Breaking into senior roles: what to do when you feel stuck, how to get promotions, moving up from middle management... would love your advice!

Hi everyone!

It's Lani, from the Elpha team. ☺️

For our next resource guide, we'd love your tips, stories, and best practices from experience about what to do when you feel stuck at work and want to move up to the next level. Specifically, we'd love to hear insights from Elphas who have made the transition from middle management to director-level. 💪

UPDATE: Our resource guide about how to break into senior roles has been posted!

The guide will be published here:, and your responses in this thread may be quoted! These are the questions we have for you (feel free to answer them all or just a few):

  1. Have you ever felt like your career growth has stalled? How did you sense career stagnation?
  2. When you’ve felt that, what changes did you make or what did you do to get to the next level? What are some tactical things you did to move up or move along?
  3. If you had a conversation about wanting a promotion with your boss, how did you go about it? How did you figure out what your comp should be and ask for it?
  4. When did you know it was time, or you were ready, to break into a senior role?
  5. In order to make that jump from middle management into a senior role, what did you do? What qualities and skills did you need to emphasize?

Your advice will help so many other Elphas who might be feeling stagnant in their careers and trying to get over the hump. TIA! ❤️

1 - YES, I feel stalled when I stop learning. If I haven't added any new skills to my resume in the last 6 months, I'm officially stalled out.2 - As part of my interviewing/ hiring process, I inform every person I work for that the way to keep me productive and engaged is through constant learning and growth. I ask for their support with keeping me q'd up for personal/ professional development opportunities they become aware of. This has led to personal mentoring, professional leadership courses and promotions.4 - I looked around me at those in senior positions and when I began to feel more like a peer and less like a subordinate (from competency, communication and expertise standpoints), I began asking everyone for advice from their experience. 5 - Strong command of priorities and fluency in the language of senior leaders. Building relationships 2 levels up inside (if possible) or outside the organization to build my network. Outside industry recruiters played key roles for me at times.
1. Stalled? - Until I was 40, I never felt like my career growth had stalled. Primarily, my roles from the start of my career were: leading new initiatives; establishing new programs; or building new product lines. There is an inherent risk in cutting the path, yet it doesn’t allow much time for complacency. I realize that is not the preference for all people.Second, I changed industries a couple of times which put me on a path of continuous learning. Initially, I went up in a large organization with some lateral moves. I am not afraid of working with a new set of relationships, facts or people. When my initiative/program was successfully established, I kept my eye out for a new opportunity.2. Some tactics - I leaned hard into my competencies, which probably resulted in my working more hours than were required. I am definitely inclined to do all of my work, plus. It’s always been a changing world; there is always something new and relevant to learn. When I worked as an economist, a regulatory policy manager or even a product line director, I loved learning the details in the domain (and, of course, still do). It helped me see how all the pieces fit into the big picture, then develop better ideas and communicate more cogently. For example, when somebody called me a (power) "transmission nerd," I was elated because I was the regulatory policy manager influencing market structure.Domain expertise applied from a different discipline made favorable impressions on a lot of people. Sadly, I think you have to be present – literally. Go to meetings, conferences, industry happy hours – shared experiences are my jam, and then comes one-on-one meetings. I could have never learned so many things from so many people remotely because they wouldn't give me the time. Or I could have learned it, but not made it sufficiently visible to other people. (I have that problem now.)3. Raises and promotions - On a couple occasions, I brought up raises in my annual or semi-annual review. I knew what the men made in similar roles. I suggested that amount. Only in one company, did I have promotions bestowed onto me; most of the time I applied to a “diagonal.” My career path has been lined with guys hiring me and we worked together very successfully. Then, 6 times this happened - my boss was promoted or left, and his replacement did not like working with me – which had nothing to do with my performance. I ended up leaving.5. Advancement - I cannot over emphasize how much the senior people or respected experts at the industry meetings/functions/events, or in other divisions of large organizations, had to do with my advancement. The most critical aspect was they saw me in action – I wrote astute comments, asked thought-provoking questions and delivered on-time to the best of my ability.
