If a promotion is the end of a career plan, short or long-term, then what happens once we arrive there? Nothing. It is like having marriage or getting pregnant as a goal; it's the outcome and one milestone in a long journey. A promotion is like wanting to be 16 and able to drive...suddenly you're there and getting older/owning a car takes on new meaning...
Certainly we should celebrate promotions as a milestone. It might even be used a marker of success. It is not however a goal in and of itself.
When folks tell me they want a promotion, I ask why? Most can't answer.
Two reason for business to consider a promotion are often:
1 - the job function itself needs to be regraded higher (and not necessarily the person doing the function)
2 - the person is capable of greater scope & reach
#2 is where a personal plan comes into play; we need concrete evidence of our aspirations and what we're doing to achieve them. Then a potential promotion becomes an acknowledgement or milestone of that ongoing aspiration.
I look for what I want to learn next and how much I'm willing to offer in order to get the opportunity. I ensure my current top four favourite skills are going to come into play so there's a strong base for me to succeed while I stretch myself in new areas.
Would I love a promotion? You bet! Is my job satisfaction dependent on it? Nope. Is my willingness to stay in one place, in hopes I'm recognized, a factor in how I plan my career? Yup. My resume is always up-to-date.
How to answer the question: Why do you want a promotion?
- The scale of the undertaking requires it and I am the right person for the job (and have examples of your leadership ready to offer)
- I've been driving my business forward in a support role and I am ready for the risks and pressures of leading from a more forward position (examples ready...)
- I can't learn X without attempting Y inherent in the position (and a good reason why you can't learn X in your current role...)
Meanwhile, do all you can to drive and push our businesses forward from the positions in which we currently operate. A job title should not hold us back from stretching and reaching...