Q: I am a long-term general manager at a relatively small food-production company that recently appointed a new CEO. I have been tasked with familiarising her with certain company strategies. While I am happy to do this, I am worried that I won’t get the recognition I deserve. I would love for this to contribute to a chance for promotion. However, as I have been passed over a couple of times for promotion, I fear it won’t. Should I bring this up now before applying for the promotion?
A: The quick answer is: Yes. This is the ideal time to bring it up, as generally, a new CEO can mean a fresh start and new opportunities. Don’t assume just because you have previously shown interest in promotions, that the business is aware you are still interested. It is up to you to make your employers aware of your aspirations.
Key questions to ask yourself
From your question, it appears you have quite an in-depth knowledge of the business, and this is very likely the reason why you have been given the responsibility to bring the new CEO up to speed.
You need to ask yourself why you have not been successful in getting promoted. Have you received feedback on past interviews? If so, have you understood the reasoning behind this? Have you discussed professional career training and a development plan?
Who has tasked you with the role of familiarisation of the CEO – is it the business owner? Do they make, and will they continue to make, the decision about your career opportunities over and above the CEO?
Take some time to analyse your own strengths and areas of development. You need to be very critical of your capabilities, as self-awareness is a key skill for any business leader.
If possible, complete a 360 review. This is confidential feedback from direct-line reports which will also highlight key strengths and areas for development. Start the planning – begin with the end in mind: where do you want to be in the short to medium term? It is important to make this career-specific, not business-specific. A tip for planning is to make ‘Smart’ goals.
Specific: Ensure that your goals are clear, concise and focused on what you wish to achieve;
Measurable: Ensure you can track your progress throughout the plan;
Achievable: Your goals should be realistic and attainable;
Relevant: Align your own personal goals with the goals of the business;
Time: The key here is to set target dates and stick to those.
Meet and present
The first thing to do is to ensure the right people and key decision-makers are at the meeting – ideally, this should include the new CEO. Be conscious that the CEO may only just be in the door and, while it is an opportunity to align your aspirations with that of the CEO, they may not be able to make commitments or put plans in place at this stage. If this is the case, you need to ensure you confirm a time to follow up and stick to it.
When you do meet, discuss your career goals and how you plan to achieve these in line with benefiting the business overall. It is important that when you present your goals, you align these with the goals of the business and ensure your employers are aware of how developing and promoting you as a key employee will benefit the organisation overall.
Set out a plan that is agreeable to both yourself and the CEO, and as noted, make sure the goals are ‘Smart’. The key is to ensure that you set timelines and stick to these. Finally, you appear to be driven in progressing your career. However, if you come to believe that the opportunity that you are looking for in the development of your career is not with your employer, you may need to start assessing external opportunities.
It is important that you make an educated decision on this move, and investigate all opportunities within your organisation before looking for opportunities elsewhere.
Collins McNicholas Limerick
Collins McNicholas Recruitment and HR Services Group
This article was originally published in the business section of The Sunday Independent on Sunday, July 9th, 2018, and can be viewed here.