How do Remote Workers Get Promoted?


How do remote workers get promoted?  You might ask this question if you have a telecommuting job and your boss seems to overlook you.

For telecommuters to win promotions, they should focus on four key areas.  First, develop rapport with coworkers.  Second, become a go-to person in the company.  Third, build up your skills.  Finally, think strategically and plan for your future role.

Read on to find out how to address these four critical areas.

Develop Rapport with Coworkers

One method that helps telecommuters get promotions involves developing a good working relationship with coworkers.  For one thing, this will make it easier to work with them in the future.

Also, coworkers can act as advocates and help you to win a promotion.  Finally, you can learn from your coworkers and teach them, so that everyone can contribute more to the company.

Offer to Help Coworkers

Everyone needs a little help at work sometimes.  First, ask your coworkers about their current projects. Express an interest and ask for details about a project you think you can help with.  Think about what you can offer with your current skill set, and find a way to help out.

Example

At one of my old jobs, we switched from Microsoft Access databases to SQL databases.  Many of my coworkers did not know how to write a SQL query.  (A SQL query is a way to get information from a database.)

In my research, I found a feature in Access that automatically writes a SQL query for you.  I remembered that a coworker had asked me about how to write a SQL query.  I told him about this trick, and he was so happy when I did.  It only took a minute to tell him about it, but it saved him hours of frustration!

In most cases, your coworkers will love getting a little help on a project.  If you offer this kind of help, they will sing your praises!  This might not seem like a big deal.  However, it can give you a leg up in getting a promotion.

Your boss will often ask your coworkers about you before making a decision about your promotion.  That will work in your favor if your coworkers sing your praises.  They will, if you show an interest in their work, and help when you can!

Ask Your Coworkers for Help

On the flip side, your coworkers might also want to help you.  Once in a while, ask a coworker a clarifying question. If your coworker has expertise in the topic, he will probably talk your ear off!  He might also offer some helpful advice, and tell you things you did not know.

When you use this information, make sure to tell your boss about your super-helpful, in-house consultant.  This has a few benefits. First, you make your coworker look good.  Second, you build rapport with your coworker.  Finally, you show your boss that you work well with others. You also show off your resourcefulness.

Example

Let’s say you build an Excel spreadsheet that makes calculations easier.  However, you must copy and paste data into the file each week.  This tedious process wastes precious time. If your coworker is a VBA programmer, ask him for help!   He can automate the copying and pasting of data into the spreadsheet. You tell your boss about the collaboration.  The result: both you and your coworker look good.

One thing to keep in mind: do not ask too much of your coworkers!  They have their own projects and deadlines.  First, ask if a coworker has a lot going on.  If not, see if you can talk briefly about a question you have.  This shows respect for your coworker’s time and knowledge.

Become a Valuable Resource

Another way that telecommuters get promotions involves getting the boss to see them differently.  You want the boss to see you as a valuable resource in the company.  However, I am not suggesting that you perform some type of alchemy, where you turn yourself into gold. (Although that would be awesome!)

If you can prove your value, the boss will consider you a stronger candidate for promotion.  In order to create this impression, you should think about putting in extra time on projects.  You should also create helpful resources for your team.  Finally, offer good ideas, along with ways to make them a reality.

Go the Extra Mile on Projects

To go the extra mile on a project, you need to establish some milestones.

When you think you have finished a project, look it over.

First, think about any objections a customer might have. Make sure to address these objections.

Second, think about any questions your boss might ask.  Think back to other projects – what did the boss ask about?  Answer these questions for the current project.

Finally, look at the project with a critical eye, and see if you can find any flaws.  If so, think about how to solve them.  This process will go faster on a group project, since you can ask coworkers for feedback.

Create Helpful Resources

If you find the answer to a question that nobody else has answered, write it down!  When people ask this question, you can refer them to your resource. The same goes for questions that a few different people have asked you.  You have important knowledge on this topic, so create a guide that you can give to coworkers.

