If you want to make the conversation as comfortable as possible, there are certain steps you can take to prepare.
1. Do your homework: When discussing your promotion you will need to prove that you are ready for more responsibility, so prepare a list of your achievements and demonstrate that you’re thinking about your long-term future with the organisation. Your manager will be more likely to support your ambitions if you show loyalty to your company.
2. Request feedback: Ask your manager about how you are perceived within the team and which skills you ought to work on to add more value. Asking for concrete feedback can really help you identify any weaknesses or gaps, and help you to progress.
3. Plan the timing: Although there’s no perfect time to ask for a promotion, having a plan and being realistic in terms of considering your position within the company and the amount of experience needed for a promotion are critical. Consider what’s happening both within your team and across the organisation, and identify opportunities that may be appropriate for you to consider. Thinking in this way will demonstrate your understanding of the company’s broader business needs and will position you well for a more senior role.
4. Get a mentor: Either find one yourself or ask your manager to help you identify those individuals who could be helpful in supporting your long-term career. There are many benefits to having a mentor from referring you for roles in other areas of the organisation to ensuring you are on their radar during hiring discussions.
5. Acquire new skills and knowledge: Knowledge is a powerful tool and when used appropriately, can help build your credibility and success at the organisation. So network, use information and data to help drive decisions, read widely and think about colleagues’ perceptions of you. In doing this you will build your credibility and reputation, and senior executives will see you as someone willing to make that extra effort.
6. Follow Up: Make sure you leave a promotion discussion with your manager with an idea of what will happen next. Having a written action plan will reinforce your commitment and help your manager to evaluate your progress and support your promotion.
Career progression requires a two way dialogue – you need to vocalise your ambitions and in return, your manager should provide progression support and feedback. Ultimately, remember that you control your future – and through networking, preparing and vocalising your ambitions, you can achieve your your career goals.
Katy Rowland is head of junior talent, Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Bank of America Merrill Lynch