1. Yes! I had nailed down the role I had, which made it easy for me to see problems that affected by job, but that I couldn't really solve within my role. They were issues a level or two above my role. They required collaboration across projects or across teams. 2. I started asking around to people on my team and on other teams to see if I understood the problems correctly and talk through possible solutions with them, and I created documents and proposals for my managers to show how we might be able to solve them. Sometimes I just got a bunch of people together at my level to try something new.3. That would usually work for a while within my role, and I'd suggest that doing these kinds of things be my new full time-role. I drew up a job description and tried to find the closest thing to it I could online and found salaries in line with that work. 4. That would work for a while, but eventually, I hit a point where my managers weren't interested in someone doing those things. They hired me for the thing I was doing, and they didn't really want me doing something else. And that's how I've always known it was time to leave an organization. I wanted to solve problems bigger than the ones my role allowed. I put in the work to try. And that organization wasn't interested in those ideas, so that meant it was time to move on.5. I looked for jobs that seemed to be interested in someone who was taking a step up, vs. someone who was already very experienced in senior positions. I had examples ready of ways I'd changed things across the company and ways I'd gotten buy in from stakeholders for change. I also got good at talking about my leadership philosophy, which is really helpful for interviewers to understand to see if you'll be a good fit for the team. Being able to talk about how you understand the industry, where you think it's going, and what that means for the organization is really important. Having a strong point of view shows that you really know the world of the work and that you're bringing some vision with you. It risks that you won't fit with the company vision, but that's really helpful to know how successful you're likely to be somewhere.
Oooh, #4 articulates exactly where I am. Thank you for articulating this and giving me a lot of food for thought on how to move on!
1. Yes, my career growth has completely stalled before. My wake-up call was when I joked to a friend that I could do that job in my sleep. I felt bored, unchallenged, unheard and under-resourced. Meanwhile, a major overhaul of the upper management team had closed off any opportunities for career growth.2. There have been times when I felt I was stalling and either my direct superiors would sense this and promote me or I could have an honest conversation and they would work with me to create a path towards growth and learning new skills. In one instance, I asked and the company paid for me to be certified in a skill set at a higher level than any other employee before or since. During another period of stagnation, I had a series of fruitful conversations with a sympathetic executive and, at his urging, I created a detailed proposal for reshaping my role to be more in line with current industry standards and included some low to no-cost plans for upgrading our service team. Unfortunately, aside from his enthusiasm, this was met with indifference by the rest of the leadership team. After I was laid off, along with more than half the company during the pandemic, I learned that they had taken my proposal and created that role, along with the departmental upgrades I had mapped out, and promoted a junior employee who made two-thirds of my salary. It was disappointing but proved I was right about where our team needed to go. It also helped me to see that my industry was moving in a direction I wasn’t thrilled with, so I have been pivoting my career since. 3. Most of my conversations have resulted in a promotion or raise within a few months. One time I was offered a raise that felt far too low. After clearing it with my direct manager, who had not been able to negotiate a higher raise for me, I went to the executive leading our department and got a significant pay bump green-lit in under three hours. My manager told me later that the executive was really impressed with my negotiating skills and, within a few months, that executive started promoting me up the ladder. As for compensation, I would check salary ranges for my area on Glassdoor and, if possible, talk to confidants at other companies who were working at the level I wanted to be promoted into to find out what a reasonable salary was. Typically, I would have to wait until raises were given companywide to score a promotion so I seeded these conversations months in advance, as I had a good working relationship with most of my direct managers. I think it’s best to prep your advocates about this kind of ask, so they can advise you on any materials or proofs they would need to make the case to their superiors. It also gives them an opportunity to tell you they aren’t comfortable making that case for you in the context of a lower-stakes conversation. Then, it becomes an opportunity to identify your weaknesses and show your superiors that you have improved upon them before asking for a promotion again.4. As I worked for the same company for nearly ten years, I often didn’t have to build a formal case for a promotion. I had already accrued the responsibilities and achievements and it was apparent that a raise and title adjustment were warranted. It was trickier when I proposed expanding my responsibilities from pure customer service management to customer experience as the company did not have a UX team or even a strong product team at the time. I was trying to educate them about the role while also selling them on why it would benefit our company to invest in this new approach to customer care when what we were currently doing was successful.5. One of the biggest assets I had, in moving into senior management, was monetizing my department. I had conceived and launched a very successful subscription retention program which gave me hard numbers to show how my department was paying for itself many times over. I was also good at cutting operational costs through deal hunting among SAAS providers and incremental changes to how we scheduled and staffed. Prior to our business moving into subscriptions, it had been more difficult to make a strong case about the ROI of a service team, and by extension, my value to the company. I also had glowing annual reviews from my staff, who were very loyal to the company thanks to the great work life balance I was able to carve out for them (which was not always the case for employees in other departments, but again because I could show the ROI for my management style, I was given a lot of leeway). Soft skills are great to emphasize, but money is more persuasive so if you can show your value in dollars, you can make an unassailable case for promotion.