It might also help to compile questions and answers into some type of Q&A (Question and Answer) guide.  New employees will love you for this!  Your manager might love you too.  These guides can speed up the process of getting new hires ready to work.

You can also invite coworkers to update the Q&A guide as needed.  This minimizes time spent searching for answers, and compiles company knowledge in one convenient place.

Contribute Good Ideas and Offer to Implement Them

Can you find a way to improve productivity, increase sales, decrease expenses, or otherwise help the bottom line?  If so, tell your boss and coworkers! This could mean anything from a new software system to a custom Excel function, program, or spreadsheet.

It could also mean voice-to-text software, or shortcuts in your workflow that might help coworkers.  Once you have approval, offer to take the lead in implementing the new solution.

On a broader scale, if you have ideas for a new market to pursue, discuss it with your team.  If you have ideas on how to solve a problem, make it known.  The boss may not adopt every single idea.  However, if you demonstrate creative thinking, you will stand out for promotion.  Also, having the courage to speak up and explain your idea shows that you have leadership potential.

Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Product

Whether your company offers a product, service, or software solution, learn it!  Know the product inside and out, so you can answer any questions that customers or coworkers have.  This will further build your reputation as a valuable resource.

In addition to helping customers and coworkers, you can also help your company and management.  When you answer frequent questions about your product, you know all about the problems people have with it.  This gives you insight into how the company can improve the product.  You can then talk to the right people and get the ball rolling to make the improvement.

Example

You have answered three questions today about how to import data in your company’s software system.  Customers ask this question frequently, so a shortcut might make sense.

Perhaps there should be a button that starts an import/export wizard for files in your software system.  If you talk to a software engineer, you might find out that he could make this change in a day.  This improvement could retain existing customers and win new ones!

Go to Industry Events

This might require some travel.  However, you will have the chance to learn tricks of the trade from people at other companies.  You will also stay up to date on the latest technology and ideas in your industry.  Of course, you know that you can’t turn down the awesome swag and gear they give out at those conferences!

These events also give you a chance to build your network.  For instance, you can meet people in more senior roles at other companies.  You can also ask them how they ended up in their jobs.  Their insight can help you to focus on the right skills in your industry.

Finally, industry events give you experience in presenting your company and its products in a positive light.

Build Your Skills

Improving their skills will help telecommuters get promotions.  With more and better skills, you have a better chance of getting a promotion, or at least a raise.  In the worst case scenario, improving your skills makes you a stronger candidate in the job market.  If you cannot get the promotion you want, you can leave for greener pastures.

Communication

Communication skills are essential for getting a promotion.  For example, you need to check in with your boss often. Get into the habit of writing brief summaries that explain your work for the day.  Also provide detail on any problems you face, and possible solutions.  This shows that you are thinking about how to solve problems, and it gives your boss a chance for input.

Use your daily summaries and your boss’s input to create a weekly review.  The purpose is to remind your boss of what you accomplished, such as problems solved and work completed. Go from there to create monthly and quarterly reviews.  Also, make suggestions about possible future projects!

Communicating well with coworkers will also help you in your bid for a promotion.  As mentioned above, asking for help and giving help will build rapport with coworkers.  Both of these rely on good communication skills. Practice explaining what you know to family and friends, and you will get better at teaching your coworkers.

Continue Your Education

Sometimes, your boss or company will want to see advanced education to consider you for a promotion.  This might mean an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree.

It might also mean some type of seminar, certificate, or technology training.  Express a willingness to undergo this training, and always volunteer for extra training.  Classes outside your area of expertise might help you to make the case for a promotion later!

In addition to regular classes or seminars, your education continues at work each day.  Try to learn something new from coworkers whenever possible.  Also, try to find something new that you can share each day.  This ensures that you continue to develop your skills and knowledge daily.  It also reinforces the view that you are a valuable resource and a go-to person.

