Hoping For a Promotion? Read This First…

For three years, Jeni had been hoping for that big promotion. She’d worked eye-watering hours, ensuring she’d meticulously managed every supplier across her entire category. She knew more about the company than anyone in her department. According to her boss, she ‘never made a mistake.’ Surely she’d finally be given a chance at an executive-level role!

But when review time came, she wasn’t promoted. Her world came crashing down. What more could be required? It turns out, quite a lot…

Have you ever found yourself hoping for good weather? Or perhaps you did something embarrassing and you hoped no one would notice? Hope can be positive; it can give you a reason to believe that something positive can happen. But hope can also be nerve-racking, especially when you realise that it gives you scant little control. 

So why, then, do so many of us simply ‘hope’ for a promotion?  

The reason is that many of us, and women in particular, think that our work speaks for itself. We believe that if we strive for perfection, our hard work will naturally be rewarded with a payrise and a promotion. Unfortunately though, the opposite has been proven to be true. Perfectionism at work can severely hold us back. There’s a whole host of other things we should be doing to achieve our career goals. 

Why doesn’t hope work? And what should you be doing instead? 

Why hope is not a strategy 

Procurious’ Founder Tania Seary really hit the nail on the head at the Big Ideas 2017 when she said that hope is not a strategy. 

“Don’t just sit around and hope for that big career break” she said. 

And the big reason that hope isn’t a strategy? Unequivocally, Tania says, it is because: 

“[Being proactive about your career] is something that everyone around you is already doing. Last week, for example, 65,000 people read our Introduction to Procurement course.” 

Hope is not a strategy.

So there you have it. Hope cannot be your strategy when everyone else around you is being much more proactive. 

But if you do choose to be proactive, what should you do? 

1. Build strong relationships

As much as it might feel contradictory, having your head down and being as productive as possible isn’t the key to getting ahead. One thing that is much more important is to be noticed for that hard work and to have people vouch for you, and for that reason building strong relationships is absolutely key. 

Building strong relationships doesn’t mean simply remembering someone’s name and having them know yours. It means that you make an impression on them; it means that you use your stellar influence and you’re remembered for the right reasons. It means that if someone is asking around, wondering whether to promote you, that they’ll put their hand up and vouch for you. 

These strong relationships often come by way of stakeholders you already know and work with (including your peers in other departments, your staff and your manager’s manager) so ensure you invest in nurturing those relationships as much as you can.

2. Invest in a mentor 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: one of the best ways to get where you want to go (or to figure out where you want to go in the first place) is to find a mentor. Mentors can be like mirrors (flattering ones, let’s hope!) that not only provide you critical advice, but also play the role of ‘unreasonable friend’ and tell you not just what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. 

And as great as this sounds, sometimes it isn’t as simple as finding that one mentor and being catapulted into the corner office. A mentoring relationship is a relationship after all, and there’s a few things you should do, namely, get to know yourself and pinpoint where you need help, as well as relax and let the relationship unfold, if you are looking for that special person or people in your life.

But of course, in order to let the relationship unfold, you do need to have it in the first place, so for this reason, broadening your network is very important. 

3. Broaden your network (to increase opportunities by up to 80%) 

It’s true that sometimes your mentor might find you. That sometimes the inspiration and help you need might be right in front of you. 

But if that doesn’t appear to be the case, you certainly won’t meet him or her by hiding in your office and not meeting the people who matter. 

Back in 2015, Procurious’ Co-Founder Tania Seary compared large swathes of the procurement industry to the Amazonian tribes who are completely cut off from each other (and the world). While the networking capability of many of us has improved since that time, there’s still far too many procurement professionals who know very few people outside of their immediate team. 

And this has very tangible career impacts. If you’re not familiar with this statistic, you absolutely should be: up to 80% of all jobs are filled via networking. Yes, that means that without a network, you have 80% less chance of getting that big promotion or next job. 

Your network can also help you when you need to get ‘real’ at work. 

4. ‘Own’ your family life at work

At the end of the day, the large majority of organisations want to hire and promote people – not just ‘workers.’ The best leaders in the best organisations are ones who are empathetic, kind, and understand the needs and demands of their employees … especially the fact that the majority of us have families outside of work to manage. 

Of course, in some organisations where the culture encourages long hours, bringing your ‘whole self’ to work can feel a little uncomfortable. But as Procurious’ Tania Seary found out, often doing things such as bringing your children to work can elicit praise and admiration for those around you.

For women in particular, referencing your children at work – let alone bringing them – can activate unhelpful stereotypes, such as the discriminatory and highly frustrating (yet still common) mommy track. It can take a strong network to help you push through these stereotypes. However, with the right support, the best organisations will recognise and appreciate you showing your true self at work. 

5. Embrace change … and start now 

Being proactive about your career is not something that should start when you reach a certain point. Or even something that should start next year. It should start right now, with you, taking positive steps towards achieving your goals. Or at least figuring out why they might be. 

Right now has never been so important, especially as we find ourselves at many critical turning points as the world recovers from the COVID pandemic. There are many breaking opportunities in the changing landscape for procurement professionals to identify new sources of value and create new category strategies.

If you’re a female in procurement right now might be our one opportunity to achieve gender equality, once and for all. It’s high time you stopped ‘hoping’ for that promotion, and went out there, broadened your network, and did whatever you can to turn hope into a strategy that will help you succeed. 

Want a hand up along the way? Procurious and The Faculty are excited to announce our inaugural female empowerment program BRAVO. BRAVO is an eight month journey for high-achieving women in procurement who want to garner the network, skills and confidence to succeed in their careers. 
BRAVO is an exclusive program, and most spaces are already filled. Register your interest here for a limited time only.