All internal promotions are tentative and interim. The minute you think you’ve secured the promotion, you’re on the road to failure. Instead, make sure you’re always the best candidate to do their job, their way, intentionally and deliberately doing your current job well and then progressing through the five stages of internal promotion:
- In the consideration set
- Privately promised
- Publicly designated or named
- Officially appointed or elected
- In role
1) In the consideration set
Well run succession planning produces a set of people that could succeed a job’s incumbent. Making it into that consideration set is the first step towards a future promotion. When you’ve done that, invest to understand the job you’re being considered for and the way that job needs to be done – heir job, their way. Make yourself the best possible candidate by continuing to build the strengths required including:
- Talent – the match between your innate talents and those required in the new role.
- Knowledge – learned from books, classes, training, etc.
- Skill – sharpened with intentional, deliberate practice.
- Experience – gained through activities, projects, programs, assignments and other roles.
- Craft-level artistic sensibilities and caring – absorbed in apprenticeships to masters.
The break point between being in the consideration set and promised the job is moving from being one of several candidates for the promotion to being the only candidate.
2) Privately promised
Even the best-intentioned private promise of a new job is only a statement of current best thinking. Continue to build your strengths. Identify the few most critical decision-makers and influencers. Actively seek them out and build relationships with them to build their support for you in the promised role.
The break point between being privately promised and “publicly” designated is just that – others are told that you’re getting the job.
3) Publicly designated or named
A public designation is a pivotal moment. Those supporting your promotion will rally around you. Those against it will band together against you. Identify your supporters, detractors and fence-sitters, working to move everyone one step to shift the balance in your favor.
- Turn supporters into champions.
- Move those on the fence into the supporter camp.
- Neutralize the detractors.
Note you’re still campaigning for the job. Keep building your strengths. Start the longer-term fuzzy front-end activities like building more specific relationships, deepening your learning, and starting to plan.
4) Officially appointed or elected
Once you’ve been officially appointed or formally elected, go all-in with your fuzzy front-end activities, building relationships, deepening knowledge, and putting together your personal 100-day action plan with the following components
- Leadership approach
- Personal set up
- Stakeholders, up, across and down internally and externally
- Message and key communication points
- Pre-start conversations and activities
- Day One and early days conversations and activities
- Tactical Capacity building blocks including imperative, milestones, early wins, role sort and ongoing communication
In some cases, you move into the new role the moment you’re officially appointed or elected. In other cases, there’s a lag.
5) In role
All roles are tentative and interim. The people that put you in the role can take you out. So, don’t stop. Stay focused on doing their job, their way. Continue to build your strengths. Continue to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones.
And keep your eyes out for changes so you can adjust. People fail in new roles for three reasons: 1) They fail to fit (which is less of a risk in an internal promotion.) 2) They fail to deliver. 3) They fail to adjust to changes down the road. Having mitigated the fit risk before being officially named, concentrate on delivery and adjustment.
Leverage your strengths to deliver what they need, their way.
Keep on the lookout for and pay attention to changes and understand whether they are:
- Minor and temporary – requiring no change on your part
- Minor and enduring – requiring an evolution
- Major and temporary – requiring short-term crisis management or opportunistic action
- Major and enduring – requiring a re-start before the people that put you in the role bring someone else in to restart things.