The 5 Career Management Mistakes that will KILL Your Promotion

A shocking 70% of managers worldwide never reach their full potential. While there are endless reasons for such factors affecting career development, most managers seem to make 5 common mistakes. Here are the top 5 mistakes made by managers who fail to advance in their career. Commit these and ensure that you’ll fail, too.

1. Keep doing nothing.

One of the most damaging factors affecting career development is doing nothing. First of all, it’s easier to sit back and let things take their course. But you might actually think that by doing nothing, you are doing the right thing. For example, you might think you’re demonstrating trust in the “natural” promotion process in your organization – or showing respect to your managers, who obviously know better.

Remedy: remove the wool from your eyes and start getting into active mode.

2. Drown in honey.

I’ve been using this colorful expression for decades to describe the situation in which managers find themselves paralyzed by the compliments they receive from their bosses. The sticky, sweet, gold stuff is poured on you so often in the form of positive feedback that you begin to lose sight of what really good performance is – so much that you inevitably “lose your edge” and are objectively no longer suitable for promotion.

Remedy: remember that compliments are good, but don’t let them go to your head.

              Results are what matter.

3. Be like everyone else.

There’s an old Japanese saying: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” Your organization might value this proverb, especially in the age of company credos, corporate values, cross-functional teamwork, and standardization. However, if you hammer yourself down by downplaying what makes you unique, there won’t be any reason for you to be promoted over others.

Remedy: be a team player, but don’t miss opportunities to show what you’ve got.

4. Wing internal interviews.

You’ve been eyeing an open position in your organization and are sure that you’re the perfect candidate. You even know the decisionmakers well and are fairly certain that they are familiar with your qualifications. You certainly have the job in the bag, at least compared to any outside candidates. They’re brought in just for formality, right? Wrong. Your company is really looking for the best candidate possible, which, surprise, may not be you. Not if you don’t prepare. As strange as it seems, internal interviewing can be more grueling than interviewing for positions outside of your organization, especially because so much is already known about you. Failing to prepare yourself for an internal interview will surely lead to disappointment.

Remedy: keep in mind that being promoted isn’t a given; competition can be tougher than applying for a position in another organization.

5. Avoid the mirror.

When you fail to look into the mirror, you never see yourself. More importantly, you don’t see how others perceive you. A good look into the mirror will always reveal your strengths and weaknesses as seen by others. A good look into the mirror will help you understand the differences between how you want to be seen and how you are really seen – thus highlighting the things that need to be changed. Keeping yourself away from the mirror is a surefire way to remain stagnant in your career.

Remedy: acknowledge that when it comes to promotion, it doesn’t matter how you see yourself – only how others see you.

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.


3 things you must know to sustain career success

A whopping 72% of successful managers don’t achieve their career dreams – despite all of what they have going for them!

And here’s the kicker: it’s because of their success that they don’t get promoted!

Sounds strange? I’ll explain why.

But first a few words about how to measure success at work. Despite what we might think about being successful, one thing is for sure: success depends on circumstances. What makes you successful in one situation might make you unsuccessful in another. So a successful manager is really just enjoying a temporary place in the limelight – which will fade away at some point.

Here’s an example:

Let’s take Fred, a super-successful manager when it comes to motivating and mobilizing teams. He’s not only effective at bringing folks together, he’s one of the most admired managers as well – so much that his team is willing to go all out for him at a moment’s notice. By all measures of how to measure success at work, a manager like Fred would be one of the first considered for promotion right?

Not so fast. You know the saying: “Every coin has two sides”. On one hand, Fred is a wizard at handling teams. But on the other, spending too much time on nurturing teams often leads to a slowdown in decisionmaking – and even indecisiveness.

The moral of the lesson here is as follows: success is always determined under a specific set of circumstances. Change the role (or the expectations of the role) and you change the definition of “success”. Most managers are always surprised by this.

But back to Frank. While Frank was sure he was the next one up for promotion, he found himself being passed up. Beyond the disappointment and frustration Frank surely felt, there’s a huge question mark: Why? How can such a successful manager such as Frank, who’s even emulated by others, not have gotten the promotion?

This is one of the first questions that many managers have asked me over the years. And the next thing they say to me is usually something to the tune of, “I’m successful on almost all measures and highly valued by my company. Why didn’t I get that last promotion?” What went wrong?

Knowing what went wrong can certainly help you understand what you need to do to avoid this next time – but mostly will deepen your understanding of what it means to be a successful manager.

