18 Aug Campaign Managers Aren’t Just For Politics — They Can Win You Promotions, Too
Have you been stuck in your current job longer than you expected? Look around you — where are your teammates from when you were starting out? Are some of them managers now?
Why were they promoted ahead of me? you may ask. You’re more skilled, hardworking and talented than your peers, so why did they get promoted instead of you?
Unfortunately, you’re not working in a perfect world where job promotions are solely dependent on past performance and skills. Politics, favoritism and perception management will get in your way — even if you’re the most talented person in your office.
So how’s an ordinary employee with no connections going to get promoted?
Game the system. It’s already rigged anyway, so make it work for you. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
The Underdog’s Trump Card to the Dirty and Unfair World of Corporate Politics
A campaign manager isn’t necessarily a mentor. He also doesn’t have to be your boss, because if you’re really good, your boss might want to keep you for himself. Here are a few things to look for in a campaign manager:
- Upper-management position: Someone with influence in the position you’re aiming for, or at least someone who has worked in a related position.
- More work experience in your target position: To give you credible suggestions for improving your performance and people skills. Like a political campaign manager, they can make you aware of problems you never knew you had or point you to the resources (or people) you’ll need.
- Longer tenure in the company: Familiarity with the inner workings of the company’s political system is a definite advantage. Someone with at least five years’ tenure can easily identify confidantes of key decision-makers in the office. These people are the management’s ears on the ground, so enlisting their help — or leveraging their power to mention your name to upper management — will help your cause. Better yet, they’ll tell you who to watch out for and who’s your competition.
- Well-connected: Your campaign manager can hook you up with mentors and other managers that play a role in the employees’ career advancement.
As you can see, a campaign manager isn’t just there to talk you up. Oh, no — he’s much more crucial than that.
How to Be Persuasive and Win the Support of a Good Campaign Manager
- Check with HR. Many big companies like Intel, Cisco, Amex and Time Warner have established programs to help employees advance their career.
- Research is the name of the game. Find out their interests, current projects, possible problems and work background. You’ll need this information to craft a convincing request.
- Perfect your request/elevator speech. It should be detailed, subtly persuasive and brief — no longer than two minutes. Include who you are, what you want, why you chose them to help and, most importantly, what’s in it for them. Ramit Sethi, creator of the Dream Job course, has an excellent email template on his website.
Don’t forget that you’re the one asking a favor. Give them something in return — lunch, coffee, a book on their Amazon wish list or help completing a tedious task. So what if you have to run a few errands if that’s going to help you get a promotion, right?
Got Your Campaign Manager? Here’s How to Get Noticed (and Get Promoted)
- Get a detailed job description of the position you’re aiming for. Your campaign manager can introduce you to someone who holds your target position. Approach them and casually inquire about their work. If they seem happy to share, ask specific questions like “What’s the most important thing on your plate right now?”or “What’s the most challenging part of your job?” Their answers will reveal the skills you’ll need to earn that position.
- Become a protege. After investigating your target role, ask if they’re willing to take you as a protege, someone willing to be trained — or do their boring tasks — in exchange for experience. But don’t act like you’re going to take over their job. Act like an eager intern, if you must.
- Start with simple tasks. Convince your new-found mentor to teach you the simplest task on their to-do list. Emphasize how much time they can save time by delegating less-critical tasks to you.
Meanwhile, your campaign manager is spreading word about your eagerness to learn and initiative to help others to the folks in upper-management. Before, you were a nobody; now you’re a performer and a team player.
- Excel at the boring tasks, then ask for something more challenging. Offer to help them complete at least three projects once you gain their confidence. These are enough for you to learn the critical skills required for that position, while simultaneously exposing you to unforeseen problems that may arise in that line of work.Completing these projects will double your credentials in terms of skills and decision-making under duress. After that, no one will dare say you just got lucky because of your mentor’s help.
By that time, your mentor’s colleagues are already comfortable around you. You can count on them to support your campaign by sharing your good work with their boss.
And your campaign manager? They’re watching from the sidelines, gathering feedback about you and then spreading the positive word of mouth further. Your favorability ranking and name-recognition among executives will increase, sealing your lead as a good bet for a promotion.
- Find areas for improvement. Chances are, your time as a protegee revealed several areas for improvement in your target job. Perhaps your mentor complained about a specific issue or their colleagues mentioned it in passing. But they don’t know how to solve it.
- Study the problem and research who to pitch. Ask your campaign manager to help you create a proposal and submitting it to the right person. This proposal should be backed up with detailed reports and a solid projection of the savings or better production it would yield. Don’t have access to the reports you need? Ask your mentor to connect you with the right folks.
Lastly, don’t forget to credit the people who helped you, as this shows you have the makings of a good leader. Then, you wait.
Your campaign manager probably knows the head of the department, so they can update you about your proposal’s status. If need be, they can attest to the reliability of your suggestions. After the proposal is approved, you can bet they’ll promote you into their ranks.
In the unlikely event that doesn’t happen, at least the campaign boosted your popularity and skills. Next time there’s an open position, the decision-makers in your company will remember your name and potential. You’ll be leading the race for a promotion, and you’ll have enough powerful backers who can turn the tides in your favor.
Would you consider getting a campaign manager? Who would you choose? Share in the comments!