Most people feel that the best means to earning a promotion is to perform in your role so well that your bosses notice and decide to hand you that prized promotion. While I agree that performing your role well is crucial to moving up the ladder, this approach is far too passive.

For one, it relies too much on other people. Why sit back and hope someone else notices you and then takes action based on what they notice? That’s passive. No person ever became successful by sitting back and hoping.

Secondly, even if this plan does work out it will most likely take a very long time for that promotion to come. And the second promotion? You could be waiting another five years.

So, forget that approach. You need to grab hold of your own destiny and force the issue.

How do you do it? Well, to earn a promotion you need to prove to your bosses that you are adding true value to the company. Employers, believe it or not, don’t like to pay you simply to show up and perform your role. They pay you to go beyond your role and add value. The more value you add, the more money you should make.

So if you haven’t earned that promotion and made more money yet you either aren’t adding enough value or you haven’t convinced those above you that you are adding the value you believe you are.

We interrupt this program for a brief word from the Excuses Police: If you are the person that reads that last statement and starts making excuses about why you were passed over, such as political reasons or because your boss just doesn’t like you, then you should stop reading now. Excuses get you nowhere and they won’t change the fact that you haven’t yet been promoted. You are where you are and there is no point in looking back. You need to accept where you are and take the necessary steps to get where you want to be. Maybe your boss doesn’t like you. So what? Are you going to sit back and just accept that? No, you need to overcome. Forget them if they don’t like you. You are going to use this awesome plan that I am about to provide you and go to his/her boss with it. Or, if he/she is the highest ranking person at the entire company then take your plan to the competitor and get a new position. The point is, don’t make excuses and accept your fate. If you want something, go get it.

Ah, that feels better doesn’t it? Now that we have that off our chest let’s continue.

I am going to show you how to add value to your company while also ensuring your bosses notice it. In fact, it will be so clear to them that they will have no choice but to promote you.

Here’s how we are going to do it:

No matter what job you have or what company you work for I am 100% sure that your business has challenges that need to be solved. Those challenges are your opportunity.

Every challenge has a solution. In most cases, that solution doesn’t require rocket science. It just requires someone to think through it and put together a plan. But most people have no idea how to put together that plan.

I am going to show you how to put together that plan. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a genius to create this. All you need is my three step process below and some basic math skills. You’ll have to write up the plan in detail, but if you use the simple formula I lay out for you it should be easy to write it up.

At the end, you will be able to provide your bosses with such a well thought out and detailed plan that the only thing left for them to do is say, “Great idea. You’re in charge of it, now go execute.” Boom! Just like that, you got your promotion.

  1. Identify the Challenge

The first step to solving your problem is admitting you have a problem. In business speak that means you must clearly identify and then articulate what the challenge is that your business faces.

This does not mean simply saying “X is a challenge”. Your company most likely already knows that X is a challenge. You need to go deeper and articulate that X is a challenge, why it is a challenge, and what the impact of that challenge is. The impact is most important, as it will make the pain tangible.

For example, if your challenge is that your sales reps are quoting prices manually instead of using technology you would need to expand upon that and highlight the impact. You would state something like the following: “Our sales reps are quoting their prices manually instead of using technology. This is very time consuming for sales reps which takes away from their selling time and hurts revenue growth. I have done the calculations and I estimate that sales reps are spending 100 extra hours per year just building quotes. At an average salary of $70,000 across 50 sales reps I estimate that we are paying $175,000 per year (50 reps x $35 per hour x 100 hours) just for our reps to build quotes. Conversely, those reps are not able to sell during those 100 hours. With each rep generating an average of $1 million in revenue per year, or $500 in revenue generated per hour of selling time, we are foregoing $2.5 million in additional revenue per year by spending so much time building quotes.”

You just clearly articulated a business challenge and showed the true impact it is having on the business. No one could see that impact and walk away without listening.