1. Have you ever felt like your career growth has stalled? How did you sense career stagnation? Yes I have several times during my career. Usually I sensed the stagnation via “triggers” which can be externally or internally such as a co-worker being promoted or a change in personal life like marriage or new baby and no change in professional life. 2. When you’ve felt that, what changes did you make or what did you do to get to the next level? What are some tactical things you did to move up or move along?There are a few steps I do every time: 1) ask myself if I am really stagnant or if I am being hyper critical to myself. Once that’s answered, I then ask my “personal board of directors” who are my trusted mentors, friends and family members who know me well and can give me constructive feedback. Imposter syndrome is legit and we have to keep fighting it. I’d I just got promoted a year ago and somehow thinking I’m not good enough because someone I know just got a bigger jump than me, that’s not stagnation. That’s a lie and I need to stop it. If I have been in the same role for a long time and have not been at all challenged or excited about anything new, then yes, I might be stagnant. Then the first thing is to do the cycle again: talk to myself and ask why: the reason could be I don’t really want to stay in the role to learn more, or I havnt really pushed myself to learn, or maybe its not about the job but about the people I work with. Then talk to my board of directors for their feedback and suggestions since they are not in the day to day and can see clearer than I am at the time. Then, I create a roadmap with concrete steps and timelines for the next change/next growth step such as promotion, finding a new role, new company, new skill set to learn or to go back to school, etc. 3. If you had a conversation about wanting a promotion with your boss, how did you go about it? How did you figure out what your comp should be and ask for it?I would come in praising my boss about his/her support for me all these times. I would also ask about their goals for the next 3 years and how they plan to achieve it. Then, I would provide my reasons and back it up with historical success I had for me to take on a new promotion and help them achieve their goals. And since their goals are X/Y/Z and couple with my skills and success, I would propose the raise in ball park (which obviously I have prepared by researching industry salary and ask around with people with similar roles in my network). Then I would stay in that office until I have that agreement verbally first, then I would suggest to follow up the verbal agreement with an emails with concrete next steps on achieving the goal in the timeline we set together. 4. When did you know it was time, or you were ready, to break into a senior role?When others begin coming to me for advice or when I feel like it’s time. We, women leaders, have got to also learn to trust our gut. And our value5. In order to make that jump from middle management into a senior role, what did you do? What qualities and skills did you need to emphasize?I learned up on executive presence. I need to learn other skills such as P&L, coaching and leadership. Learn how to communicate horizontally and vertically (both directions) with respect is crucial in a senior and exec roles.
1. Absolutely.  Having a great manager plays a big part in one's motivation and development.  When I think about the best managers who coached and supported me throughout my career, I felt elevated and my strengths were tapped into the right way.  Unfortunately, more often than not, we are not blessed with those great managers, and I have felt completely stalled as they couldn't appreciate the work, nor understand how to use my strengths.  In my field, on the projects and operational side, the work often goes unnoticed - unless, of course, something goes wrong.  Then it is just the odd moment when the spotlight is out - for all the wrong reasons!  Make sure you get a feel for the type of person you will be reporting to.  It makes all the difference between helping or hindering your career.2. Early in my career, I didn't have the courage to speak up.  With a few notches in the belt now and more confidence, I began talking to a couple of execs I had access to about my challenges.  Not in a threatening way, but more as a conversation and creating awareness around it.   Showing that level of maturity gets you noticed - for the right reasons.  Avoid blame and shaming - be constructive in those conversations and make suggestions for what you think can improve!3. I recall one time I was hellbent on the fact that I deserved a promotion but for some time, I was way too shy to bring it up with my boss.  I finally plucked up the courage to talk about all the work that I was doing that was well above my existing position.  You need to be proving you are already at the next level.  So by the time you have the promotion review with your manager, it will make it very difficult for them to argue against.  4. Because I was looking at the more senior people around me thinking "hang on, I am doing the same work as them.  Why does it now feel unfair that I am not able to be "equals" in this?".  I guess there is also that desire to take on more responsibility that kicks in at some point; I couldn't imagine doing the same thing for years on end.5. You have to be proactive.  Don't sit around waiting for the responsibility.  Be constructive.  Your manager is likely to notice when you are stepping in and up to take care of things so they don't have to (not implying you do their work here), but making yourself reliable and dependable are great traits in leaders. And make sure you are ready to be a manager (if you are on a managerial track).  Think of it like this - your team will be looking to you to guide and support them - you can't avoid it.  If you can't offer that at a basic level, then you need to give yourself more time.
