Hi friends. This month's issue will be slightly shorter than others; I spent the last couple of weeks under the weather, so I've been catching up on many fronts, but I still wanted to get a couple of pieces of content to your inbox.
I've had several conversations with people who have been frustrated by the lack of growth in their careers, and it got me thinking about how I never really understood how promotions worked until I became a manager and had to help my direct reports get through that process. In this issue, you'll see a few reasons why you're not getting promoted and hopefully gain insight into what you can do about it.
In addition, you'll see how you can apply adult learning theory to your content.
Let's get into it.
If you've been in your role for a while and are not moving up, you might wonder why. There could be a few reasons for your lack of movement. One is on you, and the others are out of your control entirely.
This took me a long time to learn, and now that I've been a manager for several years and have helped people through promotions, I now have a much clearer picture that I'll share with you.
Let's start with the things that are outside of your control. You won't be able to change these, but you'll be able to make better decisions once you're aware of these issues.
One of the things your manager has to do in preparing to promote you is make a case for why a promotion makes sense at the business and organizational levels. A promotion means that you'll be taking on additional responsibilities. Is there a business need for someone to take on those additional responsibilities? If there is, then the manager has an easier job, but if there isn't, then there isn't anything else to discuss. This is especially true as you get more senior in a company and move towards more specialized roles. For example, if you're looking to be a Director and there's no business need for that role, it won't happen, even if you check all the requirements.
Another reason you might not get a promotion is that your manager doesn't know you want one. If you're not having periodic discussions with your manager for at least six months about promotion to the next level, your manager doesn't have enough time to prepare a case for you, to finance, HR, and their manager. You need to be having discussions with your manager about your career frequently. I wouldn't recommend using every one-to-one meeting to discuss this, but you should bring it up every month or so. Once your manager knows, you two can have conversations about your readiness for the role, and they can also start having conversations with their boss to determine if there is a business need.
Sometimes a promotion might not work out because the money isn't there. A promotion means that you will move to a different pay band, requiring an increased budget. It might also mean that the company has to bring someone in to do the work you used to do in your old role. This means that promotions might get delayed until the next fiscal year.
Unfortunately, one final thing that is out of your control is whether or not your manager is willing to do the work to advocate for you. Sometimes, your manager may not think it's time yet; they may have identified additional things they want you to work on to demonstrate that you can perform at the next level. If that's the case, consider that valuable feedback and clarify the next steps.
But sometimes, it can come down to your manager not wanting to let you move on. They'd rather keep you doing what you're doing because it's good for them or the business. You're "too important" to promote.
And, sometimes, it's just that your manager doesn't like you and isn't willing to go to bat for you.
The bottom line is that you have a manager who won't advocate for you, it's time to look for a new job.
So now that you've seen some of the things you can't control, let's look at what you can control: your impact.
Early in your career, you're focused on doing things in your role and doing them well. You're taking issues off of the queue and completing them quickly and with quality. Many employees think that doing their current role for a certain amount of time and doing it well entitles them to a promotion, but that's not how it works.
A promotion is not a reward for the work that you did in the past. A promotion happens when you've demonstrated you can do work at the next level and are ready to have more responsibilities and a more significant organizational impact. Most organizations have career ladders with clearly defined responsibilities at each level that spell this out.
Talk with your manager about the requirements for the next level and start building a case that shows you demonstrate those requirements in your day-to-day activities. Continue having discussions with your manager, and ensure you consistently deliver impact and value at the next level on the ladder. Instead of focusing on the things that you've done, start focusing on how the things you do have an organizational impact.
Promoting people takes a lot of time from the manager, so the manager needs to know that you're putting in the effort for the promotion. If you don't put in the effort to show up consistently at a higher level of impact, then your manager is not very likely to put in the extra effort to build a case and then spend their political capital to get you promoted. But if you are going above and beyond your current role and responsibilities and genuinely operating at the next level, your manager will happily talk you up to their manager, preparing them for your promotion.
To promote you, your manager needs to see evidence that you can consistently operate at the next level, they need a business case for the promotion, and there needs to be budget. Keep having conversations with your manager about your career growth and ensure that when promotion comes around, your manager can make a convincing case for you.
As content creators, it's easy to focus on what we want to teach. We're passionate about our subject matter and eager to share our knowledge. However, this approach can overlook a crucial aspect: what does our audience want to learn? This question becomes even more pertinent when our audience is primarily adults.
Enter andragogy, the method and practice of teaching adult learners. This theory asserts that learning programs must support the notion that adults are self-driven and take responsibility for their decisions. Unlike pedagogy, the teaching approach most of us experienced in our school years, andragogy is learner-centered rather than teacher-centered. It recognizes that adults bring a wealth of life experiences, self-concept, and readiness to learn to the table.
The shift from pedagogy to andragogy is not just about teaching adults instead of children. It's about changing your perspective from "What do I want to teach?" to "What does my audience want to learn, and how do they want to learn it?" This shift is crucial because adults approach learning differently:
Knowing this, you can apply principles of andragogy to your content design. Here are a few ways:
Relevance: Adults are motivated to learn what they can immediately apply. Therefore, it's crucial to communicate your content's benefits and practical applications upfront. For example, if you're creating a tutorial on photo editing, start by explaining how mastering these skills can enhance their personal or professional photography. Answer the "What's in it for me" question right away.
Experience-Based: Adults bring a wealth of experience to the table. Use this to your advantage by creating content that builds upon their knowledge. For instance, if you're making a course on coding, assume a basic understanding of math and science and build upon those foundations rather than starting from scratch. Create examples that are rooted in real-world problems rather than abstract scenarios.
Problem-Centered: Adults are motivated to learn by a need to solve real-life problems. Design your content around solving specific problems or challenges your audience faces. For instance, if you're a fitness content creator, address common issues like maintaining consistency or finding time for exercise rather than just providing workout routines.
Self-Directed Learning: Adults want to take charge of their learning. Provide resources for further exploration and learning. For example, at the end of a podcast episode, provide references for deeper reading or related topics they can explore independently. At the end of a tutorial, issue further challenges and give them an outlet to share their work.
Active Participation: Adults learn best when actively involved. Incorporate interactive elements like quizzes, tasks, or discussion forums. For example, if you're a cooking vlogger, you could challenge your viewers to recreate your recipe and share their results. One of my favorite things to see as an educator is when someone shares their solution to one of the challenges in my Exercises for Programmers book.
Respect: Acknowledge your audience's knowledge and life experiences. Encourage them to share their insights and experiences. This could be through comments, community forums, or even guest appearances. This enriches your content and fosters a sense of community and respect.
Go beyond the show-and-tell of pedagogy. Apply the principles of andragogy, and you can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your content for adult learners.
Learning about andragogy was among the most impactful things for me as an educator. It shifted my mindset around planning and delivery, and I hope learning about it gives you some fresh perspective. I also hope you've got more insight into how promotions work and can use what you learned to move closer to your next career milestone.
Here are a few things to think about or do before the next issue comes out.
As always, thanks for reading.