2013 is here and after the obligatory holiday indulgence we will soon be back at the desk facing another year. The New Year brings a variety of perspectives from “Groundhog Day” to excitement and anticipation as to what the year will bring. Somewhere in this train of consciousness we ponder what the world of work has in store for us in the coming year. The more ambitious among us are hoping for promotions in the coming year.

So, do you want a promotion this year? If so, here are a few thoughts as to the best way to achieve this goal.

1. Communicate

If you are looking to be promoted make it known at the appropriate time. Find out what you need to do to get to the next level and what time frame would be involved. Respect the feedback you get and focus on delivering and gaining the skills and experience required to make that next step. Be patient, if you push too hard you will come across as overly aggressive and this won’t help your cause.

2. Make sure you are ready

There is no point asking for a promotion when you don’t have the skills and capability to operate at the next level.

How was your last review? Did your manager or HR identify any development areas for you; skill gaps, competency gaps? If so, find a way to close those gaps. Many organisations have well developed competency frameworks in place which can guide you in terms of what you need to do to reach the next career milestone. Many companies make training and development resources available, and many provide “self-service” options that you can access via your intranet or e-learning platform. Don’t sit back and wait for these development opportunities to come to you, go out and take responsibility for getting the development you need to get yourself ready for that next opportunity.

3. Deliver

Obvious right? Well, not always. It is surprising the number of people we see expecting to be promoted having failed to deliver in their current roles. Ask yourself; did I perform last year, how was my review, did I meet my KPI’s? Managers usually want to see staff operating at the next level before promoting them, so you need to be operating at the level where you want to be as opposed to where you are.

In order to deliver you need to know what is expected of you. If you don’t know work it out, document it and agree it with your manager. Without quantifiable deliverables appraisals can be “fluffy” and inconclusive. If you are in sales, or a related field then deliverables tend to be concrete however outside of that they can be nebulous so it’s even more important to quantify what’s expected.

4. Build your profile

Speak up

Do you have ideas as to how to improve processes, develop new products, or to drive new revenue streams? If so, share them; let your manager and your team know. Not all ideas will be implemented however raising them demonstrates initiative and innovative flair; it shows that you take your role seriously and want to improve the business.

Get involved

If you don’t have “new ideas” you can still raise your profile in other ways; start a new initiative, get involved in the social committee, launch a new sustainability program or volunteer for a cross divisional project. There are many ways in which you can make yourself heard.

Find a mentor

A good mentor can help you to see potential career blockers, offer guidance and suggestions and help you to grow. They can also help to spend positive press through the organization about you and your accomplishments.

Act the part

Be professional at all times, dress well, be punctual and carry yourself appropriately. Your professional reputation takes a long time to build but only a short time to ruin. Don’t throw it away with indiscretion.

5. Have the right attitude

Last one, and probably the most important. Assuming you have the basic skills to do your job, attitude is what will set you apart from the pack. It is probably the number one reason people get hired, fired and promoted all rolled into one! It’s a cliché but the old philosophy of “hire for attitude, train for skill” still rings very true today.

So what sort of attitude are we looking for?

Positivity

Be positive at all times. Sadly, the complainers in some organisations have a monopoly on the office headspace and can create a toxic culture. In Singapore for example, complaining has become something of a national pastime, something people just accept as the norm. Well, here’s the thing: it’s not inspirational, it’s neither cute nor funny, and it’s really just draining. Don’t fall into the trap and complain just because everyone else is. Be the positive voice on the floor and people will listen and want to associate with you.

Hard working

Sadly, many employees have a “what can you do for me?” attitude. This generally includes high expectations and a sense of entitlement, for example: “I should be promoted as I have been here for x number of years” or “because I have completed my MBA” or “because my colleague was promoted.” The list goes on. Sorry folks, but it does not work that way. Its old fashioned and maybe boring but you really do have to perform. Work hard, over deliver, volunteer to take more on – this is what will get you noticed.

Accept feedback

In your career journey you are not always going to like the feedback that you get. Take it well, don’t argue, ask what you can do to rectify the situation and take positive action.

Finally, working hard and pursuing your career goals can be exciting and rewarding. However do remember that this is a long term path we are all on so make sure you keep everything in context. Remember you are not your job, so keep room for other passions in your life like family, friends, sports and hobbies. Have a great 2013!