1. Yes! As a PM, I felt bored with lower level story writing, sprint planning, etc. and frustrated that higher level decisions were either made poorly or not well communicated.2. I first asked if I could take on some of the strategic decision making and was told yes, but then when I pointed out that I'd have less time for the lower level work, my supervisor rescinded the offer. Then I started looking for new roles. When my supervisor left, I asked to be considered for his role.3. I used salary surveys to argue for higher compensation.4. I knew it was time when I thought I could do a better job than the person who was in the senior role, or at least wanted to try to do a better job.5. I took a course at Pragmatic Marketing to get a better vocabulary to talk about product strategy.
1) I felt it after I was made redundant fromH&K back in the early 2000s. I became a board director at a young age and I knew I didn’t want to stay in a big American agency culture. It was too political for me and I needed to decide where I’d progress next!2) I didn’t have much choice at the time as after the bust there weren’t many jobs around in tech. So I joined Oracle in a purely pragmatic move because it was more in house experience and a big tech brand.3) The only conversation I’ve had regarding a promotion happened in my second agency job. I took a slight demotion when I joined as it was a bigger and more successful agency than what I’d left. I was promised that I’d be moved back up in six months. I didn’t get a formal review for a year… At that point I was so angry (I’d had a glowing appraisal) that I basically put my appraiser on the spot and said “why are you not promoting me now”? I had to discuss my appraisal with another director and I got the promotion within a week.4) To be honest this was never a consideration for me as things just happened naturally. I progressed because I kept my confidence, even after an initial setback, and experiencing very bad behaviour and bullying. I was promoted or headhunted because I was good at what I did and that was recognised.5) At some point in my career, I think in my late 20s when I was an account director, a woman spoke to me about gravitas and the importance of having it in order to progress. How do you develop that at a young age? It’s difficult and sometimes I think you have it or you don’t. Being a good listener is very important and thinking before you speak so you don’t sound flippant. Taking time to let experiences sink in, learning by osmosis. With me I never did anything, my progression just happened partly down to experience and partly down to reputation and the support of my network. I also had a life changing experience as a teenager which forced me to identify and use my strengths very quickly. I am sure this experience has significantly impacted my life and career.
1. Career Stagnation: lack of passion and motivation are the first clues to career stagnation. Are you excited to get out of bed each morning? Do you still feel excited to work with team members? Are you appreciated by co-workers and bosses? Another question to ask is regarding innovation. Have you been innovated with your role, products or services? At every level, from admin to CEO, there is room for creating new systems and ideas that will benefit the company now and in the future.2. Tactical Ideas: the first question to ask yourself is it time to make a transition in or outside the company, or is it something within the company that is holding you back. Look at your position, responsibilities, co-workers, etc. that are repressing you and your abilities. Another important area that I see often is burn-out. You love the environment and your position, but you feel exhausted and overwhelmed with stress. It would be difficult for anyone in this position to bring excitement and enthusiasm to their career.3. Promotion Conversation: I would do research in the industry regarding salaries to get the range that you deserve. Also, I would try to get salary information from within the company if possible. In addition to getting information regarding salary, I would be prepared to talk about your past track record and how you’ve positively affected the bottom-line of the company, as well as presenting high-level ideas of what great things you’ll do in your new position.4. Time for a Senior Role: when you know the value and contributions that you’ve made for the company, it’s time to start thinking about a senior role. Another indicator is if you’ve managed teams successfully by boosting collaboration.5. Jump to Senior Role: senior management and C-level exec roles are about being able to communicate the vision of the company in and outside the company and inspire others to do the same. Therefore, it’s best to gain the skills in the area of communication and empathy. Classes/retreats/coaching to boost your personal growth will also be helpful, as people will look up to you as a mentor and leader in this position.
