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5 habits to adopt now to get that promotion

If you want to get ahead at work, start by cultivating these habits.
by Alice Williams /
Image: Man sitting in Design Office Looking Out of Window
Failure is a key part of success. Instead of overanalyzing and avoiding failure, use it as a tool for growth.Shannon Fagan / Getty Images
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Are you looking to make take a leap ahead at work? While everyone’s career plans are different, 90 percent of millennials say that upward career mobility and annual raises are the key factors that would keep them in their jobs for the next 10 years. Promotions are a clear indicator that your career is progressing and that you’re valued by your company — it’s no wonder that working professionals seek upward mobility.

Whatever your goals may be, cultivating habits that will boost your workplace success is a strategic move. Here are five new habits to adopt that will move you closer to your well-deserved promotion.

1. Learn to Sell Your Ideas

Are you the type of person who always has a million ideas yet struggles to put them into practice? It’s time to put a full stop to this habit. While there may be genuine obstacles which impede action, a clear pattern of inaction won’t help you grow your career.

To break this pattern, learn how to effectively sell your ideas and get others on board. Remind yourself that even some of the most important names in business and politics had to sell, negotiate, and be flexible with their ideas before they could move forward. Micah Pratt, marketing manager of Business.org, offers the following advice: “Always create a business case for your idea which clearly states the business and user value, what steps need to be taken for it to succeed, as well as necessary team members. If you’re able to effectively communicate the value and importance of your ideas, it’ll be easier to get other potential stakeholders onboard to put your plan into action.”

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2. Start Implementing Constructive Feedback

Constructive criticism can be difficult to deal with. It’s natural to feel defensive when someone points out your weaknesses. However, ignoring criticism can be detrimental to your career. “If you receive constructive feedback at work, it is important to take it seriously and act on it as soon as possible,” says Debra Boggs, MSM, co-founder of D&S Professional Coaching. “Most managers do not like difficult conversations, so if they took the time, it is important to them.”.

If your goal is to get a promotion, implement your manager’s feedback.

“Make the changes your manager requested and then report back periodically on your progress to signal that you are serious about growing as a professional,“ says Boggs. When leaders look to promote people, they are seeking those who can take constructive feedback and act on it. Growth opportunities are exciting yet they come with a new level of responsibility and work. As such, it’s important that promoted individuals can take feedback because they may need coaching and course correction along the way. “I have personally seen professionals earn promotions after doing great work only to be fired later for resistance to grow and learn in their new role,” Boggs says.

3. Implement Key Learnings From Past Failures

For many professionals, failure feels like a clear indication of their shortcomings. A recent study on perfectionism in college students found that “the energy behind perfectionism comes largely from a desire to avoid failure.” If you’re too focused on the possibility of failure, you won’t push yourself to achieve your big long-term goals — and good managers understand that high-risk goals can lead to failure.

Instead of overanalyzing and avoiding failure, use it as a tool for growth. Failure can help you uncover avoidable mistakes and teach you how to pay closer attention to detail and not rush tasks. If you aren’t afraid to fail then you can take more risks which can provide valuable new knowledge for your company. Being able to not only take responsibility for failure, but to learn and grow from it, is a valuable skill which will set you apart from your competition.

4. Arrive to Work on Time

Time management is important for professionals, says Becky Flynn, a career coach at the University of Utah’s Business Career Services. According to Flynn, professionalism was ranked by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as one of the most important attributes desired by employers, and time management which is an important component of professionalism. Coming to work late every once in a while with a good reason in tow is understandable. What’s not acceptable, however, is showing a consistent pattern of arriving to work and meetings late.

A pattern of arriving late can make others question your dedication and commitment to the business. “It indicates that your job is not as much of a priority for you as it should be,” explains Matt Dubin, Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology, founder of Matt Dubin Consulting. This behavior can show that you are putting your needs ahead of your team’s and that you are not responsible and organized — not the type of behavior valued by senior leaders.

“Make sure to go above and beyond when you're in the office,” Dubin says. Offer to take on extra tasks and help your colleagues with their own projects. Contribute during meetings, ask thoughtful questions, and stay present even when tempted by distractions on your phone.

5. Increase Your Visibility With Senior Leaders

Perhaps you’re used to getting your work done without involving others. It’s essential that you’re able to work independently, but always going solo can be detrimental to career growth. Working with others helps you build camaraderie with a wider group of people and exposes you to new ideas. If you’ve gotten into the habit of working alone, make an effort to increase your visibility with other team members — especially company leaders.

“Research has shown that leaders are more likely to promote people they’re comfortable with, so it’s important to find opportunities to rub shoulders with senior management, whether it’s by joining a key task force or volunteering to run an extra-curricular event that’s important to the company,” says Carter Cast, a clinical professor at the Kellogg School of Management and author of "The Right (and Wrong) Stuff: How Brilliant Careers are Made – and Unmade."

TAKE YOUR CAREER TO THE NEXT LEVEL

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