MANAGE YOUR CAREER
177
Clearly, this is an imperfect way of deciding peoples futures. And that is the
whole point. Corporate life is rarely fair or rational, even although we try to be
fair and rational. People who relied solely on the formal promotion process
and worked to tick all the boxes came up short. Successful people showed a
little more political savvy. So if you are in a large machine bureaucracy, you will
increase your chances of promotion if:
You find a powerful and supportive sponsor: ideally this person is
somewhere above your boss, and will work the system for you if you have
done enough to help and impress your sponsor.
Make sure you have a claim to fame which is visible beyond your part of
cubicle land.
Remember impressions count. Figure out who is on the promotions
commission: being enthusiastic may count as a certifiable mental disorder in
some organisations, but in most will help you stand out from the crowd.
It would be nice to think that smaller organisations are less political, if only
because the performance of each individual is more visible. If anything, the
politics are more intense and more personal because everyone knows everyone
else, and because the promotion criteria are often less clear.
how not to get Promoted
Leading from the middle is the hardest stage of any managers career. Whisper
it quietly, but top management is far easier and more rewarding than middle
management. At the top you have more control over your destiny, and more
resources at your disposal.
Many people never make out of the matrix in the middle of most organisa-
tions. Here are the five most common types of career hold-up:
1 The boy scout or girl guide, who believes that working hard and honestly
will get you to the top. No it will not. You need a claim to fame, to stake your
claim and to have sponsors who will look out for you at promotion, bonus
and assignment time.
2 The expert, who gets promoted on the basis of deep functional expertise.
These people are good at managing ideas and techniques: think
accountants, lawyers, IT specialists. They fail to learn the top management
skills of managing people, politics and business.

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