Like everyone, you were taught that to get ahead in your career, you’ve got to be good – or even excellent – at what you do. And so this is what you’ve been working towards your whole career – paving the path to the top, bit-by-bit. It’s important to note that no one steered you wrong on this one. Excelling at your job is essential for becoming the type of manager your organization would consider for future promotions. But, as we’ve seen with Fred, it’s still not enough…Here are the top 3 reasons why:

1.    What you’ve got is not necessarily what it takes.

In your current role, you haven’t actively developed the competencies needed for a more senior role.  And it doesn’t end here. Sometimes the skills and talents you’ve been growing all along are the very ones that might be blocking your success.

2.    You’re walking the plank.

You think that the way to get ahead is by excelling at your current position, rather than developing new competencies. So you harness all of your motivation and march forward, without taking into consideration that you should be looking left, right, or even ahead!

3. You haven’t been listening.

All caught up in the aura of your achievements, you’ve been ignoring the bits of constructive feedback you’ve been receiving all along the way. If you think back, you’ll note that these valuable tidbits could’ve helped you get that next promotion.

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, it’s not the end of the world (or your career). What’s important is that from now on, you work on preventing these situation so that you can achieve the promotion you deserve.

In the next few posts, I’ll be showing you exactly how to take your career destiny into your own hands.

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.


4 things you must know before pursuing your next opportunity


There’s nothing worse than missing the boat when you want to pursue opportunities at work. Once they’re gone, they’re gone…but you can prevent this.

When pursuing your next tempting career advancement opportunity, the most important thing to remember to get ahead in your career is that you should take charge of properly preparing yourself. No one else is going to do it for you – not your boss, not your subordinates…and especially not those competing for the same opportunity.

Preparation for seizing a new opportunity requires research. Just as a product or service manager conducts thorough market research, an ambitious employee looking for career advancement diligently researches in anticipation of that next opportunity. This is one of the biggest factors affecting career development.

Below are the 4 things you must find out before pursuing your next opportunity. This is baseline information. Obviously, you’ll need to find out more according to the actual opportunity. (In my next three posts, I’ll be addressing some specific opportunities.)

Like in market research, some of the research will be secondary – also known as “desk research” – and will be done by looking, for example, at your company’s website. Other research will be primary – or “field research” and will require you to reach out to other employees to get their take on different issues.

But before going on, it is critical that you record all of your findings. This way, you’ll be sure to cover all of the groundwork and use the information to the fullest. (See my first post about Rob, who realized the importance of self-discovery.)

1.    What are the qualifications and experience needed for that next opportunity? How would you measure the gap between what’s needed and what you can offer?

2.    What are the formal and informal expectations of the position? What would be the difference between what’s expected and what you can bring to the table? To answer this second question, fostering your relationship with your manager could help.

3.    What was positive about the performance of the last person who held this job? What should have been improved? What then should you emphasize with regard to the advantages that you can bring to the job?

4.    How are you perceived by others? How do they see your strengths and weaknesses? In what ways can you use this information to “position” yourself strategically for that next opportunity?

If we had to summarize the most important thing from all of these four points, it would be to identify the gaps between what would seem ideal for the new opportunity and what you have in you already and then to do two things: (1) minimize and (2) capitalize. I’ll explain.

Minimize the gaps. While you might not completely fit one of the ideal qualifications, perhaps you have something similar to offer that could fit the bill just the same. For example, an opportunity might require sales experience with large retailers, whereas you have mostly worked with small mom and pops. You could highlight that though the sizes are different, you’re well versed at helping retailers manage their shelf space, which is actually a huge issue with large retailers as well. Here, you minimize the gap by showing how your existing expertise is transferable and can be of benefit to the new opportunity.

Capitalize on the gaps. Here, you want to position what might seem like a shortcoming as an advantage. For example, if a job requires eight years of experience and you only have two, perhaps you could emphasize that you’d be bringing a more open mind to the job than someone with more experience.

Remember that the more serious you are about your information gathering and “gap analysis,” the better positioned you’ll be for your interview. Don’t sell yourself short by taking shortcuts.

In my next three posts, I’ll be providing guidance on competing for opportunities with internal and external candidates as well as what to do when you’re the external candidate.

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.


Planning your next promotion? Here’s how to handle your boss.

You’re a superstar. You’ve met or exceeded your department’s goals. You’ve won over the trust and support of your team. You’ve even come up with innovative ways of getting things done. All systems go for promotion towards tempting career advancement, right? Well, not quite. There’s still one important thing to deal with: your boss.

