Tag Archives: career planning

6 Reasons Some Managers Get Promoted Over Others

arrowsupI’m sure you’ve seen it, maybe even experienced it yourself.  Some managers seem to get the promotions and others do not, even though those who are not promoted work very hard and are extremely conscientious about managing technology resources effectively.

This happens for technology employees as well, not just managers, , ,  some get the nod and others do not.

If you are interested in what’s going on read the rest of the article. I’m going to give you a senior management perspective that can help you in your management career.

As a CIO or executive of a company, we want to promote from within as much as possible. Promotions encourage our employees and to be quite frank, we like taking care of our own when they do a good job for us.

Unfortunately, we can’t always promote from within our company and must go outside to find the resource required to do a certain job.

There are several important issues that position you for a promotion no matter what your current position happens to be.

blue ribbon1.  You must be promotion material
You have to be doing a good job in the position you are in and we must be able to back fill your position when you are promoted.

In addition, you need to be right for the job in question. Let’s break each of these aspects down a bit and explain.

Job performance – This is a “no brainer”. To be promotion material, you need to be excellent at what you are doing.

As a senior manager, I want to promote the top 10 to 20 percent who I think will be able to rise to the occasion when confronted to the bigger challenges and issues of the new position.

Job performance is a key factor we look for when determining whether someone should be promoted and who can handle the challenges of the higher position.

Simply put, we promote the best we have, not average or poor performers.

Back fill your position – Being promoted is going to create a gap in your current area of responsibility.  Your position will most likely need to be filled.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in senior management meetings to discuss the needs of a new position of a growth company and not be able to promote from within.

When looking through our organization, we had people who had shown the performance to make them a good candidate for the higher role but when looking at how we would fill the gap created by promoting them, we had to back off making them the offer because there was no one to fill their position.

Many times we had to go outside when we had a great internal candidate, but losing them in their current position was too big a risk.

A management-101 principle is that you need to find a way to position someone to take your place.

Having the skill and experience isn’t enough; you need to be able to fill your position so business continues to run smoothly, , , so start investing in someone to take your place one day.

Right for the position – I had a great employee in my Help Desk organization many years ago. Our company grew very fast and we soon had the need for a Help Desk Manager.

My employee had very good management potential but because we were growing so fast I decided to hire someone from outside the company who already had management experience and in scaling up a Help Desk organization of a fast growth company.

My employee was pretty upset initially, but I explained to him that promoting him to this particular management position without being able to be there to support him could be overwhelming as fast as we were growing and potentially damage his career.

I convinced him that he would become a much stronger manager by learning from a seasoned Help Desk Manager who had already experienced what our company was going through.

I also committed to invest in developing his management skills to position him for a management role in the future. This employee became a very strong IT manager and CIO in his own right in later years.

Had I put him into a situation that he was not ready for and not support him properly, I could have ruined his management career.

success on target2.  Proven track record
You have to have a proven track record of success. As a manager, you have to deliver tangible results. The same is true as an IT employee.

Not only is it important that you achieve quantifiable results, much of whether you are promotion material is about how you go about getting the results.

For example, as an IT manager your efforts need to be in sync with your client and they agree that you have done a good job for them. “Client” being represented here by senior managers of the company and department managers.

For IT employees and IT managers, it’s imperative that you exhibit strong teamwork as you work with your peers and others in accomplishing your job.

We don’t just look at your technical skills when determining if you should be promoted or not.

People who work well with others in a cooperative spirit and foster a win-win environment are those we want in senior level leadership positions.

So, what this means is that regardless of your position you should pay attention to the track record you are creating and how you are getting the job done.

IT has a poor reputation for delivering projects with some studies suggesting that a very high percentage of all IT projects fail. Put yourself in the success group and keep track of your successes.

You may find that people, especially senior managers start looking at you differently.

We promote the people who we trust will be able to do the job, , ,  and your past track record is a good indicator of what the future should look like.

1803.  Deliver what you say you will deliver
Sounds pretty simple, but you might be surprised at how many people promise something but don’t come close to delivering it.

One very simple aspect of this is to follow-up on your commitments. Whether you are the CIO or a Desktop Support Technician, it’s imperative that you follow-up on any commitment to someone.

What often happens is that we see something that will improve a client’s situation so we make a promise to do something for them later. Before we get back to our desk, we are hit with five more issues that need attention and as a result we forget our promise.

Well, I can assure you that the person you promised something to does not forget. It may be a very minimal thing that doesn’t even have any real importance, but the fact that we forget tells the person we do not follow-up or take our promises seriously.

Nothing increases your value as much as when people view you as, “the person I can count on to do what he says he will do”.

phone4.  Strong communication skills
This one is significant. People who have strong communication skills have a real edge on those who don’t.

I encourage anyone who is reading this article to make an effort to develop your communication skills. There are training programs everywhere to help you develop effective communication skills.