Can't wait for this to come out! And also tagging a few Elphas who I know have a lot of good thing to share!@indiadearlove who became a manager about 1 year ago maybe you can tell us how that's been for you :)@BrianaBrownell who always has a lot of wisdom to impart here!@annamclaughlin who dropped some epic gem a few months ago (for proof see this: )@abigray, @krystalpersaud who before going the venture route, worked at a larger company managed a large team, @emilytsitrian and @rachelbell
Q Have you ever felt like your career growth has stalled? How did you sense career stagnation?A Yes. Moments of stagnation were ones such as rescuing projects that were a primary source of revenue for our company, and working more and more hours per week - without a raise or opportunity for co-ownership. Also, any scenario that involves increasing responsibility without authority or resources. Last but not least, be mindful of movement over time. Even if you are in a manager or more senior role, are you having the same pace of opportunity to continue taking on new things and increased responsibility.Q When you’ve felt that, what changes did you make or what did you do to get to the next level? A After discussing options, I left. Q What are some tactical things you did to move up or move along?A I talked to friends and recruiters at other companies about wanting to work someplace where I could have the most impact. This helped me gain perspective on what companies are interested in evolving and staying competitive, care about employee paths over time and listen to people. It was also the start of my understanding that there really are places where your input and impact may never be valued because of gender, age, tradition or other factors and realizing how important culture, social circles and a senior advocate can be.
Hi @LaniAssaf here are my thoughts about this: 1. Yes. One of the happiest roles I had was at the very beginning of my career when I was a manager at an animation small firm. I sensed stagnation after being with them for almost 3 years and I knew there were no more expectations from me. That made me look for my next step and with a candid conversation, my ex-boss is today a dear friend of mine. 2. First comes the analysis piece of it, when we need to be very careful to not fall in the 'impostor's syndrome' trap but also assess if what we are doing is taking the organization to it's fullest potential and more importantly, are we being challenged enough? If the answer to those questions are no's, then it's time to move on. 3. Every time I've had these *sometimes* uncomfortable conversations, I've made sure to come with data to show the value I've added to the org. It's really hard to come to the table without facts that back up the promotion. Regarding the comp, I have one piece of advise- ALWAYS keep interviewing and open to listen to other offers as our value is not what we find in career sites or comp sites. Our value is what a company is willing to pay us in real time and according to our current circumstances. 4. This is an easy one for me. It hit me when my team members were coming to me for advice and soon. that became a need for me to become a real manager/director. 5. I kept myself in the table of the important conversations by asking to be part of them (you'd be surprised on how accessible some people are when they see the right learning attitude). The main quality I had to practice and generate strong muscles around are my listening skills. Easier said than done. And the second one is humility- knowing and understanding that you are not above anyone. It's simply about how to enhance other's potential while not losing sight of your own.
1. Absolutely. I didn't feel challenged in my area of responsibility. And it was easy and boring... At that period I started asking myself a lot of questions about what I want and what my next move should be.2. Taking more responsibility. I initiated and led cross-functional projects that added more visibility within the company and showcased my ability to manage projects outside of my usual area. Another important strategic thing - having a successor in mind/ready. You need to show the decision-makers that there is somebody who is ready to take your current responsibilities to ensure that the transition is smooth.3. It was a part of our semi-annual assessment. I expressed the desire to move to the next level. I had a great boss who gave me an opportunity to gain experience and learn. 5. It's very important to be visible within the company and supported by key stakeholders. The decisions on senior management positions are rarely done by one person so it's always good to have as many stakeholders on your side as you can. They need to trust you and believe that you are the right fit. I don't mean 'people-pleasing'. Just make sure that not only your direct boss knows how good you are ;)
1) Yes, and I've experienced both external and internal signs. Externally, the job roles (and job security) I was trained for in academia were rapidly disappearing by the time I entered the market. Internally, my responsibilities became routine. I did not feel challenged and could no longer align my motivation and goals with my day-to-day actions.2) Tactically, I sought immediate opportunities to grow and contribute within my team or organization (volunteer to help, sign up for training). Showing up goes a long way. And I communicated my desire to learn more and do more with my immediate leadership - how someone reacts can clue you in to whether or not you're in the right place.3) I started promotion discussions early, as in immediately after annual performance reviews, so I could chart a course for the next year(s). I asked HR about the salary structure and listened to my peers, especially regarding issues of internal equity. I learned the hard way that organizational culture is a big factor in compensation discussions and sometimes compensation itself.4) I knew I was ready when I wanted to have a say in how things were done and the direction in which we were moving. I felt confident in my judgments and had taken the time to learn the existing systems and stakeholders. That way, I could offer an evidence-based perspective. There is a gender dynamic to the readiness factor - it's important to recognize you don't have to know everything to be ready, but it helps to have a track record of quality results and trusted relationships.5) I'm still in the upward transition, and the most important aspects so far have been demonstrating leadership, anticipating and solving obstacles to team success, and showing an interest in how the organization operates. Look up and look around!
