By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
Some of the biggest differences in the career paths between men and women are determined by one thing--the ability to ask for what you want.
Men are more likely to negotiate starting salaries, benefits, titles, raises and yes, promotions. It starts early in their careers. Catalyst has documented MBA graduates and found that men often received up to 5K more in starting salary than female MBA graduates and they had higher initial ranks or positions than women. Men and women are also often found not to ask for more money in experiments — even when it is simply a matter of asking for more money to complete a task.
One challenge for women is that we still assume promotions will come because we do our jobs well, work hard, and go out of our way to take tough assignments. In essence if we do a good job, the promotion will follow. But it’s not that simple. Getting a promotion can also involve lobbying and positioning yourself for the opportunity.
So if you're ready to seek out a promotion, have a strategy in mind. Most employers only require an annual evaluation which sometimes means you'll only be getting formal feedback once a year. If all is on track and your boss knows that you want a promotion from the beginning of the year, this would all be just fine. Don't take that chance, however.
Set up quarterly one-to-one sessions with your boss to review your performance. Use this time to review the work you set out to do and how you achieved your targets. Make time to ask two important questions: “Am I exceeding your expectations in my current role?” and “What additional capabilities do I need to develop to assume advanced responsibilities?”
In most companies if you are not exceeding expectations then you are not ready for more responsibility and it is best to ask what you can do to stand out from the rest in your current role. Another important way to prepare for these meetings is to have your own answer to these two questions. Your boss may want to hear just whether or not you have a clear assessment of your responsibilities and your own grasp of the work load ahead.
Next, look at ways you can elevate your visibility in subtle and not so subtle ways. Volunteering to take the lead on a project is a great way to communicate that you are ready for more responsibilities. It is equally important to turn down something that you know you are not prepared to take on. Both of these actions speak to your judgment.
Another way to create visibility is in your daily communication. Many of us sign our emails with just our name or initials. It is in your best interests to have your full name, title, and phone included so that no one forgets your role.
Equally important: create a tag line for your signature: “Dedicated to Great Customer Experiences.” This may seem over the top but it is another way to keep reminding others of your brand identity. This is about getting noticed for a contribution you make in your workplace and reminding others of your dedication and success.
Last, you must ask for the promotion — and yes, be direct: "I'm glad you have such favorable feedback for me. I see my success in my current role will be magnified even further as I move up in the organization and I'd like to be promoted."
Yes, this may be bold but you’ll see where you stand with your boss and you will be able to make a decision about staying or leaving for a better opportunity.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™.