How to Get Promoted to the Top

Maybe you’re at the bottom of the food chain at work and want to make your way to the top. But how? Climbing the ranks at any organization takes hard work, yes. But it’s about so much more than that. You also have to be strategic. In this blog, let’s talk about exactly how to get promoted at work and what you can do to position yourself for success.

Psst! If you prefer video over reading, I’ve got you covered.

Climbing to the Top: How to Get Promoted in Your Organization

First, I want to give you an important heads-up: Before you can understand how to get promoted at work, you have to ask yourself, “Is my company ready for this? Do they need it?”

If your place of employment is very small or in the middle of massive changes, climbing the ranks might not be feasible (at the moment!). However, if you work for a more mature company that’s built a strong foundation and has a great track record, then you’re in a good place.

Let’s move on to some helpful tips.

1. Do Something That You’d Want if You Were the CEO

If you do just enough to get paid, then that’s not going to be enough. If you always have to be told what to do — and you don’t often take the initiative — that’s also not enough.

Try this: Put yourself in the CEO’s shoes. If you were that person, and you saw an employee doing the bare minimum, would you see potential in that person? Probably not.

Rather, think about what would you want to see the employee in your role doing. Maybe that should be your focus.

Let’s say you work in the marketing department, and you help with event planning. Sure, for every event, you can go down the checklist: Book your booth at the venue, order the signage, print out brochures, and so on.

Outside of crossing items off the list, how can you have a bigger impact?

Maybe you audit all of the potential events for the year to determine where you can have the biggest impact — and the rest of the events get shelved. If you do that, not only do you save your company serious money, but you’re positioning it to get the most bang for its buck.

Money saved, improved ROI — that’s going to get people’s attention.

employees smiling and giving a high-five

2. Become a Problem-Solver

Challenges are what make work interesting. However, there are generally two ways that employees handle these hurdles.

Some employees throw their hands up, go to their boss, and say, “We have a problem.”

Meanwhile, other employees examine the problem, go to their boss, and say, “We ran into a problem. Here are a few potential solutions.”

The problem isn’t the obstacle. Choosing not to address the problem is the obstacle.

If you can clearly demonstrate your problem-solving skills, the higher-ups will see that you’re preparing yourself for a role with more responsibility, authority, and pressure. That is how you get promoted.

3. Be an Owner, Not a Renter

I’ve discussed this before in my blog about company culture. To recap, some employees are owners, and some are renters.

Renters clock in, do their jobs, and clock out. They do what they need to do in order to get paid.

Owners treat the company as if it were their own. They take accountability for the things they work on and show up wanting to make an impact. They’re open to feedback, eager to learn, and genuinely care about helping the company succeed.

If you want to climb to the top of your organization, you have to be an owner.

Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean working 80 hours a week. It’s very much a mindset shift.

Not sure if you’re currently an owner or a renter? Look at it like this. If somebody sold you the company today for $1, would you show up tomorrow and behave differently? If the answer is yes, then you might be a renter.

4. Show Up with Integrity

This can be hard to define because it might look a little different from person to person. However, here are a few examples of what it means to be an employee of integrity:

  • If you make a mistake, you own up to it and try to make things right. You don’t try to minimize it or deflect it.
  • You don’t lie or otherwise try to disguise the truth — for yourself or others.
  • You prioritize the greater good of the company and the team behind it.
group of employees

Bear in mind that if you break or abuse the “rules” of integrity, it’s hard to come back. You might make one very poor choice, and people respond with, “Well, if they were willing to do that, what else have they done that we just don’t know about yet?”

Always think before you act.

5. Do All of This Because You Want To

I know this might sound kind of contradictory, but here it is. While it’s perfectly okay (great, even!) to have a goal of climbing to the top of your organization, that can’t be your sole motivation.

You need to genuinely care about the success of your company. Why? It’s simple. Again, imagine that you’re the CEO. And you meet an employee who strives to take your company to new heights. Yes, they care about their own career trajectory. But they’re passionate about taking your organization to the next level.

That’s someone you’d want to promote, right?

This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Before we end, I want to leave you with this. If you want to know how to get promoted, write this down: You are in this for the long haul.

This isn’t a bad thing! Most great things in life take time. Give yourself time and space. You will make mistakes. That’s okay. Use them to your advantage by letting them guide you. Be receptive and open to feedback. Listen more than you speak.

If you work smart and hard, you’ll make it to the top.

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Jonathan Baktari MD

Jonathan Baktari, MD brings over 20 years of clinical, administrative and entrepreneurial experience to lead the current e7 Health team. He has been a triple board-certified physician with specialties in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine. He has been the Medical Director of The Valley Health Systems, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Culinary Health Fund and currently is the CEO of two healthcare companies.
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