A few weeks ago, I and another member of my military unit were coaching some newly enlisted soldiers (they were right out of high school) on promotion regulations. During the discourse, we gave the new soldiers advice on behaviors that were good to practice when they were looking to be promoted and the words “set yourself apart” had been presented to the young crew. I couldn’t help but think that the advice was good advice not just in a military setting but in a civilian setting as well.
Most people who are in today’s workforce are looking to move on up to supervisor or manager positions or perhaps to a lateral position with more responsibilities (and hopefully better pay). So how exactly do you “set yourself apart” when looking to get that promotion?
For starters, make sure your prepared to take on the new role. That can be through both formal and informal training (i.e. college education, on the job training, etc.). If your company isn’t doing right by you and offering you the training that you deserve in order to further your professional development, be proactive and take that initiative on your own; take some courses at your local community college or formulate a plan to go back to school and finish your degree if you haven’t already done so. You may even want to think about completing an advanced degree (if your time and budget allow for it). Look to join a local networking group that is related to your field of work.
If formal education isn’t an option at this time, that’s fine too. Go ahead and talk to your supervisor or direct manager and express your interest in moving up within your organization (if that is what your intentions truly are) and ask what you can work on in order to prepare yourself to take on more responsibilities
As for those of you who are already in management, learn to set yourself apart also. Make sure that you have the knowledge, and experience to keep on moving up the ladder. As a manager it’s easy to get bogged down with your day-to-day responsibilities, learn to develop your team members by delegating certain tasks to them. You’ll be able to focus on the more strategic aspects of your position, while helping to develop your subordinates (and more likely than not, keeping them engaged). A manager who shows that he can develop others will be far more valuable to an organization that one who is although proficient at what they do; but has nothing else to offer.
What are some of the ways you set yourself apart?