Why just being great at your job won’t get you promoted

You are happy in your current company. You are busy in your role and doing a great job. Well done! This is a great place to be (especially in the current climate).

But. It is still important to take care of your career because:

  1. You never know what is round the corner, as we all experienced in 2020 and
  2. Career success takes more than keeping your head down and working hard in your current role.

I regularly talk to clients who are excellent at what they do. They are high performers in their role. But they squirm when attempting to take credit for their achievements. They talk about ‘we’ and the team, and they push others forwards. This is great for collaboration. It is not so good for managing their career, for getting promoted now or in the future. They want their work to speak for itself and hope that people will notice what they are doing.

Unfortunately, this often doesn’t happen.

I recently learnt about the PIE Model of Career Success by Harvey Coleman from Protégé – an organisation I mentor for. Coleman says that there are three elements of career success:

The first is P: Performance – achieving results in your day job. But in order to continue to develop and progress your career there are other elements you should be considering.

Second is I: your Image – how you are perceived, your personal brand or put another way what people say about you when you aren’t in the room.

And third, E: your Exposure – your visibility. Who knows about you and what you do?

Often people focus heavily on P, which is important and the strong grounding we need to succeed. But Coleman says that only 10% of career progression is down to Performance and for long term career success 60% of career progression is based upon our Exposure, what people know about us. The final 30% is Image – others’ perceptions of us.

I listened to an excellent podcast recently ‘Sharing our strengths’ from Looking up: a unity podcast. The presenters discuss Sally Helgeson’s point that companies don’t just make great products and assume their customers should want to buy them, they have a marketing function to promote what they do. She says as a professional you should have one too. We need to think about telling people about our work as part of the work, not an add on.

So what could you be doing to increase your image and exposure?

  • Volunteer internally for a committee or project that you believe in, which will give you exposure to colleagues in different divisions / locations. You will grow your network internally across the business and being seen for doing more than your day job. Win win!
  • Be proactive on internal platforms and forums, whichever you use. Share helpful information, reply when other people post things, basically get involved. Be seen and be heard.
  • Offer to support newcomers to the organisation with their induction, supporting them as they transition in and connecting them with others. A perfect reason to reconnect with key individuals widely.
  • Voice your career goals to your line manager. They can’t help you if they don’t know.
  • Seek feedback about how you are perceived, either formally as part of a 360 degree feedback programme, or informally by approaching a sample of colleagues whose opinions matter to you.
  • Start making a note of your achievements. You might wish to do regular updates to your CV so when it comes to attending an internal interview you have your achievements front of mind along with the outputs and metrics.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and use LinkedIn to be visible, have conversations, and support others.
  • Practice articulating what you have achieved. This doesn’t come naturally to many people. But like all things we get better at things when we practice them. If you find it hugely cringeworthy, lead with your ‘why’ – what is your purpose? Why do you do the things you do?
  • Find a professional ‘buddy’ and talk about each other and push each other forward for things.
  • Represent your business externally whether that is speaking at a conference, volunteering to be a mentor, or joining a professional network such as a Chamber of Commerce.

What else has worked for you and what are you going to do next?


How Women RiseSally Helgeson and Marshall Goldsmith


‘Sharing our strengths’Looking up: a unity podcast

Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game RevealedHarvey J. Coleman


Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

2 responses to “Why just being great at your job won’t get you promoted”

  1. Great to see you passing on the P.I.E. Model Ellie. It was such an eye-opener for me and as you are aware, we use the model on all our Protégé mentoring programs with huge success. Love all your suggestions around increasing your Image and Exposure.