Leadership

You can build your leadership skills in many different ways.  For example, to develop public speaking ability, you can volunteer to teach a class or seminar at a local library.  You can also volunteer for a panel at a trade show or conference in your industry.  Another possibility is Toastmasters.  This organization has groups all over the U.S.

With Toastmasters, you improve your abilities in two ways. First, you observe and critique the speeches of others, learning what to do and what to avoid in speeches.  You also learn how to give constructive criticism.  Second, you learn how to deal with any nervousness by speaking in front of a supportive group.  You also receive constructive feedback on your own performance.

Teach and Mentor Coworkers

I have already touched on this, but make sure that when you receive, you also give back.  When other employees help you, reciprocate by teaching them cool, time-saving tricks that you know.  Remember that everyone has to start fresh at a company at some point.  Help out the new kids and make sure they get a good start!  You may even find that they can teach you about things that you knew nothing about.

Learn from Coworkers

Just as you teach and mentor coworkers, you should let them do the same for you!  Take the time to ask questions about things you are unclear about.  Press for details on a concept if you know that concept is a weak area in your knowledge.  Ask to sit in the next time George in Accounting runs the ledger reports.  That way, you at least have a vague idea of where they come from.

Think about the specific information that your company will expect you to know in a more advanced role.  Then, find a way to learn that information from people in your company.  Remember, share and share alike.  If you offer some insight into your work tasks, coworkers are more likely to reveal their secrets!

Think Strategically – Plan for Your Future Role

Finally, you should think ahead to the day that you ask your boss for a promotion. There are several questions to ask yourself.  Who have you already talked to at that point?  What should you already know?  What evidence do you have to make your case for a promotion?  How will you ask?

Network with the Right People

Networking can help you to find people who work in the type of role you want to eventually fill.  You can pick their brains over coffee or lunch, in order to learn what you need to know.  Ask them about the most important factors were for promotion.  A candidate’s desired skills may differ between companies.  However, if you notice any overlap, it is a safe bet that those are skills that you need.

Find a Mentor

Your mentor may or may not work for your company.  The advantage of a mentor at your company is that he knows information specific to your industry and company.  The disadvantage is that he may see you as a threat!  As a result, he may not want to see you climb too high up in the company ranks.  For that reason, you might have better luck choosing a mentor in a more senior role at another company.

Ask for More Responsibility

Once you have followed the advice above to become an expert resource, ask for more responsibility.  However, be careful!  Your boss may question your judgment if you ask too early.  You should already be an expert in your current job.

Think carefully about the skills you will need for the job you want.   Then, ask for responsibilities that help you to develop these skills.  For instance, if the job requires you to manage people, ask to work in this capacity on a smaller scale.

To do this, you might lead a small project team for a few weeks.  You might also direct the new hires at a campus recruiting event.  Keep your eyes open, and volunteer for these opportunities when they arise!

Track Progress & Prepare to Make Your Case

Make sure to track your progress as you learn new skills.  Also keep records of any relevant metrics that help you to make your case for a promotion.  For example, keep track of successful small team projects that you lead.  You might also prepare some statistics on improvements in revenue or successful cost containment measures.

Bring all relevant material to your boss when you ask for a promotion.  Make sure to summarize your ideas, so you don’t flood him with details.

Ask!

Now that you have learned the skills you need and built your case, all you need to do is ask!  You know your boss well by this point.  Try to ask at a time when he will not be too busy.  Also ask at a time when he is likely to be receptive.  Asking at quarter close at a financial company is probably not a good idea.  In this case, timing is critical!

Conclusion

Many factors will affect whether telecommuters get promotions.  Keeping in mind the factors we discussed above will make you a stronger candidate.  Remember: develop rapport with coworkers, become a valuable go-to person, improve your skills, and think strategically.

If you feel isolated working at home, remember that there is a lot you can do to change the situation.  For more information, check out my article on how to combat isolation while working remotely.

I hope that this article offers some insight into ways to make yourself more valuable to your company.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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