1. Have you ever felt like your career growth has stalled? How did you sense career stagnation?It happened in the first 5 years of my career at a bank in Hong Kong - I felt I was not progressing fast enough compared to peers and my intellect was not stimulated enough. There was something else I wanted to do at the back of my mind, which was investment management.2. When you’ve felt that, what changes did you make or what did you do to get to the next level? What are some tactical things you did to move up or move along?Based on that calling, I first decided to leave Hong Kong and went for an MBA at UC Berkeley as a supplement to my U.K. undergraduate education. So further education and exploration of various subjects of finance was my way of moving along. Gaining summer internship practical experiences was important. Leveraging the alumni network to get in a new field was very helpful as my resume was passed on to a friend and MBA alumni who passed my resume to a member of the Board of Trustees of a mutual fund company, and I got the job as an investment analyst in the U.S.3. If you had a conversation about wanting a promotion with your boss, how did you go about it? How did you figure out what your comp should be and ask for it?I have negotiated my title and also company ownership with my boss before but not directly on the compensation. Title promotion usually comes with some jump in salary. The best way is to know what that promoted role involves and work as if you were already at that role (i.e. take up broader, more complex scope of work and more leadership) at least six months ahead. Know the market compensation for that role when you negotiate but often the boss is more willing to prioritize the title than the compensation. So, know your needs. Is it money or experience and role that is more important for you for the future?4. When did you know it was time, or you were ready, to break into a senior role?When you know you have an edge and unique perspective on that work area!5. In order to make that jump from middle management into a senior role, what did you do? What qualities and skills did you need to emphasize?Leadership, a sense of urgency, going above and beyond without being asked, and doing thorough and quality work are some of the qualities that would help you jump from the middle to a senior role. In terms of skills, it is important to have desirable software skills and some data analytics skills as well as presentation (PowerPoint or online presentation software or Tableau) to enhance your ability to express your ideas succinctly and visually to management. Writing and saying things succinctly is a very important skill throughout one's career too.
1. I experienced career stagnation several years ago and the sensing of the stagnation was simple: I wanted more; I wanted something different.2. I created my exit strategy but not without giving my leader an opportunity to first understand my needs and desires. When I realized time was wasting and progress wasn’t being made based on my desires; the wins I defined for myself, I provided my employer with a 6-week notice, placed my resume online, withdrew the balance of my 401k and went on vacation. Within a matter of weeks, I was recruited for a role in a different industry and secured a Financial Center Manager position. I relocated 18 months later to assume a different leadership role (same financial institution) to achieve my goals of more money + upward mobility. It was in this role that I was assigned a mentor which was one of the best things that could have happened in my career. For YEARS, I was focused on productivity and performance but in absence of “people”. I needed relationships and still do which is why it’s so important for women to have a mentor, coach and sponsor at every level of their career. One of my most valuable lessons learned is that we as women need both – performance and people because success is never a solo act.3. Because I believe women should excel at work and know their worth, I’m actually hosting a session November 6th called "The Promotion Session" to equip women for what’s required along their path to promotion because statistically speaking:•76% don’t feel confident requesting access to senior leadership•62% don’t ask for a raise•56% don’t ask for a new role or positionHere's what I know to be true: when seeking a promotion, clarity is your step one. What seat would you like to occupy and how much money would you like to make? If you’re unsure of which seat that is, get on someone’s calendar (leader, colleague, connections external to the organization) to have conversations about your options. Of course, you can conduct research online as well. There are several salary websites you can leverage to understand how much your seat is worth in the industry. However, check your employer’s intranet as well for job families, postings and salary information. Whatever you do, don’t sit on your ask. If you’re going to hear “no”, make sure it’s not from you! Be your first yes and go in the direction of your career dreams. Your step two is to create a plan; to design your path to promotion. Here’s what you should consider along the way besides position, people and pay:(1) potential – self-evaluate by understanding your competencies as well as your opportunities. You can also solicit feedback from others to confirm your strengths and how you’re showing up at work(2) personality – identify how you can demonstrate your worth consistently(3) pitfalls – be clear on who as well as what is standing in your way and stopping you from achieving the goal of securing your promotion.
