• Lindi Engelbrecht

Bosses Tell Us: 7 Things That Will Get You Promoted


Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day-in and day-out!

Have you ever been promoted? If so, congratulations. If not, there might be something you can do about that.


And we don't mean, "be more confident" or "be more passionate." We mean specific actions you can take to impress your superiors.

If you want to add, “get a promotion” to your list of New Year’s resolutions, we’re here to help you succeed! Here is what bosses and managers say you should focus on if you really want to push your career forward.


How did we find such useful tips? We asked the boss.

1. Collaboration

If you want to get promoted, you have to do more than focus on your personal work. Consider branching out to see who could use an extra hand around the office. The more impressed your co-workers are with you, the more likely your boss will hear about your work ethic. Your ability to collaborate is just as important as your ability to work independently.

“Collaboration with teams across the organisation always stand out,” says one boss, “I always look at an employee’s internal branding to see how they are viewed by others.”

2. Effort

When it comes to your work ethic, it’s not always just about hitting specific milestones. Some managers say they look at the effort an employee is putting in — does their report exhibit self-discipline and adaptability? Are they focused and being creative? The amount of effort you put in will speak volumes to your boss.

“It’s more about the amount of effort I see, rather than specific milestones,”. “When I [promoted] employees, they were all people I saw making [a] great effort every day. I have promoted less-skilled people over someone who is skilled but does the minimum.”

3. Be Drama-Free

"I don't care if you don't like the person you sit next to or think the Post-It notes should be yellow, not blue. Bring me drama and I am certain that you are not worthy of the next step."

Especially in an office environment, we have to work closely with different personalities and in less-than-ideal situations. Unless there's a real problem (read: you feel unsafe or can't complete your work), keep complaints to yourself. As one boss says, "Your job is to make your boss's life easier, not plop your drama on his or her lap. Save that for your friends and family or your diary."

Another boss agrees: "If you gossip a lot, it's a problem."

4. Reliability

If you want to move up in your company, you need to show your boss that they can always count on you.

Punctuality, initiative, friendly manner and the ability to show development are the key factors I look for when I promote an employee,” describes Boss B.

5. Take Notes

"We hate having to tell you things over and over. No boss should ever have to go over directions more than once. If you don't understand the direction when it is being given, clarify right then and there and take good notes instead of depending on your memory."

We've all been there—nodding and smiling and filing away the tasks we're given in a meeting, only to get back to our desks having lost those mental files. Impress your supervisor by keeping a paper and pen (or laptop, if that's acceptable at your office) at hand, ready to record the things you need to remember.

Taking the time to write things down is especially helpful, as it gives you a minute to process your instructions and think of any questions you need to ask then and there.

6. Hold Up Your End

"It's awful when you claim to be a team player, but complain when you are given responsibilities to help on a project."

"Team player" is cliched for a reason—because every boss wants to see that quality in a potential employee. In recent years, "team" has come to replace every office unit from department to entire company, and every employee is expected to be a team player.

Complaining about your role on the team is both futile and aggravating to your boss. Where is she supposed to find you a sub? If you aren't a team player, the real fix is to learn the rules of the game—and fast.

7. Have a Solution & work hard

Wrong: "You tell me you have a problem—well, actually, you whine about something which I understand means you have a problem—and you come in with zero solutions on how to fix it."


Right: "You come up with new and successful ideas on your own and take initiative to do something we already do and do it better without being asked."


One boss told us she's happy to give advice to people who ask for it, but she's "looking to promote people who can think their way out of something on their own."

From day one, your boss probably made it clear how to succeed on their team, or at your company. If you listened, you already know the clear steps to take and the skills that your boss admires. If you don’t, start paying attention to the co-workers they are constantly congratulating or the people they recently promoted. With a little hard work and focus on the specific skills your boss wants you to have, you’re going to get that promotion.


“We hire consistently from within by promoting our existing employees into leadership positions. We know they are ready because we are crystal clear about the specific skills and mindset they need to acquire to receive that promotion,”. “When they achieve those skills and have developed that mindset – we celebrate their success, promote them and then support them through very clear milestones of learning and deliverables. In this way they are set up for success because they know what success is from day one – and they know they have the support and help to get there.”

One boss had the following recommendation: "I think the best candidates for promotion are those who best can gently 'manage up' within their ranks and can find the balance needed to do gold star work while still knowing when to draw the line and say, 'I can do this for you, or I can do that for Mr. Smith, but I cannot get both done today. I feel like [this task] is the priority—would you agree?'"