Your boss, no matter how supportive he or she has been, could actually be presenting the most difficult barrier for your to cross on your way to the corner office. Bosses are funny. On one hand, they are there to manage and develop you. On the other hand, they have their own agenda. And your promotion could be a problem for them, unless managed effectively.

In this update, I’ll let you in on the four main reasons why your boss might actually prevent your promotion.  Then I’ll focus on one of the them, with advice on how to overcome it. In future updates, I’ll address the other three. it is important tempting career advancement,

So there are four main reasons why your boss might not want you to be promoted:

The first one is competition. Your boss has passed on their hard-earned know-how to you and now you actually might present a threat to them. Industries are full of cases in which middle managers have taken over departments formerly run by their boss.

The second reason is that your boss simply doesn’t want to let you go. You’ve been trained to deal with every nut and bolt in your department and now you’re going to leave your boss high and dry…while you pursue your corporate development career path.

Third, your boss might honestly think you’re not qualified enough. Though this might just be their opinion, it’s an important one…and one that might very well hold water with key decision makers in your organization.

Finally, you might have caught your boss by surprise. Your request for promotion was completely unexpected. It had just never seemed in the cards. Let’s look at this reason a little more deeply.

You don’t want to surprise your boss, so let it be known from day one that you intend to be promoted. This doesn’t mean that you should come into your first day at work, declaring that you’d like to be the CEO some day. But it doesn’t mean that a fear of rocking the boat should prevent you from being honest and straightforward about your career aspirations. It’s all a matter of balance and timing.

For example, if someone in your organization gets promoted, take the time to congratulate them and to let your boss know that one day you’d like to apply for a more senior position. Hopefully, this would allow you to test the waters with your boss regarding his or her take on the issue. You might hear responses such as, “you have to work hard” or “you have to deserve it”. Don’t take what your boss says too hard or try to prove to them that you are indeed working hard and deserving. At this very early stage, you’ve accomplished enough by just letting your boss know that you’d like to work towards getting a promotion. While it doesn’t seem like much, this kind of declaration is important, as it is the first hint in a series of hints that will prevent your boss from being surprised by your desire to be promoted. And by the way, don’t skip this stage because you’d already mentioned career advancement in your interview. That’s been long forgotten by now. Besides, everyone says this.

Once you’ve proven yourself to the company for about two years, then it’s time to have an open discussion with your boss. If you can, try to plan a possible promotion about six months in advance, so as to allow time for your boss to digest your desire and provide you with feedback. Mention a specific position to your boss and ask for advice on how to apply for it. Listen carefully to your boss’s reaction, as you’ll need to plan your next steps according to it.

If your boss is for your promotion, you’ll get a great deal of advice on how to go about applying for the position…and you’ll be happily on your way. On the other hand, your boss might answer with a non-committal response, such as “we’ll see” or “we’ve got plenty of time.”  While this might leave you disappointed, it’s still very valuable to you in your journey towards promotion.

Naturally, this kind of response means that your boss isn’t really for promoting you. However, it’s good that you received a non-committal answer, rather than all kinds silly excuses or empty promises about “next time”. At least you know what their stance is. And you also know that you’ll need to curry support from other decision makers in your company.

A while later, another possible promotion opportunity will most likely arise. Notwithstanding your boss’s last lukewarm response, schedule a meeting in order to express your interest in the opportunity and to seek your boss’s support in applying for the promotion. Be sure to mention that time that has passed and how much you’ve learned from your boss’s mentoring, which has led to your improvement. Emphasize that your boss’s opinion is very valuable to you and that any advice that can be provided would be highly appreciated. One word of caution: show confidence in your decision to apply for the promotion. Do not waver or ask your boss if it’s a good idea. This will result in unfruitful dialogue, possibly derailing your intentions for promotion. (By the way, if you’re not sure yourself, why not download my ebook, Time for Promotion for FREE (an $8.99 value).

After you’ve made this request, sit back and listen very carefully to your boss’s response. You’ll find out your boss’s stance as well as what they’re willing to do, through both formal and informal corporate channels.

Of course, the best thing would be for your boss to express complete support and to help you apply for the promotion. But that’s not always going to happen. That doesn’t mean give up; it just means that you’ll be continuing without your boss’s backing.

This is the time to tap into the support you’ve been building up with other company decision makers. Sometimes, their vote will be enough for you to get promoted. Other times, they might pressure your boss (directly or indirectly) into having a change of heart.

So as we’ve seen, it’s important to let your boss know of your intentions to be promoted from the moment you begin your new job. In most cases, if you’re both on the same page, then you’ll be supported in your quest for promotion. In more difficult circumstances, your intention to be promoted will drive you early on to build up a network of decision makers who will support you on your way to success.