Have you ever felt like your career growth has stalled? How did you sense career stagnation?Its happened a couple of times. I had to make some tough choices as part of a dual (sometimes we say duel) career family. I took some steps back to make it work for the family unit. I moved from an R1 University where I had a strong research agenda to a teaching university. The transition was tough but I changed track and enjoyed what I did. Then I started getting bored and wanted to take on something different - boredom is a good sign of stagnation for me. When you’ve felt that, what changes did you make or what did you do to get to the next level?I had to reorient myself, reset my goals and figure out what I really want. Part of it is making the time to be strategic while working full time. What are some tactical things you did to move up or move along?Some mapping, some changing investments and focusing on industry markers that demonstrate knowledge in training and development, taking on creative work that was a non-linear career move, speaking my mind in forums, being visible. If you had a conversation about wanting a promotion with your boss, how did you go about it? Honestly, it required a change of leadership and a new leader who bought into my vision. When did you know it was time, or you were ready, to break into a senior role?I tend to take charge in an informal way. And when the right opportunity came along I made a push for it. In order to make that jump from middle management into a senior role, what did you do? What qualities and skills did you need to emphasize?Leadership, expertise, network, passion. vision.
1. Seldom. I have always had the confidence to keep asking for more, proposing new ideas/tasks, basically creating work for myself that positively impacted the company's needs.2. I would brainstorm ideas, sometimes alone, sometimes with colleagues and at times with upper management. Identified gaps and improvement areas and prepared a brief plan to approach these. Taking initiatives like these highlighted my natural leadership skills and allowed me to always keep moving and more importantly keep developing. Remember you don't have to have all the answers, sometimes simply taking initiative and leading the charge is what needs to get done.3. Absolutely, I've come right out and asked for promotions, which hasn't always gone in my favour. I have also written and presented proposals on new ideas to expand my current position and better utilize my strengths to continue to develop myself and others. 4. Somedays I still don't know if I'm ready and I've been in a leadership role for 20 years haha. Each day we have wins and losses, the idea is to enjoy the journey, share what you know, be respectful and supportive to others. You're not in this alone and being at the top is not for everyone. You have to know what motivates you, what gives you satisfaction at the end of the workday. Focus growing your career around what makes you happy.5. Strength and fairness. Emphasize your ability to drive results. Your confidence to get the job done. Everyone in your organization needs to be heard, get your team, colleagues and the executives behind you by producing results and leading to success.
1. I was managing 17 staff at 21, and it's still taken me 35 years to report to a CEO, albeit for a small NFP. For me, career stagnation is changing roles but not being able to increase impact and responsibility. Nevertheless, I count myself lucky to have had the roles I've had.2. In one role, moving to the next level was a matter of taking opportunities when they arose, to apply for internal promotion to a new role but that's only if there's a possible career path. Otherwise, I've always had to move organisations.3. I've had a conversation but never with success. I find that it's very dependent on the personality characteristics of the person you report to. Some people like to lift people up, others to maintain a dynamic.4. Every time an opportunity came up it felt like time to me; I'm always game.5. I studied an MBA. But probably key things were building relationships with potential new managers, and otherwise the ability write good application letters and interview well.
1) Have you ever felt like your career growth has stalled? How did you sense career stagnation?Yes, several times.When I was pregnant with my second child I felt stuck and lost, I had an unsupportive manager and knew I wanted to move to leadership (I was a software engineer and wanted to become an engineering manager)I felt that I did not want to pursue the technical route, and loved working with people and helping others. I felt unhappy, unfulfilled, and stuck.2) When you’ve felt that, what changes did you make or what did you do to get to the next level? What are some tactical things you did to move up or move along?There was an opening for an engineering manager and I submitted my application. The hiring manager did not know me, therefore it was important for me to find someone who can recommend me. A previous manager of mine, whom I highly respected and knew me very well and my abilities was kind and encouraged me. He also spoke with the hiring manager and spoke on my behalf convincing him to give me a chance.IT worked! as I was able to get that job.Without that previous manager, I doubt if I could get that position.3) If you had a conversation about wanting a promotion with your boss, how did you go about it? How did you figure out what your comp should be and ask for it?I always asked for feedback, and did not settle for "You are doing a great job". I always asked, what can I do better? What am I not doing that I should be doing? What I should stop doing or do less of?I also asked what is needed from me in order to get to the next level and made sure to make a plan with my manager (match expectations, list the gaps, and plan to achieve them)In my last position, I had a coach who helped me address some of the challenges I was facing (related to internal politics with peers)Regarding compensation, I always did market research to figure out what is the industry standard for the role I was doing and asked a little bit more.4) When did you know it was time, or you were ready, to break into a senior role?Typically, when I felt comfortable, everything was coming naturally for me. I was not making an effort, I was not stressed from anything. I did not feel challenged, nothing scared me.That was a good sign for me that I need a more senior role that will challenge me.5)In order to make that jump from middle management into a senior role, what did you do? What qualities and skills did you need to emphasize?I had a discussion with my manager. I looked at the role definition and what was expected from a person in that role. and I asked y manager what I was lacking?I made sure to build a plan that will get me there together with my manager.In general, skills that are needed when you move up the chain are:- Thinking strategically rather than tactically- Having a vision- Ability to work with different kinds of people (different personalities and backgrounds)- Influencing people (without telling them, do this because I told you so)- Knowing to push back and challenge your upper management chain and stakeholders- Listen to people (really listen) and be empathic- Asking a lot of questions rather than telling people what to do.
