How to Gain Support from Management for Your Next Promotion

Your ability to gain advocacy at work is essential to get promoted. Learn ways to gain support from management without feeling like a politician lobbying for endorsements.

Gain Support from Management for Your Next Promotion

In our intro to the People Principle, we covered what it’s about and why it matters. In today’s post I’m going to share some ideas to gain more advocacy at work.

So let’s get into it…

How to Win Over More Advocates

So, the wording above may make you cringe a little (or maybe a lot)—it does for me. Winning over advocates sounds a lot like lobbying for endorsements, and that can feel super smarmy.

For someone who values humility and modesty, being told you need to campaign for yourself can be a huge turn off. No one wants to kiss up to others.

But to be clear, this is not what I’m saying.

Here’s the thing: You know your promotion is long overdue. You know you deserve it. The problem is other important and influential people don’t recognize it yet.

It’s your responsibility to help them see the light.

And there are many ways you can make this happen while keeping your integrity intact. While still feeling good about yourself and staying true to your personal values.

Start by asking yourself, how can I give others a reason to support me? What would help them see my value and potential?

There are many ways to do this, but here are a few that worked well for me, and more importantly, left me feeling good about myself too.

Be a giver to gain support from management.

Find ways to help others be more effective. Not in a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” kind of way, but in a genuine approach that comes from a place of service. When you give to others, it gets noticed—and shared with others.

I’ll give you an example. Earlier in my career there was a senior executive who held significant clout in the organization. She was the right-hand, trusted advisor to the leader of our organization.

I had a decent relationship with her, but she wasn’t a fan – yet. I hadn’t given her enough of a reason to believe I was ready to be promoted. Until she learned how I helped one of her employees move an important project forward.

I saw her employee struggling to gain support from my peers, so I stepped up to help remove roadblocks. And it didn’t go unnoticed. She reached out to me a few weeks later and thanked me for what I did to help her employee, and for role modeling a higher level of cooperation among my peers.

It ended up turning a mostly neutral relationship into one of advocacy and support moving forward.

Now, it’s important to know I didn’t step in and help with the intention to earn points with her. I had no idea this employee would tell her manager about my actions.

I did it because it was the right thing to do for the business—because it aligned with my personal value system of what a leader should do.

Ask for help to gain support from management.

Enlist support from one or two trusted coworkers, especially ones who spend more time with higher ups. These are your work friends–they know you, believe in you, and want to see you succeed.

How can you engage them in your plight to get promoted? Rather than having to message your own justification for a promotion, ask a few trusted colleagues to help your cause.

For example, can they call out your contributions in key projects, or recommend adding you to the agenda for important meetings, or simply have an eye out for ways to get you more visibility at work?

It won’t go unnoticed by senior leaders that you have a coalition of strong supporters, which can also be a consideration for promotions.

Leaders want to promote people who are liked and respected by others, and whose promotion would be a welcomed celebration (vs blasted as a WTF, how did HE get promoted?!)

Get more facetime to gain support from management.

Find ways to show your value directly to the decision maker. Whoever it is that has the ultimate say on your promotion—who approves your promotion—focus on building a relationship with that person directly.

Setup one-on-one meetings to give updates on important projects or discuss challenging business issues. Or, get straight to the point and seek their advice on how to advance your career.

In my experience, what your boss (promotion nominator) thinks you need to do to get promoted often differs from what the big boss (promotion approver) thinks is needed. I guarantee you’ll learn some interesting things.

And, what if your boss suddenly quits? You’ll want to make sure you’ve got support in place with more than just your direct manager. 

Apply the other Promotion Principles.

Last, people want to help others get promoted who deserve it. And that means being a high-performing, high-potential professional whose presence makes a positive impact on others.

Apply what I shared in the performance, potential and presence domains, and direct those behaviors at the people who matter most in approving your promotion.

Hopefully these ideas will get you thinking of more ways to gain support from management in a way that feels authentic for you.

The above actions certainly helped me, but it wasn’t one action that did the trick. It was really a combination of taking many actions to build up goodwill that made the difference.