Skills in public speaking, negotiation techniques, organizing and holding productive meetings, presentation techniques, etc. are all important investments you need to make in yourself, , , and don’t forget basics like good writing skills – also very important.

Make a commitment to speak in public, make stand up presentations, hold meetings, etc. to develop and improve your communication skills. I cannot emphasize enough how much solid communication skills can mean to you. In many cases, the person who gets the promotion over others is the one who can communicate effectively. Effective communication skills are career differentiators.

webinar5.  Business minded
Being business oriented and focusing your resources on issues that provide tangible business value to your company is key, especially for IT managers.

Too often, our managers are focused on the technology and not what the business needs. In management roles, this is a very important issue when looking to determine who should be promoted.

I’ll always opt for the manager who knows how to build strong client relationships and has a track record of delivering business value to our business operation clients over the strong technical manager who doesn’t know how to foster strong client relationships.

Managers are not good promotion candidates if their focus is out of sync with our business partner’s needs and issues. Many studies suggest that over 50% of all IT organizations are out of sync with the business so this is not a small issue.

Senior managers promote those who show they can focus resources on the right issues for the company and don’t get sidetracked into doing things for technology sake.

foundation blocks6.  Prepared for the next level of responsibility
This final point is similar to what we covered in the first point in being “promotion material”, but I think it goes beyond that.

If you want the next level of responsibility, then you should try to understand what the new job entails and prepare for it.

Maybe this requires additional education, , , maybe you need to gain new experiences or even accomplish certain things that are related to the new job’s responsibilities.

The point here is that you need to try and understand what is required of the new position and prepare yourself as best you can to be ready for such responsibilities.

What I have found in my career is that promotions tend to come to people who are prepared and ready for the next level. We don’t just give out promotions and hope the candidate will be able to succeed.

The need must exist
We can do a lot to help prepare an employee or an IT manager for the next level promotion, but at the end of the day the need must exist for such a promotion to occur, , , and the person must be a good candidate for the specific position.

In a small company with very few technology employees, promotions don’t happen quickly. In high growth companies that grow 20-30% every year, promotions tend to happen more often simply because the organization is growing in numbers.

When counseling your employees and discussing the idea of preparing and positioning them for the next level, be sure you make it clear that our company has to have the need and the candidate must be a good fit before such a promotion will occur.

Otherwise, you will set an expectation that when certain things occur in the employee’s development, the promotion will follow. Again, we have to have the need and a good fit before a promotion will actually occur.

I hope this gives you some things to think about as you make efforts to enhance your career and move to the next level.

Getting a promotion usually means you are ready for the role so take a look at what is required in the next position and be sure to develop the skills necessary to be successful in the position.

Good luck and best of success.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I sit down to have a career counseling session with an employee, one of the questions I usually ask is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question I ask myself at least once every year, , , typically at the end of the year when I develop my New Year resolutions.

My wife has a simple answer to this, “I don’t care what you become, , , I just want you to grow up.”

It’s beneficial to give this and other self assessment questions some thought from time to time.

Today, I’m a small business owner, , , this never really occurred to me in my 20’s or 30’s, , , but for some reason I began thinking more and more about working for myself in my early 40’s. I see this happening with many who I see turn 40, , , they start thinking more about what they want to accomplish in life.

Take 5 minutes a day for 30 days to think about what you want to be in 3 to 5 years. Jot down a few of your thoughts, , , ideas of what you need to do to get there, , , what it is you like to do if money were no issue, , , etc.

Jump out of the box and let yourself dream a bit.

Dreams are what awakens the inner desire of a person to do something more than he is doing today.

Dreams are what creates a hunger to become more than what you are.

Dreams are the start of what could be something big.

Better yet, , , do some dreaming or have some “what if” discussions with your inner circle to explore the possibilities of the future.

In today’s world with technology what it is, , , you can do almost anything.

Dream on!!


My IT Career Development Plan is one of the first ITBE Project Guides

IT Business Edge launched a new product called IT Project Guides this month. I was fortunate to help develop one of the first project guides for their launch, , , an IT Career Development Plan.

Quick overview
1)  Access the ITBE web site  —  www.itbusinessedge.com

2)  Select the IT Project Guides Menu link at the top

3)  Select the IT Career Development Plan link
, , , or access it directly at this link – CLICK HERE

Each Project Guide is broken into Project Phases and each phase contains 4 or 5 PowerPoint steps with download tools to explain and help you with the subject matter.

In the IT Career Development Plan, there are 4 phases, each with several steps that walk you through developing and implementing a career plan for yourself or in helping your IT employees with career planning.