1. Multiple times. The experience that stands out most for me was when I worked for this small consumer products company. Professionally, I grew a lot at that company – developed my business acumen, developed an owner’s mindset, and evolved into an effective executive coach. My manager recognized my potential, but the company wasn’t growing and in turn, that limited my growth opportunity. That experience taught me the value of working for a growing company. A company that is continuously growing is also growing opportunities for their people. 2. The benefit of outgrowing a job is that it gives you capacity to explore other things. I was very efficient in that role so it provided me with the time to go back to school part-time. I earned a M.A. in Organizational Psychology while I was there and leveraged that degree and new skills to secure a larger role at another company, in a new industry. 3. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t pitch myself for a promotion or had a conversation with my manager about what I needed to do in order to be ready for a promotion. I believe that you have to project-manage your own career. I stayed focus on where I wanted my career to go and what I needed to do in order to get there. I also believe that sometimes you have to create the opportunities for yourself and shine a light on needs that your manager may not be able to see themselves. Several of the roles I was promoted to did not exist on an org chart. I helped the company realize a need and that I was the most qualified to fulfill that need because of my skills. 4. I knew it was time to move into a senior role when my scope started to expand beyond a narrow or specialized focus. When I was invited to contribute to or own strategic projects. When my resources (budget & people) began to expand. All of these indicators made me realize that I was ready to transition into a senior role. 5. The skills and qualities that I needed to demonstrate was a strong business acumen, influencing people, leading large scale change, and the ability to be an effective internal coach to my business partners.
1. Yes, definitely have felt stalled in my career. I was at a company I really loved for a number of years, but I was getting too comfortable. Almost the feeling of being able to do your job with your eyes closed, so to say. I realized I needed to get out of the funk and get into a role that would test my skills and give me room to grow both as a marketer, and as a leader. 2. For me, I had to make the leap to a new company in order to get out of my comfort zone and grow my leadership skills. Unfortunately the company I was at didn't have the room/capacity to allow me the growth I was after. 3. I had many conversations with my boss at the time about where I wanted to go and she was incredibly supportive. It was above her where there was a stall, which sucked. We always communicated openly about what skills I needed to grow, what steps I should take, etc. I would say I didn't do a great job in terms of the comp side though - that has been a weakness of mine for sure. 5. I think one of the most important skills is listening. Match that with understanding how to ask the right questions and empower the people who are working under you and it can be a pretty cool outcome.
1. Have you ever felt like your career growth has stalled? How did you sense career stagnation?Yes and the sign is boredom which is either because I stopped learning or was told to go deeper into something I wasn't interested in. Growth - learning and for me career growth doesn't have to mean climbing the ladder. 2. When you’ve felt that, what changes did you make or what did you do to get to the next level? I left the company as felt my head was brushing the ceiling - I had outgrown them and that didn't mean there weren't more senior roles, I just wasn't interested in them and they were dragging their heels creating the one I really wanted.What are some tactical things you did to move up or move along?Made suggestions about a brand new role - wrote a description. Shifted my internal network.3. If you had a conversation about wanting a promotion with your boss, how did you go about it? How did you figure out what your comp should be and ask for it? I just asked him outright and made it easy for him to see where I could go.4. When did you know it was time, or you were ready, to break into a senior role?It's an interesting one as this has never been a conscious play I've always created my role i.e. done the one I have been given and then organically added other more interesting things and this helped my influence as this is how I think about seniority.