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“There are only three competencies that are very critical,” Lawrence Young said about companies’ considerations whiles identifying potential promotees. “One is how you handle yourself; whether you are respectful, whether you have integrity, whether you’re trustworthy. The second is how your teammates feel about you.”
Mr Young built his decades-long HR career working for big named companies such as The Walt Disney Company, Nike and Asia Pacific Breweries. Though retired, he continues to share his skills and expertise by providing mentoring and consulting services. He still wears many hats today as co-founder at Human Resources & Finance Community (HRFC), director at Mentoring & Guidance AIB, and co-founder and director at Mentoring in Careers, Business & Organisations, to name a few.
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“Finally, have you impacted the business in very positive ways that would allow you to showcase yourself as a candidate that’s ready for this promotion?”
He talks about a case from when he was with Phillip Bank in Cambodia. At that time, the company was going through a very high attrition rate, and one employee informed him of his intention to join another organisation.
“We couldn’t afford to lose him, so we asked what we could do to change his mind. Then, he said: ‘Well, you can promote me and increase my salary to 20% more than what they offered me,’” the HR expert recalls.
Back then, Mr Young had raised his concerns that pandering to the employee’s demands would set a precedence that’s “very unhealthy for the organisation”. He adds, “But we also knew that there would be a big hole if he left the organisation, so we finally agreed that we would do it. But what happened is that the employee suffered the consequence of what he did… and he had to leave after that.”
Understanding the minimum requirements
When it comes to getting promoted, there are various components to ensuring one is ready and able to handle a new role. These include a person’s work performance over the past two years, how he is as a person and how he relates to others around him, and whether he is actually ready for it.
“Has he got the minimum requirement, not just in the technical skills, but also the soft skills? That’s a big requirement right now in the future of work,” Mr Young says.
While promotion benefits an individual, success in that role is determined by his ability to work with others and how others perceive him. Mr Young acknowledges that adaptability — or the ability to be flexible — is important, but it’s not the only thing. He raises that it’s crucial to also have adoptability, the ability to listen to other people.
“If you want adaptability, you’ve got to add the other piece as well. Because if you’re not going to listen to other people’s views, most of them will start not wanting to work with you,” he says.
“Every time your team meets up with you, do they feel good about who you are? This is something you’ll need to translate at an interview,” he says.
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The definition of being promotion-ready
This then begs the question: How can employees know whether they’re ready to be promoted?
One of the common mistakes employees make when asking for a job promotion is to focus too much on the “I”. “There’s a lot of ‘I’ in the whole equation,” he divulges. “I think that’s a common mistake because when you are in a work environment, you need to take reality into account. The organisation is not just about any individual.”
He shares an example of an employee from Nike who was on the job for six months and believed he was ready for a promotion, claiming he knew what he was doing. “But actually, they don’t! They don’t.”
Confidence, Mr Young says, is a key contributing factor. But it’s not simply about having all the pieces in place, but also knowing you will work for it.
“If you feel that you’re confident you have the ability to make sure you will make an effort to get to that space in the shortest time possible, go for it!”