8 Things That Make Managers Instantly Want to Promote You

Two colleagues shaking hands in an office setting, representing qualities that make managers want to promote someone

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June 22, 2024 at 10:5PM UTC

Are you looking to climb the ladder at your workplace? There are ways to make yourself stand out as the perfect person to promote—and sometimes, those tactics are quite simple. 

Beyond seeing an employee do exceptional work, what makes managers want to promote someone? We asked 8 managers what makes them instantly want to promote a direct report. Check out their insights, and consider adopting these traits: 

1. Have a strategic mindset

"In my work helping early career women navigate their first step from an entry-level position to a manager position, I have found that a strategic mindset is a key factor of their promotability. People with a strategic mindset are the ones who, in the face of challenges or setbacks, ask themselves: 'How else can I do this? Is there a better way of doing this? What are things I can do to help myself and others?' Most importantly, they seek to understand the strategic direction and priorities of the organization and align their own strategic efforts with the strategy of the broader organization." — Jennifer Scott Mobley, Ph.D. Founder of Early Career Women Collective

2. Take risks and be OK with failure

"The people I seek to promote are those who are constantly learning and evolving. They aren’t always the ones with all the answers—they’re the ones who find the answers. They fail forward, ever mindful that to grow we have to learn from our mistakes. They reinvent, rejuvenate and show me new ways of doing our work." — Roberta Schmidt, Diversity & Inclusion Project Manager

3.  Maintain a can-do attitude 

"I’d say that the employees that stand out for promotion are those with a positive, can-do attitude to taking on new challenges and responsibilities. Often, employees up for promotion are already functioning above their current job specification—they get themselves into a position where the company would be crazy not to promote them, because through promotion they can take full advantage of their additional skills and everything they have to offer." — Kim Allcott, Business Development Director at Allcott Residential

4. Have a passion for learning

"I desire to promote individuals who show a life-long passion for learning, who are genuinely excited to share their knowledge with others and who are always looking for ways they can contribute to their team. These are the individuals who make those around them feel like their contribution matters. Their influence changes team and company cultures for the better wherever they go. Teams that have these individuals at their helms accomplish more than teams that don't." — Abigail Church, Organizational Development Consultant

5. Be the person others want to lean on

"For me, when deciding whether to promote someone on my team, I just ask myself, 'Could I go on vacation while this person fills in for me? Would I be happy? Would they maybe do an even better job than me?' If the answer is 'yes,' they should be promoted." — Meghan Titzer, Director of Product Development

6. Embrace stretch assignments

"Taking the initiative to seek (and accept) stretch assignments shows me that the employee is motivated and wants to grow and learn. They take risks and have the courage to step out of their comfort zone to improve themselves and provide added value to the company without expecting a pay raise." — Melissa McCormick, Owner of MX3 Business Solutions  

7. Seek solutions

"I am impressed by the employee who independently finds innovative solutions to problems. We all experience challenges, but few are proactive enough to seek out a resolve. When someone can share with me the solution they’ve approached a problem with, even if it fails, shows they understand and are confident in their own capacities, and can help me be that much more innovative and effective in my own approach." — Nicole Dove, Host of Urban Girl Corporate World Podcast

8. Do memorable work that is unique to you

"When an employee leads with their unique skillsets, intelligent ideas, and a consistent element of self-leadership and drive it is visible and memorable. Being memorable from a place of in-service sets apart those who are committed to the overall success of the business. That comes down to a can-do attitude, dependable and credible work ethic and product, and a feeling of oneness within the team or department. If your employee is doing their job extraordinarily well, they are indispensable to you, which is EXACTLY the time to reward them with a promotion." — Randi Levin, Transitional Life Strategist at Randi Levin Coaching

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