Here’s a great question from someone who wants to get ahead, but feels blocked by management:
“I would really like your advice on getting promoted and how to deal with managers that push you down. I'm high performer in every sales job I've ever had but never got recognized for it, instead my managers would get jealous and try to put me in my place by critiquing more, find more flaws in me, and find ways to reprimand what I did wrong, instead of recognizing what I was able to do for the store which was increase sales significantly. It just made me mad and my performance dipped because I was super unhappy with most of the managers I've had. What if in the future, I had a boss who tries to push me down, how would you approach it? What should I say, who should I talk to? Can you please help me? Because I really want to grow in the next position I am at and not feel that I'm being kept pushed down by my future managers and instead of staying in associate level, I want to become a leader of an organization whether management for a department or try out corporate roles.”
This is a very complex situation, and it's hard to answer without having more details. However, I'm going to give some ideas based on the limited information given to me. For those who are also in this situation, pay close attention!
Being great at sales and performing on a revenue basis is not the only measure to be successful. There are other "soft skills" one must have to accomplish growth and be promotable. Your ability to be coachable, have a positive attitude, be a team-player, and provide support to your manager are other strong factors in earning a promotion. While your ability to generate revenue is undoubtedly a key to your success, these other factors are what make great leaders. Let’s break them down:
1) Be coachable: one needs to be open-minded about where they can improve. Be humble about your ability. Allow yourself to take feedback, whether positive or negative. One way you can start is before you accept a job, ask the hiring manager what success looks like to him or her. If they say your ability to make sales, then ask what other factors will contribute to earning a promotion or being recognized as a team leader? Then ask how will that be measured? How often will that be measured? How often will I have employee reviews to measure my progress? What is the process for getting a promotion? How will I know if I am on the right track? What do you look for in a candidate when you are determining who to promote? You must find out what you can do to improve. You may also consider going back to the managers you've been unhappy with and ask them these same questions. You will learn a lot about what to do or not do in your next job.
2) Have a positive attitude: most people think they have a positive attitude, but don't. Humans are wired to receive negative information; it's part of your DNA. It takes commitment and hard work to have a positive attitude. I thought I had a positive attitude until I took a self-evaluation and to my surprise, I had many opportunities for improvement. Here are two things you can do to help you grow in that area:
3) Be a team player: everyone wants people who can collaborate with each other. Leaders are those who can work with others and inspire others. This means you have to be selfless. Many salespeople are selfish and they are good at selling a product or service, but to be a leader, you must put others first. To move from a good salesperson to a great salesperson, you must also put others first, including external and INTERNAL customers.
4) Support your manager: the person in charge of your promotion is your manager. Are you the type of person who is complaining about the boss with others, or trying to understand the boss and support his or her goals? This is very important. Find out what the boss needs to accomplish and help him or her with the plan. There's a saying "dress for the job you want." The same idea should be applied for your behavior…associate and support the role you want. You cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. Look for the opportunities in situations, not the negative. Don't dwell on blaming others and don't dwell on blaming yourself. Just find the problem and fix it. Measure your high performance by more than making sales goals. Seek to be recognized for the qualities your manager tells you will get you promoted. Take the critiques you get, and instead of being unhappy about them, be thankful that you are getting information on how to improve. Don't be mad, be appreciative you are learning.
Change your thinking, and you WILL change your situation.