Most people believe that the best way to get promoted is to work hard, show creativity, do a great job, don’t get involved in politics and support those around and under you to show that you have leadership skills.

Unfortunately, according to some “experts”, this now appears to be not true.

American career advisor Penelope Trunk has written a piece posted on BNET on “Managing Up” (in French loosely translated to “Baiser les culs” or “Arse kissing”) that covers this area in such a simplistic way that I felt it needed more clarification and expansion. As I have some strong views on this topic of career management (see “Managing your Career “ posted July 14, 2010), I have decided that I should build and continue on her theme with some advice for those that wish to climb the corporate ladder.

So, with thanks to Penelope Trunk, and continuing in her image, herewith my golden rules for getting a promotion.

1. Never do anything different or creative.

Whilst senior executives pay lip service to the need for creativity, it is something that they do not trust and which makes them suspicious and nervous. It is better if you do everything exactly the same as your boss, even if you consider him incompetent and incapable of doing his job … he is, after all, the boss, so must be right. Dress like him, speak like him and work like him. He does not realise that he is incompetent and so believes that everything that he does is exactly the right thing to do, so if he sees you as a reflection of himself he will be more likely to believe that you are the right person for everything that is wonderful in the world.

2. Be nice to everyone, especially your boss, and smile a lot, but be careful that you do not overdo this as you will be classified as the company village idiot.

Penelope says “… there is no better way to ensure a good performance review if you are well liked by your boss …”. The best way to do this is to find out the things that your boss loves most in life such as Rolex watches, expensive wines (like 1961 Margaux) and silver Montblanc pens, and leave these little thoughtful gifts on their desk in the weeks leading up to your performance review. If your boss accepts these you have nothing to fear. Note that this is unnecessary if you follow rule 5 below.

By Gilbert LE MOIGNE, Source: Collection particulière; via Wikimedia Commons

Montblanc Sterling Silver biro and pencil by ElinorD; via Wikimedia Commons

3. Only do work that contributes to your boss’s success rather than to your own.

Penelope says “If you do lots of work but it’s all outside the parameters of your boss’s goals, your boss won’t notice.” So rather than do your own job, let your boss know that you are prepared to help by doing everything that they find tedious. Offer to answer their phone and emails, help them meet their deadlines, write their tweets, do their monthly reports, clean their shoes and press their shirts. This will mean that you will have little time to do the job that you are actually being paid for, but you will become a critical success element for your boss and they will remember this when it comes to performance review time. However, don’t become totally indispensible as they will never let you leave this critical role in their own support and success structure, so any thoughts of promoting you will be off the table.

4. Penelope says “Don’t wait for your performance review to fight for a raise”.

She points out that you need to find out who are all the influencers and decision makers on the subject of your raise and that you need to “… be managing all of them …” making sure that they love you before performance review time as by then “… it’s too late to ingratiate yourself…”. She is 100% right, as kissing corporate backsides takes time and effort. One needs to develop the right lip-pursing techniques, the ability to breathe through your ears, a proper look of subservient adoration and the development of protective callouses on your knees to be able to do this effectively, and this takes years of perseverance and practice.

Author: Cheselden, William, 1688-1752; via Wikimedia Commons

5. If all else fails, get incriminating photographs of your boss in as may compromising positions as possible.
Take him/her out and get them drunk, and take photos when they do anything embarrassing. Buy “professional temporary partners” for them and secretly videotape their indiscretions. When it comes to your performance review let them have a small preview sample of your evidence. It is a very brave boss that will give a bad review to, or pass over for promotion, a well prepared blackmailer in favour of a hard working competent colleague.

Penelope’s most critical advice is that your boss “… doesn’t actually care about your goals per se…”. (This is important advice as your boss is the one that set them in the first place, proving that he is obviously the CEO’s son-in-law and as dim-witted as a cabbage). Her advice is that you show your boss that you are prepared to keep shifting your goals at will to support his goals, and thus the goals of the company. If you do this all the time, it will become impossible to measure your performance at any time, and will mean that your boss will have to give you a high grading just to cover up his confusion about what it is that you actually do.

However, if your initial allocated goals were so immaterial and meaninglessthat they can be changed at the whim of your boss’s daily bio-rhythms and the winds, you should have realised by now that you were never actually considered to be any part at all of the success of your company, your division or your boss and you should therefore prepare your CV, get it out in the marketplace and find somewhere else to work, preferably in a company where no-one has ever heard of Penelope Trunk.


6 Responses to HOW TO GET PROMOTED

  1. John Du Bois says:

    I just wanted to say its not worthy of a comment. I have seen incompetent people promoted because their boss didn’t see them as a threat despite their poor performances and they never challenged so maybe she has got it right…….for those who choose this path. Not for me thanks

  2. leshayman says:

    Hi John,
    The better the company, the less this happens. I am just appalled that this so-called career advisor would tell people to “work-less” and basically “get on your knees” to get a promotion. She has a large following , so it should be no surprise that so many companies are rubbish and are struggling in tough times.

  3. Ramki says:

    Unfortunately, I have seen this happening even in some great companies.
    This is sad.

    However, In the long run, bad bosses cannot stop good subordinates from growing.

  4. leshayman says:

    Ramki, I agree. I believe that ultimately good performance will always be recognised over politics. Les

  5. Robert says:

    You had me going there for a while. I could not believe I was reading this from you, of all people.
    Why wake up in the morning, if one does not plan to make a difference?
    Rule #1 in hiring, look for those passionate about changing the world.

  6. leshayman says:

    Robert, I will post my view on how to “earn” a promotion in next few days. Les

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