want a promotion as a graduate? here’s how not to do it

My generation, the millennials, have been labelled with many titles. One in particular resonates with me, ‘we’re inpatient’. I know I am. I want great things to happen now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, now. I want the promotion. I want the pay rise. I want it all, and I want it now. I’m not saying everyone else in my generation is like this, they’re not, but I don’t think it would be totally inaccurate to say we’re less patient than previous generations. Instant gratification is what we’re used to. Whether it’s Deliveroo, Amazon delivery, Uber or Netflix, we don’t like waiting for anything.

Since my career started, I’ve been in two roles that I’ve disliked, one of which I’d go as far as saying I hated. The work just didn’t resonate with me. The type of work didn’t map to my skills, and I couldn’t see how the role was going to help me get closer to my goals. I’m a big believer in the whole ‘you’ve only got one life, so make the most of every day’. I felt like I was just wasting my life in both of these roles and I wanted out of them. I was willing to move company if I had to, and pondered doing this on more than one occasion. I felt I could do more. I felt I wasn’t being challenged.

It’s during these times that it can be tempting to down tools, lower your head and moan to your colleagues about how you’re being overlooked. I’d be a liar if I said I hadn’t done one or all of these at some point in my career. But here’s something I learnt, if there’s one sure way of not getting moved into a more challenging role, it’s by demonstrating these poor behaviours.

My manager has always preached…

“perform in your role, and you’ll get the move”

This has stuck with me. If you continue to perform and exceed expectations, you can only be ignored for so long. If you want a promotion, you can’t expect to get one without performing. It doesn’t work the other way. If you’re going to wait to get a promotion before you perform, you’re behaving your way out of a promotion. This is common with pay rises too. People say they’re not going to perform unless they get a pay rise. I hear, “If they don’t see the value in me, that’s fine, I’ll do the basics and that’s it, no more”. That’s insanity. Prove you deserve the pay rise first, and then it should come.

In summary, if you’re in a role that you’re not enjoying, remember that you’re best chances of getting out of that role are to outperform. Demonstrate to management that you’re an under-utilised asset. If management have any sense, they’ll want to maximise the value you offer and move you into a more challenging role. Be patient. If you were a manager, you’d want to see at least 12 months of high performance before considering someone for a promotion. Keep your head high, and remember that nothing stays the same forever, you’re time will come, but it’s on you to make it happen.

I decided to ask someone who has ‘been there, seen it, and done it’ to provide their insights. A colleague of mine, Paul Ness, one of the Asset Managers at Ithaca Energy kindly provided his perspective.

In my experience it’s critical to get the right range and right number of experiences at the right time and galloping up the grades prevents that critical frame of reference, or foundation, being built. As an industry we’ve suffered from premature promotions which in the medium term typically hinder: task; team; and individual.

From a personal perspective, I joined the O&G sector aged 30 and was too late to develop certain aspects of industry-specific experience. For example, I would be “better” in my role(s) had I more first-hand experience of a production operator’s or maintenance technician’s contribution but as I missed the opportunity to build that knowledge I now need to learn second-hand, from other’s experience.

Your leaders should be looking for additional projects to provide such development whilst also adding value to the organisation so help them by building a network and suggesting opportunities as they arise or as you identify them. Performing consistently in your key role is critical, occasionally hating your job is typical!

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