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born. and tempting career advancement,


5 mistakes you can’t afford to make when interviewing for an executive job at another company

This could’ve been your big break – one of the factors affecting the career development of any manager looking to advance.

You were called in for an interview at another company for a fabulous position – a job that would’ve been considered a major promotion at your current organization.

All excited (and a little nervous), you prepared yourself for the interview, making sure to find out key data about the company and brushing up on presenting your experience and qualifications.

At the interview, things seemed to go well as you explained about yourself and demonstrated your eagerness for the job. As the interview came to a close, you all shook hands. You were optimistic as you left the interview room.

But unfortunately, a few days later, you received an email stating that though the hiring committee was impressed with your background, they were still hesitant about your lack of experience in executive management. On a positive note, they’d be happy to hire you at your current managerial level.

A bummer. You were not only disappointed with the rejection, but also you were insulted at the thought of being offered to move to another company to do the same job you’re doing now. Following the initial shock, you began to wonder what caused the hiring committee to reject you. After all, they’d called you in for an interview. They must’ve thought that you had at least some chance of being hired. Was the interview conducted in good faith?

The good news is yes, you were interviewed in good faith. Companies don’t have time to conduct bogus interviews. But the unfortunate news is that  during your interview, doubts began to arise regarding your ability to be an effective executive manager – one of the major factors affecting career development. As the interview began, you were basically a gamble for the hiring committee – and therefore a heavy risk to the company. And as the interview progressed, the committee never got the feeling that it would be worth their placing their bets on you.

So what caused this opportunity of a lifetime to crash and burn? Read on to find out the 5 most common mistakes external candidates make when vying for a job at a higher level.

1.    You never saw the gap.

Never mind minding the gap. You didn’t even look for it. As an executive wanna be applying from outside the company, you’re just not going to have everything the company thinks it needs. Your job is to first and foremost acknowledge this gap, ensuring, as much as possible, that you know what’s expected versus what you can realistically bring to the table.

2.    You never bridged the gap.

Maybe at some point you realized that what you could offer might not completely fit the bill. But as a strategy, you thought it would be a good idea to ignore such “minor details” and just concentrate on what you could offer. Bad move. As you rambled on and on about your experience, the parts you strategically ignored were forming a huge elephant in the room. And the fact that you never tried to compensate for your shortcomings doubled the size of the elephant – and knocked you off the shortlist.

3.    You widened the gap.

While you were recounting your qualifications and experience, you failed to realize that your canned speech had little relevance to the issues the company was actually facing. The polite smiles you received were not because you were impressing the socks off the committee. They were just polite smiles…waiting for you to end your monologue.

4.    You fell into the gap.

This job opportunity was pretty much a long shot. Between us, we know you’d applied for a similar position at your current organization and were rejected. So when you actually landed the interview for this job, you had to ask yourself if they’d possibly made a mistake. But you were still excited about the opportunity, even though the chances of success were slim. Well, it’s exactly this approach to the interview that caused you to get swallowed into the gap. If you’d prepared diligently for the interview, as if you’d been hungry…no…STARVING for the job, then you wouldn’t have fallen into the gap. Instead, you spent energy convincing yourself that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you didn’t get the job. And by doing so, you convinced the hiring committee of the same thing.

5.    You missed the gap.

You never really told the hiring committee one thing: why you. Just like when you market a product or service, you have to know how to position yourself for your particular target market. But you failed to do your market research and therefore see how you were going to satisfy the company’s needs better than anyone else.

Hopefully, you’ll have another crack at a dream job…and you’ll do it right. The most important lesson to learn is that all of these mistakes result from one thing: lack of productive preparation. So before pursuing your next dream job, make sure you do the following:

1.    Find out why the company is interviewing external candidates instead of or in addition to internal ones. What qualities might there be lacking in the internal candidates? Knowing this will help you position yourself as something attractive the company will want to pursue.

2.    Research what the company is succeeding at and what challenges it is facing. This will help you know which parts of you to emphasize. As a result, the hiring committee will know it can count on you to both maintain its success and tackle its challenges.

3.    Prepare your pitch – and not a generic one either. Make sure it addresses all of the 5 mistakes mentioned above. At the end of your pitch, the hiring committee should feel that you know the company and its needs inside and out – and that you’re the right person to satisfy them.

Pursuing a higher level job outside your current organization can be a great challenge – as it takes both you and the hiring committee out of your comfort zones. But with the right research and preparation, it can create a win-win for everyone.

Good luck.

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

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