So, a bit of personal news. i got promoted.
i’m happy about that, and i expect that little will actually change, since i’ve been doing the stuff at this level for a while, but i did want to underscore a few things i learned.
1) Your manager is your ally (or foe).
My current manager is amazing. People management is an art and a skill that not everyone has. It is more than just juggling tasks and filling out paperwork. There’s a lot of other skills that good managers have including marketing (basically, promotions are making a marketing plea on behalf of their reports), mentoring, coaching, and dozens of other “soft” skills you don’t just magically get when you have people assigned to you.
This was absolutely highlighted to me when i read his promotion proposal letter. Not only did it make a concise case built off of what i had been doing, but it included anonymous “pull quotes” that he had collected from peers and team members. It also included a critique section that, summed up the reasons in two pages of well balanced advice for how i can improve.
2) Promotions are proactively retroactive.
There’s a statement in the company’s Leveling Guidance document that basically says “You’re not promoted for past work, you’re promoted for work you’re going to be doing.” i can’t help but smile a bit at that because there’s a built in contradiction.
You’re not going to be given new responsibility unless you’ve demonstrated you’re responsible. Your prior work absolutely sets the stage for any promotion you’re going to get, and that’s why i spent the past eight months or so working on demonstrating the stuff i can do. i kept a record of the tasks i did. i spoke up more. i made sure that others had a clear path to do more. It wasn’t hard for me to do any of that, because it’s what i normally do, but i made sure that i wasn’t as quiet about it.
Granted, that part i hated, and i may back off the drum beat a wee bit for a while.
Still, the one driving thing is that other people have clearly failed to develop the sort of mind-reading omniscience that i also lack and making sure that folks find out about things turns out to be a good idea. Who’da thunk?
i’ll admit, i’m also taking advantage of some interesting timing that is clearly in my favor. Right now, the company i work for is very concerned about attrition. With tech, folks tend to change jobs fairly frequently, and with the pandemic and general burnout, that churn is a good deal higher than normal. So, folks at the top are very interested in keeping folk. i have some fairly big cards to play, and i absolutely played them this round. Had the market be flush with folk wanting to work here or had the company been struggling financially, i would have lost my shot and had to try again in a few years.
4) Improve the ladder
One of the things that drives me nuts is when i see someone “pull up the ladder behind them”. They do stuff to get ahead, then once they’re in a position of more authority, they sabotage others from following them. i have no idea why they do this because real success comes when you do the opposite.
Think of it this way: If more people succeed, the team (and company) succeed, right? That means that there’s more resources available, and the company is going to invest those resource where there’s clear success. If you’re the person that’s seen as the success facilitator, why wouldn’t you be considered key?
Should i have done a lot of this work earlier? Yes. i was under the assumption that “If you keep your head down and do good work you’ll be rewarded.” That’s not strictly true. You probably won’t get fired or laid off. You might get a bonus or two, but anything longer termed requires effort and focus on your part.