Here is an overview of what you will find in this Project Guide:

–  Important IT Career Questions
–  Personal Strengths and Weaknesses
–  What Makes You Tick?
–  What Do You Really Want?
–  Your Personal Inventory
–  Beginning Your Career Plan
–  Where Are You Today?
–  Long-term Goals
–  Looking Beyond the Next Step
–  Preparation Is Essential and Ongoing
–  Keys to IT Career Development
–  A Personal IT Career Training Plan
–  Find an IT Career Mentor
–  Learn IT Success from Others
–  Investing in Your IT Career
–  Keys to Establishing Your Credibility
–  IT Recommendations and Business Value
–  Producing Positive Results
–  Communicate Your Track Record
–  More Resources Offered by MDE Enterprises, Inc.
Download Tools
The following download tools are available in this Project Guide:
–  Personal Attributes Inventory
–  IT Career Path Flowchart
–  Personal Training Scorecard
–  IT Initiatives Portfolio
I think you will find the IT Career Development Plan Project Guide and the tools helpful in providing structure and insight to think about your career and in defining what you want to achieve.
Best of success,
Mike Sisco, ITBMC

Personal Development Scorecard

To achieve great things in your career you need to develop your skills, , , skills that help you succeed in your current position as well as any future position you want to reach for.

Use a Personal Development Scorecard to identify skills you need to develop and track the inventory of assets you acquire as you invest in your future.

Download this tool at:

Part-1 is for Manager Skills


Part-2 is for Non-IT Skills. You need both type of skills to succeed.

Use this tool to develop a training and development track for yourself and while you are at it, why not use it to develop training tracks for each of your employees.

How do you change the perception of people in order to take on more responsibility?

People’s perceptions, especially senior management’s perceptions, are made up by the results we achieve, how we achieve them, and how we conduct ourselves. It really is a combination of each of these things, , , not just a matter of getting the job done.

Don’t underestimate the significance of “how you go about your work” and “how you conduct yourself with others” plays when senior management starts looking to promote someone.

If you aren’t getting assigned additional responsibilities and you think you should be, take a step back and try to objectively assess what the manager sees in your performance.

You may be getting results but possibly the manner in which you are getting your results is not quite what senior management wants to see. It may also be that you aren’t getting the results they expect.

Are you setting the right tone in terms of teamwork?

Are you creating positive energy for those around you or is it negative energy?

Are you creating the right role model image senior management wants?

All of these questions are worth asking yourself, , , and when you answer them, , , be objective and honest with yourself.

Ask your senior management why you are being passed over and ask in a non-confronting way. Be open to what they have to say and listen objectively. You may not like what you hear, but it is their perception that you have to deal with just like dealing with an unhappy client.

Don’t try to rationalize or defend yourself, just listen!

Don’t talk, , , LISTEN !!

Listen to what they have to say and incorporate their input into your approach to do a better job, whether doing a better job is getting better results or changing how you go about getting the results.

Personal story
My career took off when I stopped pushing senior management to give me more responsibility and to do more for me. Up until November 1986, my approach was all about me. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting more promotions, more money, more responsibility, , , all the things I thought I had earned.

Then, in November 1986 our company had a major reorganization. I was assigned a management responsibility for a small technical support group of 22 people supporting 23 clients.

My focus changed almost overnight although I didn’t realize it until much later. I started focusing on our clients and my employees to achieve some specific company objectives, and I was working so hard on this and having so much fun, , , I forgot about “me”.

When I truly focused on doing a great job for our clients and the company and started getting results in those areas, more responsibility just started coming my way. I suddenly became promotion material and was getting more and more responsibility when it seemed that I wasn’t even trying to get more responsibility. Sometimes, you just have to “let it happen”. It seems to happen easier when you aren’t pushing so hard.

In hindsight, it was about results and also about how I approached my responsibility.

My perception of myself before the reorganization was very different from my senior manager’s perception of me. I thought I was getting great results, but the reality was I was probably getting meager results at best. And I was always pushing for more every chance I got, , , and this created a negative vibe that I didn’t realize.

After the reorganization, the results were specific, quantifiable and matched up with what senior management wanted. It also helped that these results were visible, , , they have to know about it to appreciate the effort. Our monthly reporting processes communicated the results in an objective fashion and it made a difference.

Two more tips that may be worthwhile
First, raise your perspective to a senior manager level. They want managers to be mature and to think in terms of the client and in providing tangible business value. Being proactive in developing a strategy that’s in sync with the client and business owner’s needs is critical. Do things that reduces cost or improves productivity of groups of people and you endear yourself to senior management, especially if it helps achieve business financial goals.

Second, I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in senior management meetings to discuss the need to fill a senior management position and we had to turn potential candidates down because they didn’t have anyone in their organization who could step up and fill their management position if we promoted them.

To move up, you have to be able to fill your position with as little ripple as possible.

When we make management changes or promote someone, we look closely at the impact it’s going to have, both positive and negative. Management Rule #1 is to identify and develop your replacement.

Many managers tend to avoid doing this because they are concerned it makes them vulnerable. That’s completely wrong in my mind. Getting your replacement in position actually shows us you can develop a strong organization and it positions you to take on more responsibility.

Focus on positive results and how you go about getting those results. Both are important.