be awarded the promotion. It’s amazing how vacancies are created when real talent is identified, and nurtured. You are that talent.

The approach is in four steps:

  1. State your intent to be promoted: to what role and during what period. You may want promotion to a manager level within 6 months, for example. This is an important test, as you are seeking feedback that you are a) on the right path to be promoted to the role you desire, and b) the timeframe in which you want to achieve it is realistic, and c) there is a genuine opportunity that a vacancy exists, or could exist, to be promoted into. At this stage, you should also seek feedback about any specific behavioral challenges you may face. For example, if you find influencing your colleagues tough then this may be a challenge that will get in your way of promotion.
  2. Define and agree the specific end-goals: you will need to achieve your promotion with your manager. You could also use your first appraisal to assess and measure your current position against these goals objectively, by using direct feedback from your appraiser, self-assessment and 360-degree feedback from your colleagues, superiors and subordinates (if you manage any.)
  3. Set intermediate goals: set S.M.A.R.T. objectives with your manager that challenge you to build on or change the required behaviors, competencies and skills in stages. Set these throughout the whole Performance Review Period. E.g. if you have 4 appraisals throughout a year (one per quarter), agree progressively challenging objectives for each. This is your plan, endorsed by your manager. At each appraisal, review the objectives for the next period and adjust accordingly. You’re creating a situation where your manager is nurturing your development and growth towards your promotion.
  4. Deliver like hell: now you have your ultimate goal defined – your promotion; and now that you know how to get there with the agreement and support of your manager – your plan; roll up your sleeves and deliver with gusto and verve. Don’t let anything get in your way. It’s about nailing those job achievements. If you’re faced with a challenge you can’t overcome by yourself, ask for guidance from your manager. Use your One on One meetings to make course corrections and to receive coaching towards your goals. Use one of my Four Types of One on One Meeting to suit your needs.

Benefits of this approach

  • It makes the whole process as transparent as possible, reducing the possibilities of subjectivity and discretion
  • You have a clear set of goals and measures throughout your Performance Appraisal Period in order to achieve your promotion
  • It encourages your manager to nurture your development towards your promotion
  • It’s motivating!
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This post is part 1 of 15 in the series Powerful Performance Review Tactics
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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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