Last item of note on this, be sure to always attack the business challenge and never a person. You NEVER want to say “X is a challenge because John isn’t doing his job effectively”. If you attack a person then your case gets overshadowed and minimized because now everyone is just focused on John and what you are saying about John. They may very well lose respect for you and lose trust in you. Attack the problem, never the person.

  1. Build a Solution

Once you have identified and explained the impact of the challenge you then need to build a solution. But, again, this solution needs to be clearly articulated and detailed. People always claim to be very busy (that’s a discussion for another day) and the higher you go in an organization the more busy people claim to be. That means they don’t want to hear about a challenge unless you have a plan to fix it.

Being told of a challenge and then being left to figure it out on your own is like being given a free puppy. It seems nice at first because you were made aware of a challenge that is holding back your business (you have a cute puppy that licks your face and cuddles with you) but then you are left to deal with it yourself and do all of the work to find the solution (you realize you have to take the puppy out to go to the bathroom 10 times a day).  

Bosses don’t just want a puppy, they want a puppy and a handler that will take care of it. Your role is to be the handler.

You need to come armed with a fully detailed plan of how you are going to be the solution. Using the manual quoting example above, you wouldn’t just say “We need to automate quoting” and then just walk away.

Instead, you would say “We need to automate our quoting process. To do so, we need to implement a cloud-based application that we can customize to our business. I reviewed several different platforms and from my research I recommend using Acme product. Its benefits include ease of use, quick implementation, guided selling, and easily configurable pricing across multiple products. It is used by 60% of the Fortune 500 companies. We could have it up and running in 2 months. To further alleviate concerns of taking on such a project I have built out a high level training program for all of our reps. I have also taken into account possible disruption with our clients and built a migration plan to ensure our clients experience no interruption issues.”

You need to act as if you are the sole owner of the business and in doing so you must anticipate every question that you yourself would ask if it was your money being used for this project. Leave no stone unturned. Executives don’t want half-baked ideas, they want solutions that are well thought out and planned. The above example proves that you have thought through this solution and put a lot of work into it. This will give your executives comfort and build their trust in you.

  1. Lay Out the Expected Results

You’ve identified the challenge and laid out the solution but what will be the outcome? Business leaders usually don’t make decisions because they “sound good”. Sometimes they go on instinct but more often than not they make decisions based on data. They want to know the expected outcomes that your solution will provide so that they can determine if this is a good investment.

This means you need to be able to clearly articulate the projected outcome of your solution. And, those outcomes better be worthwhile. If you project just a 1% increase in efficiency from your supposed great plan then you are going to be exposed for a fraud. A 1% increase is peanuts. You clearly chose a bad solution.

Here is an example of laying out projected results:

“By implementing Acme product I believe we can reduce time spent on building quotes to just 25 hours per rep per year. This reduces the amount of money we spend on reps building quotes by $131,250. Also, by freeing up an additional 75 hours per rep per year we can expect to generate an additional $1.25 million across 50 reps.

At a cost of $200,000 for Acme product, we can expect an ROI of 525% from just the revenue uplift of $1.25 million alone. The ROI of this investment is clear. We need to do this for the betterment of our business.”

Boom! You just got your promotion.

“That’s what business leaders want. That’s the secret sauce.”

Your bosses will probably have some follow up questions but you have just earned their trust and respect because you laid out such a well thought out and detailed plan that creates true value. You identified a problem but, more importantly, you told them exactly how to solve it and even laid out the projected results. You have effectively handed them the playbook to success so that the only thing left for them to do is say, “Great idea, you’re in charge of it.”

That’s what business leaders want. That’s the secret sauce. They simply want people that they can trust to the point that all they have to say is “Run with it” and they can have comfort knowing that it will get done and get done well. It’s pretty simple.

And if for any reason they don’t just roll over and hand you the promotion then you just earned yourself the right to demand the promotion. If they have any brains, they will give it to you immediately because they now see the great value you bring to the company. That type of value is rare so when you find it you hold onto it.

Now go enjoy your new title and your new money!