How to Get Your Boss' Job

Bob Schieffer's commentary on Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Face The Nation.
CBS
It takes more than just doing your job well to get ahead in the corporate world. To move ahead, you need to learn how to do your boss' job and to make sure that your own replacement is in the wings.

Financial advisor Ray Martin visits The Early Show to offer thoughts on how one can increase the likelihood of promotion and to list the traits that promotable people share.

There is no doubt that many management jobs will begin opening up. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey, 32 percent of all civilian workers who hold full-time jobs are age 55 and over. In this age group, only 3.7 percent are unemployed. That huge sucking sound you could hear over the next 10 years may be older workers leaving their jobs.

Clearly, this will not happen overnight. In a recent Gallup poll, 46 percent surveyed expect to retire later because of the stock market decline. Real life trends indicate that, instead of hanging on to old jobs until they drop, late-stage workers will leave their current jobs to seek "bridge jobs" - part-time, short-term or self employed jobs - before they finally exit the workforce. The reason for this is that as older workers downsize expenses, they will seek jobs in locations and on terms that are more in line with the lifestyle they will want to live as they begin their retirement years.

Younger workers with talent and ambition will want to be positioned to get these soon-to-be-vacant jobs. If you like the company and region where you work but want a more responsible job, there are some things you can do to increase your possibility for promotion while you stay put.

This advice is particularly important at this time of year because accomplishments in the second half of the year are most likely to remembered in year-end evaluations, considerations for a bonus or for a promotion. Clearly, it's important to perform all year long, but there may be some things you can do to turn it up a notch now.

Career consultants all have the same fundamental advice: to increase your promotion probability, you must learn your bosses' job and train your own replacement. Martin also suggests that you find new ways to grow revenue. A growing business can fund expansion and promotions. Nothing gets more positive recognition than adding to the bottom line.

Here are some tips for increasing your promotion probability while staying with the same company:

Don't do what you are told. Never respond to your boss' request with only what was asked. Instead of providing a list of information requested, think of why your boss asked for it and provide thought-provoking analysis and conclusions with it. This will show your boss that you are thinking ahead. The way you get promoted is not by doing what you are told, but by taking the initiative to do more and to come up with new ways to do things.

Under promise and over deliver. Give reasonable time frames for delivering on requested tasks and set reasonable expectations for your finished work product - then blow the socks off your boss by delivering more and earlier. Soon, you'll be recognized for "consistently exceeding expectations."

Always make your boss look good. Meet regularly with your boss and ask her what challenges and projects she is working on. If there is a problem your boss has to solve, think through it and have a solution ready to offer.

Let your talent do the talking. Your value to your company is a reflection of how well you do your job. Also, jump at the chance to complete additional training and education, then master your new skills. Let your talent do your talking so you won't have to blow your own horn.

According to career gurus, these are the top qualities of people who get promoted:

They work for a company and for leaders they respect and admire. As a result they put their heart into their work, aspire to be like the boss and perform without holding back.

They know the business and always keep the "big picture" in mind . They know how the daily tasks fit into the overall process of running and growing the business.

They play office politics but not the kind of smarmy politics that gets the bad press. Instead, they know how to reach a compromise that satisfies most of the people involved. They also know how to bring objectors into the loop in advance and how to mollify them before a controversy erupts.

They get things done because they know that, while there are lots of people who can have meetings and talk about work, the ones who can execute and implement are the ones who are the most valuable to a company.

They have strong technical skills and work hard on technical projects. They don't fear taking on new technical tasks or learning how to use new technology to do things in new and improved ways.

They work beyond "nine to five" - not just on the work of the day, but by taking classes, reading books and getting extra training that continuously increases their human capital.